Friday, August 26, 2011

Probes Into Fraudulent Property Tax Exemption Claims For Homestead Property Continue Attracting Attention

In Madison County, Mississippi, the Northside Sun reports:

  • THE MADISON COUNTY Tax Assessor’s office has been investigating several ineligible claims for homestead exemption - including a few potential cases of fraud - that could yield more than $200,000.

  • Tax Assessor Gerald Barber recently told the board of supervisors that his office had spent three months contacting and investigating residents whose homestead exemption claims looked suspicious.

  • Homestead exemption decreases the assessed value of owner-occupied houses in Mississippi from 15 percent to 10 percent, thus decreasing the taxes on the home. For instance, a $200,000 house with homestead exemption would be assessed at $20,000 instead of $30,000 and the taxes would be $2,003.60 instead of $3,455.40. People who lie about homestead claims are subject not only to financial penalties but also charges of perjury and misdemeanor and felony charges.

  • Barber gave a list to the board of supervisors that included 32 property owners who’d wrongly claimed homestead in 2010 - 12 who’d agreed to pay the bill after being notified, and 21 who had been unresponsive to the county’s efforts to reach them.


  • Since Barber has the power to back tax up to seven years, his office has also sent notices to 24 property owners who wrongly claimed homestead between 2005 and 2009, some of whom were on this year’s list too. Eleven of them have signed the notices and agreed to the tax increase, and 13 have not. “Most of the people we found were uninformed,” Barber said. “They were not trying to be fraudulent. We’ve got a couple we’re not sure of, and that investigation is ongoing.”

For more, see County goes after false claims of homestead exemption.

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