State Rep. Mike Hill says he “absolutely” did not break the law when he claimed a homestead exemption on a house he owns.
The Pensacola Beach Republican responded Thursday to reports of his investigation by the Escambia County Property Appraiser’s Office for possible homestead exemption fraud.
The South Santa Rosa News reported Wednesday Hill was being investigated after a citizen allegation of “fraudulently claiming homestead exemption for a house he owns … in the Marcus Pointe area while listing his home address as (a condo) on state financial reports.”
Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones confirmed an ongoing investigation but declined to elaborate.
In a message to FloridaPolitics.com, Hill said that he and his wife “are blessed to have a home in Pensacola, where we jointly hold a deed. That home has a homestead exemption and is the only home in our family that does.”
A homestead exemption shaves $50,000 off the value of a homeowner’s residence, saving him or her on yearly property taxes. But that house must be the person’s “primary residence,” not a secondary or vacation house. Penalties include a lien being placed on one’s home until back taxes and interest are paid, plus a 50 percent penalty.
Hill succeeded the late Clay Ford after a 2013 special election for Ford’s seat. The paper says Hill “relocated from Northeast Pensacola to Pensacola Beach to live inside the district he represents,” but kept claiming the exemption on the home.
“Because we enjoy the beauty of the beach we also lease a condo,” Hill said in the message. “We spend time in both homes. My residency to serve in the Florida House was certified by the House leadership, and the homestead exemption in Pensacola is in full compliance with the law. So in both cases there is absolutely no violation of any rules or any laws.
“Instead, this is really about a political opponent who may have incriminated himself by leaving a threatening voicemail,” he added.
Hill is running against state Rep. Doug Broxson for the northwest Florida state Senate seat being vacated by Greg Evers, who is term-limited. Evers is now running for Congress.
The Northwest Florida Daily News has reported on Broxson’s alleged “(breaking of) the law by first collaborating with a political action committee, then threatening Hill by relaying the organization’s willingness to provide ‘an unlimited amount of support’ to fund a negative campaign on Broxson’s behalf.”
“He and his cronies are now using the dirty tricks that the Broxson voicemail promised,” Hill said.
“Huge corporations and special interests know that I always fight to prevent the tax dollars of Floridians from going to slush funds and giveaways for millionaires and billionaires,” he continued. “Since they know their candidate is not the real conservative in this race, they use false accusations and political smears against the only genuine conservative running for Senate District 1.”
Broxson, a Gulf Breeze Republican, could not be reached at either of his district offices Thursday.