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The Facts About Property Exemptions

The Facts About Property Exemptions

Property exemptions are a legal way of protecting your property against bankruptcy, creditor claims, and other financial difficulties. Property exemptions vary by state, and as such, it’s essential to know what exemptions apply to you and how you can take advantage of them.

Although exemptions can vary, they are designed to protect essential assets that you need to maintain your standard of living. In this article, we will discuss the different types of property exemptions, how they work, and how they can protect you.

What Are Property Exemptions?

Property exemptions are rules that help protect certain assets, such as your home or car, when you file bankruptcy or face a creditor claim. Property exemptions help you keep your essential assets and provide a fresh start after a financial crisis.

Each state has its own set of property exemptions. While some states allow a broad range of exemptions, others place limits on the type and amount of property you can protect.

For example, in Arizona, you can protect up to $150,000 in equity in your home as a homestead exemption. In Texas, there is no cap on the value of your home that you can protect as a homestead. However, in Maryland, you can only protect up to $25,150 in equity in your home as a homestead exemption.

Types of Property Exemptions

There are two general types of property exemptions: federal exemptions and state exemptions. Each state sets its own property exemptions that apply to residents who file for bankruptcy or are facing creditor claims.

Federal Exemptions

Federal exemptions protect specific assets, such as retirement accounts, public benefits, and household goods, to name a few. Individuals who reside in states that have not adopted their own property exemptions can use federal exemptions to protect their assets in bankruptcy cases.

Currently, only a few states allow their residents to use federal exemptions. These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The following are the current federal exemptions available for bankruptcy cases:

– Homestead Exemption up to $25,150
– Personal Property Exemption up to $4,000 or up to $8,000 for married individuals filing jointly
– Vehicle Exemption up to $4,000
– Wildcard Exemption up to $1,325 plus up to $12,575 of any unused portion of the Homestead Exemption
– Tools of the Trade Exemption up to $2,525
– Jewelry Exemption up to $1,700
– Life Insurance Exemption for specific types of policies
– Retirement Account Exemptions

State Exemptions

Each state has its own set of exemptions that govern their residents. The majority of states offer homestead exemptions, which protect homeowners from losing their homes in bankruptcy or court-ordered judgments. Other common exemptions included in state law include personal property exemptions, such as clothing and household goods, and vehicle exemptions, which protect your car from creditor claims.

Below are some examples of property exemptions offered by different states:

– California: Homestead Exemption up to $600,000, Varies for Personal Property
– Colorado: Homestead Exemption up to $75,000, Personal Property Exemption up to $4,000
– Florida: Homestead Exemption $25,000 for Personal Property Exemption for heads of households
– Georgia: Home Exemption up to $21,500, Personal Property Exemption up to $5,000, Vehicle Exemption up to $5,000
– Missouri: Homestead Exemption up to $15,000, Personal Property Exemption up to $3,000, Vehicle Exemption up to $3,000
– New York: Homestead Exemption up to $165,550, Personal Property Exemption up to $10,000
– North Carolina: Homestead Exemption up to $35,000, Personal Property Exemption up to $5,000, Vehicle Exemption up to $3,500
– Ohio: Homestead Exemption up to $145,425, Personal Property Exemption up to $4,000, Vehicle Exemption up to $4,000

Why Are Property Exemptions Important?

The primary purpose of property exemptions is to help individuals rebuild their lives after a financial crisis. Without exemptions, creditors could seize essential assets, such as your home or car, leaving you with nothing and making it more challenging to rebuild your financial future.

When filing for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee takes control of your property. This situation means that they have the legal right to sell your assets to pay off creditors. However, exemptions allow you to keep specific assets that make it possible for you to maintain your standard of living.

Although exemptions can vary by state, they typically cover the following essential assets:

– Your home (homestead exemption)
– Your car or other motor vehicles (vehicle exemption)
– Furniture
– Clothing
– Appliances
– Pensions, retirement funds, and other investment accounts (retirement savings exemption)
– Tools and equipment you need for work (work tools exemption)

States typically decide on exemptions based on what they deem to be essential for maintaining a modest standard of living. Although some might disagree with what is deemed “”essential,”” states typically believe that individuals should not be left destitute after filing for bankruptcy.

Filing for Exemptions

To take advantage of property exemptions, you must file for bankruptcy or claim exemptions. Here’s what you need to know:

– You can only claim exemptions in the state where you lived for at least two years before filing for bankruptcy.
– You must declare all of your assets when filing for bankruptcy, including the ones you want to claim as exemptions.
– Professionals, such as bankruptcy attorneys, can help you determine which exemptions are best for your situation.


