Friday, December 11, 2015

Jacksonville-Area Property Tax Official Ramps Up Effort To Hunt Down Property Tax Cheats Claiming Fraudulent Homestead Exemptions

In Jacksonville, Florida. WOKV News reports:
  • The crackdown is picking up steam.

    Since entering office earlier this year, Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland has made a mission out of tracking down people claiming homestead exemption on local properties that aren’t eligible. The best estimate is about 3,000 properties, according to Holland, and that could mean recovering some $17 million over the next four years.

    “A well invested amount of energy being spent on that- but the return is going to be very good for the taxpayers,” Holland says.

    Holland says the prior Property Appraiser made an effort to start cutting back on fraud, but he’s now increased staff and concentrated the efforts. Just in the last week, the Supervisor of the Homestead Compliance unit was deputized as well. Holland says that gives them the ability to get data from other states, who are hesitant to give that kind of information to governments, rather than law enforcement.

    The office is also working out a contract with a service that will tap in to databases across the country. This is particularly valuable for homestead exemption fraud, because often people live in other states while claiming homestead on a property they vacation in or rent locally. Holland says it wouldn’t cost the County anything up front, rather the service would instead get 30% of the liens their information leads to- which Holland believes is a good deal.

    “You’re going to get 70% of what you haven’t gotten in the past,” he says.

    The service will not be paid for any liens that result from tips submitted by you or the ongoing efforts by the Property Appraiser’s Office. Holland hopes to have the contract in place and be getting data by March.

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