Homestead Exemption Fraud Costing Escambia $1 Million A Year

August 8, 2012

Escambia County is being robbed of up to $1 million annually by property owners committing homestead exemption fraud, Property Appraiser Chris Jones said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately some property owners claim exemptions to which they are not entitled,” Jones said. “These may include rental or vacation properties, second homes or other properties in which the owner does not reside.”

There are currently about 650 cases of homestead fraud per year in Escambia County, Jones said. Homestead fraud occurs when a person who is not a resident of Escambia County files for and is granted a homestead exemption; when that person is not in good faith residing on the property which has been granted the exemption; or is claiming a resident benefit in some other location while at the same time claiming an exemption on the property on which they filed.  Homestead fraud is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of $5,000, or both.

“In the past the property appraiser’s office has recovered as much as $600,000 a year by being aggressive in pursuing homestead fraud.”  Jones said, “Everyone should care about this because those fraudulently claiming a homestead exemption are essentially stealing from our law enforcement and our schools, and adversely impacting the quality of life of the majority of citizens who are following the law.”

Jones urges citizens who are aware of any homestead fraud to report it to his office.

“If you are aware of anyone who is claiming an exemption on property where they do not reside, which is rented, vacant or merely a vacation home, I would ask you to call our office,” he said.

Anyone contacting the property appraiser’s office to report potential fraud can be assured of confidentiality by either calling the Homestead Fraud Department at (850) 434-2735 or by filling out a form online at www.escpa.org.

“By helping to control homestead fraud the vast majority of citizens of Escambia County who abide by the law, can help ensure that we all receive the same homestead benefits afforded us under the law,” Jones said.  “Homestead fraud is not a game or some clever way to gain an advantage. It’s illegal.”

Comments

3 Responses to “Homestead Exemption Fraud Costing Escambia $1 Million A Year”

  1. Lorrie Davis on August 10th, 2012 3:25 pm

    Florida Statutes 196.031 states two things must happen to qualify for the Homestead Exemption.
    1. Jan 1st you must have legal or beneficial title in equity to real property
    2. Must reside thereon and in good faith make the same your permanent residence

    It is suggested that you call the Property Appraiser’s office regarding your inquiry on NorthEscambia.com

  2. Dishearted on August 9th, 2012 8:31 am

    It seems that if someone gets homestead on a house and they werent suppose to, the COUNTY wants to fine them!!!!! but if County residents that pay property TAXES dont get any County services, (and I mean none) per our leaders of our County, its O.K. for the County to take from the residents,(and get nothing in return)but its wrong for the people to cheat the COUNTY.!!! (double standers)

  3. question on August 9th, 2012 5:39 am

    What are the rules on filing homestead? If your parents leave ia home to you when they die and you let your children live in the home can you file homestead if you do not live in the home but your child does?





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