Lake County Unleashes Full-Time Homestead Exemption Fraud Investigators To Bag Real Estate Tax Deadbeats
In Tavares, Florida, The Daily Commercial reports:
- Simply having a home in Florida is not enough to qualify for a homestead exemption, as many Lake County residents will find out this week. On Wednesday, the county property appraiser's office will send out its exemption denial letters. Unlike past years, county officials are now more confident they know who's trying to get out of paying their fair share.
- This is the first year the county has used full-time fraud investigators to actively evaluate homestead exemption claims, and it's put millions of dollars worth of property back on the county's books.
- "I was thinking about how we could help the taxing authority and what I came up with was taking one of our experienced field men and having him go out and investigate these things." county Property Appraiser Ed Havill said. "Basically, we didn't have anybody doing that before." Now, fraud investigator Jim Kimpel and his chief deputy, Frank Royce, check out complaints reported through the county's fraud hotline, e-mail or by letter. [...] If the investigation reveals an intent to defraud the county, [Homestead Exemption Supervisor Ginger] Casburn said she can go back as far as 10 years to recoup back taxes, plus attach a 50 percent penalty on the amount that was supposed to be paid.