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. Homestead fraud occurs when a person who has filed for homestead exemption or is currently receiving homestead exemption is determined not to be in good faith residing on the property on which he or she has filed.
The penalties for an claiming exemption when you are not eligible are severe. According to sections 193.155(9) and 196.161 of the Florida Statutes, owners who are not entitled to a homestead or 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. If you have information about someone receiving a homestead exemption who is not entitled to said exemption, please call (386)329-0286 or use the following form:
Timothy E. Parker, C.F.A. Putnam County Property Appraiser