Group Seeks Ouster Of S. Florida Mayor After Accusations Surface That She Falsely Claimed Homestead Property Tax Exemption
- A group headed by a former city commissioner is seeking the resignation of North Bay Village Mayor Corina Esquijarosa after she was ordered this week to pay more than $3,000 in back taxes and penalities for falsely claiming a homestead exemption on a Miami condo she rented out.
- Florida law states that a homeowner can take the $50,000 homestead exemption from property taxes only on a primary residence, not an income-producing property.
- Esquijarosa, who won the November election by six votes, has not commented publicly on the matter. She did not return telephone calls or respond to an email from The Miami Herald on Friday.
- The Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office on Wednesday filed a lien notice, ordering her to pay $3,109.70 in back taxes by and penalties by May 20 or face a lien for falsely claiming a homestead exemption from 2009-2010 for a condo she rented out.
- Property records show that for the past two years, Esquijarosa, 38, claimed a homestead exemption for Unit #102 in the River Lofts Condominium at 1021 NW Third St. in Miami, a one-bedroom/one-bath condominium she has owned since 2008. Osmany Ramos said he has been living there since the end of 2010 with his wife and 1-year-old son and pays $675 a month in rent. He said another person had been renting the unit before he moved in.
- State law states that if a homeowner fails to notify the Property Appraiser’s Office of any changes in the status of a property, the owner can be back assessed for 10 years of exempted taxes, plus pay 15 percent interest per year and a penalty of 50 percent of the taxes exempted.
- Esquijarosa also did not report the unit as an asset on her financial disclosure forms that she filed last year to run for office, nor she did report any rental income. She works for the City of Miami and is paid $58,085.
For more, see Mayor’s resignation sought (Some residents are seeking the ouster of the mayor after the property appraiser levied a more than $3,000 fine on her).