Reporting Possible Homestead Exemption Fraud

The Florida Constitution provides the benefit of homestead exemption to reduce the property tax burden of Florida citizens who use their property as their primary residence. In Walton County, the $50,000 homestead exemption saves qualified residents over $300 in taxes per year. Additionally, the cumulative benefits accrued by having assessments capped each year under the provisions of the Save Our Homes Amendment to the Florida Constitution benefits qualified residents by reducing their tax burden by hundreds of dollars more.

The financial benefits of homestead exemption have grown to the point where some have succumbed to the temptation of filing a false homestead application for the purpose of gaining financial benefits to which they are not entitled. The loss of tax revenue that these cheaters cause is made up by law abiding citizens.

Examples of homestead fraud are:

1) The owner(s) claim homestead exemption, but permanent residence is elsewhere.

2) The owner(s) claim homestead exemption, but they rent the property to others for any portion of the year. (The exception is military homesteaders away from home due to orders).

3) The individual or family unit claim homestead exemption on more than one property (including a homestead exemption filed in another state).

The penalties for fraudulently claiming exemption are severe. According to Sections 193.155 (9) and 196.161 of the Florida Statutes, owners who intentionally cheat on homestead and other exemptions will have a tax lien placed against their properties, be back taxed for up to 10 years (as applicable), be required to pay a substantial penalty (50% of the unpaid taxes for each year) and pay an interest rate of 15% per year.

All of us have an interest in protecting our homestead exemption benefits. All of us should fight any and all instances of homestead exemption fraud. If you suspect a property owner is claiming an exemption when they should not, please let us know. We will investigate your leads and you may remain anonymous. Please call:
(850) 892-8123 or (850) 267-4500

We will investigate your leads and you may remain anonymous.

Please see:
The 2005 Florida Statutes: 193.155 Homestead assessments

The 2005 Florida Statutes: 196.161 Homestead exemptions; lien imposed on property of person claiming exemption although not a permanent resident