Miami Dade County Property Tax Fraud: Homestead & Tax Exemptions are on the rise as officials found $11 million dollars in July 2012 alone. Officials in the property tax department are promising to probe deeper into this fraud as the County needs to increase income. Many homeowners in the Miami-Dade county area have been avoiding their property taxes by falsifying exemptions. There are homeowners who rented out homes and claimed them as their primary residences and others who’d taken advantage of deaths in the family by claiming homestead exemptions on homes of the deceased for over 15 years. There are also records of homeowners who pulled this same scam on multiple homes they owned but these sly tactics are being interrupted and shut down.
Cases like this have become common issues in the Miami area and those looking to take advantage of the system will have to find other ways to do so if they want to avoid jail time. Homeowners who are discovered falsifying tax exemption records can look forward to up to 10 years of unpaid taxes, an additional 15% increase in annual interests, as well as a 50% penalty.
15 investigators at the Property Appraiser’s Office have been receiving assistance from 6 detectives from the Economic Crimes team in Miami-Dade County. Before the list of complaints from significant others or neighbors grew to a whopping 3,500, there were only 2 detectives assigned to assist in this endeavor.
OFFICIALS FOUND $11,000,000 of FALSE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS IN JULY 2012 ALONE
Representatives from the Property Appraiser have developed a technology that will help to evaluate and notify authorities of any homestead properties that look unnatural. This software along with other efforts has helped Miami-Dade Country to locate $11 million dollars of false homestead exemptions in the month of July alone.
As these government organizations have tighter budgets, more strict methods have been put into place to moderate homestead exemption claims. These recovered funds will help to save needed public programs in the county that have been threatened to close based on budget cuts.
The new method of locating suspicious claims by checking marriage, voting, death certificates and other records has proven more beneficial than the original method of relying on concerned individuals to offer tips.
The possibility of the county losing millions and millions of dollars and the fact that many violators were getting away drove a retired detective to develop this software.
Taxes on properties without homestead and ones claiming homestead status can make a huge difference. Homes that are approved for Homestead status can deduct $50,000 the appraised value of the home before calculating taxes. This may seem like huge savings but compared to the Save our Home provision, these savings are pennies.
The Save Our Home amendment was introduced in 1995 and allows homeowners to pay the original tax amount of the home, regardless of the increase in value. The property tax can only increase up 3% every year. Just imagine the amount of savings that you can accrue after owning a property for 10-20 years. This could be the difference of homeowner paying
An example is a home in Miami that locked in a lower homestead rate in 1996 and over the years and got away with paying taxes on a value less than 20% of what the home was actually worth. The owner was finally caught and is being forces to pay interest and back-taxes that equal almost $404,000.