Deadline nears to file for special property tax exemption

File photo: Commissioner Craig Curry [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted February 16, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore 

Marion County property owners who meet age and income criteria are eligible to receive a property tax exemption that could provide significant savings on their annual tax bills, but they must apply by March 1. 

The Florida Legislature approved the exemption, known as Amendment 11, in 2012 and gave counties and municipalities the option of adopting it. The cities of Belleview and McIntosh adopted it several years ago, and Marion County Property Appraiser (MCPA) records show six property owners in McIntosh and 23 in Belleview have qualified. 

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the exemption on Jan. 4, 2022, for the entire county, and the ordinance implementing it took effect Sept. 7. Persons interested must apply through the MCPA’s office, and as of Jan. 17, six property owners in Marion County have qualified. The city of Ocala also recently adopted a similar ordinance. 

The MCPA explained that for income-qualified persons 65 or older, “the exemption is equal to the assessed value of the property to an owner who has title to real estate in Florida with a just value less than $250,000, as determined in the first tax year that the owner applies and is eligible for the exemption, and who has maintained permanent residence on the property for at least 25 years.” 

The household income limitation to qualify, which is annually adjusted, was $32,561 for 2022. 

Qualified property owners in Marion County can thank Joy Rumans, a local woman who took it upon herself to find tax relief for her neighbors, for urging the commissioners to make the exemption available countywide. 

Rumans said the amount she owed the county each year nearly doubled in 2021 when an assessment was made to her property tax bill for a road project in her Emil-Marr subdivision in northeast Marion County. The residents were given the option of paying an annual assessment of $474.59 over 10 years, starting in 2021. 

She and others learned of the road project and the assessment in 2020 when letters from the county began arriving for the 91 affected property owners. 

Rumans, who is retired from the food service industry and operates The Sounds of Joy by Joy Rumans, an entertainment service for senior facilities, became familiar with Amendment 11. She felt that if the commissioners adopted it countywide, it would lower her neighbors’ property taxes and offset the new assessment. 

She began to contact neighbors and spoke at three Marion County Board of County Commissioners meetings, where she began hearing horror stories from low-income elderly residents who couldn’t afford the assessment. 

“I met a disabled man (affected by the roadwork assessment) at one of the (public meetings) and I promised myself I would try to help. He was my motivator,” she said. 

Now that the county has adopted the additional exemption countywide, Rumans wants to be sure Marion County property owners who might qualify are aware of it. “This is for the entire county not just Emil-Marr,” she said. 

Since 1996, Eleanor Cullison, 83, has lived in the Emil-Marr subdivision, generally bordered by Northeast 35th Street and Northeast 39th Street and by Northeast 24th Court and Northeast 22nd Court. She said Rumans has been keeping her informed about the senior exemption. 

“I’m one of the Social Security people, and the additional exemption (and possible tax reduction) would definitely help,” Cullison said. She said with people watching their budgets closely “everything counts.” 

Rumans said she was happy she could help her neighbors. 

“I felt deeply grateful, thrilled and humbled to realize that I could make such a difference for so many deserving seniors,’’ she wrote in an email. “I fulfilled a serious promise to a gentleman I’ll never see again, and with that done, I sleep better.” 

To learn more, go to or call (352) 368-8300. 

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