Property exemptions are a critical tool for individuals who face financial struggles. They can protect essential assets from creditor claims and bankruptcy. Knowing which exemptions apply to you is vital to ensuring that you can keep what you need to maintain your standard of living and rebuild your financial future.

Remember that property exemptions can vary by state, and you should speak with a qualified professional to understand which exemptions apply to you. By understanding property exemptions, you can protect your assets and get a fresh start after financial challenges.

Ad valorem taxes, which are taxes derived from the assessed value of personal property or real estate, is the largest form of revenue for state and municipal governments. All landowners, whether individual or corporate, are subjected to such a tax.

The ad valorem taxation model varies based on jurisdiction, the quality of land, and other physical factors that make up the assessment calculation. Ad valorem taxes will deviate based on such characteristics, but each jurisdiction will offer property owners a resource used to mitigate such a burden. Tax exemptions offer tax payers a break; the amount levied will dissipate based on what the government has rendered exempt or excluded from being taxed.

Exemptions in regard to ad valorem taxes are defined as property that has been expelled from the assessment roll. Once property has been excluded from assessment the ad valorem taxation will not be applied to real property.

Tax exemptions in regards to the ad valorem taxation model vary greatly based on jurisdiction, but general guidelines do exist depending on an individual’s length of residency, age, military status, energy choices, or renovation procedures applied to the land.

Homestead Exemption:

The majority of states offer a form of Homestead Exemption based on how long an individual has resided on a particular piece of land. In order to qualify for this exemption, an individual must maintain residency for the majority of the year in the particular location or jurisdiction in question.

This exemption will be available as soon as the land is purchased, but the minimum terms required vary based on state-for example, in order to receive this exemption in Maine an individual must live in the state for at least a year, while in Alabama, the exemption will be available within six weeks of ownership. The Homestead Exemption decreases a home’s assessed value by a fixed percentage or a dollar amount. Most states offer this form of relief for ad valorem taxes, however, variables vary greatly based on jurisdiction, which greatly alter the amount of exemption available.

Some states for example, tie the exemption to criteria such as:age, amount of income, or education level. In addition to contrasting variables, states also differ in time limits for filing and re-application requirements.

Exemptions for Seniors or the disabled:

Mostly every state will offer some sort of exemption to elderly homeowners or the disabled. These exemptions are tied into relief programs which allow both groups to seek reductions in ad valorem taxes. The eligibility requirements for such exemptions also vary based on state tax law. For some states the refund may not kick in till an individual reaches 65, while other states may start at 60 or 70 years of age. Disabled homeowners will inevitably be required to show proof such as eligibility as it pertains to Social Security disability benefits or medical history.


By improving one’s land an individual will often times benefit in the form of reduced ad valorem taxation. Communities appreciate refurbished land; improvements made to property create a more pristine image of a locality. ┬áThe exemption will vary based on the improvement and state tax laws, but exemptions for renovations often exist for multiple years.

The exemption will also vary based on the land in question-how old is the piece of land being renovated? When was it last renovated? What condition was it in before renovation? Dilapidated projects that haven’t been refurbished in years will often lead to substantial exemptions.

Military Veterans:

Exemptions for ad valorem taxes are available to veterans who own homes (primary residency), served during wartime, and were honorably discharged. Some states will extend benefits to all veterans, regardless of participation in war, but the previous description is more common among states. These exemptions will also be extended to the spouses or families of a deceased veteran.

Exemptions for energy improvements:

The installation of energy efficient systems in one’s home can reduce the amount of ad valorem taxes levied. Many states exclude the value of “green” improvements from a property’s assessed value.

The level of exemption or requirements for exemption vary based on state, but all can be found the governments website or https://www.dsireusa.org/. Eligibile upgrades often include the installation of solar panels, photovoltaics, geothermal heat pumps, or solar water heaters.

There are three types of exemptions in regards to ad valorem taxes:full exemption, partial exemption, and special assessment. The level of exemption or type applied varies on state tax law, and the type of exemption based on the above categories.

Nobody enjoys paying ad valorem taxes, but often times homeowners are unaware of the benefits offered through the various exemptions. Having complete knowledge of the exemptions available, and the particular state laws applied can greatly lower an individuals yearly ad valorem taxation.