Busted: New tech aims to take a bite out of homestead exemption fraud

fraud (Large)
The system has netted Brevard and Duval more than $5 million from tax cheats

Brevard and Duval counties are cracking down on homestead exemption fraud, and they’re turning to tech to do it.

The counties last month rolled out a fraud detection suite developed by LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

The Homestead Fraud Detection Solution puts property tax filings side by side with thousands of public records and commercial data sets to suss out whether homeowners are paying their dues.

“Most of our residents are law-abiding citizens who claim only the homestead exemptions they’re entitled to, but there will always be some who try to take more than their fair share,” Duval County property appraiser Jerry Holland said.

“Working with LexisNexis Risk Solutions and TMA has helped us expose fraudulent and non-compliant claims, returning revenue due to the proper taxing authorities, allowing use of that money to support the needs of the citizens of Duval County.”

Florida homeowners can receive an exemption of up to $50,000 off the assessed value of their homes, saving them a bundle of cash on their property tax bill. However, the exemption only applies to permanent residences or the permanent residence of an owner’s dependent.

“Homestead exemption fraud is a real problem for many Florida counties, particularly when many residents erroneously claim a vacation property as their primary residence,” said Haywood Talcove, the CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ government branch.

“Brevard County and Duval County have joined a growing number of Florida counties that are using the Homestead Fraud Detection Solution to crack down on this challenge. They’re all using the solution to effectively save time and resources that would normally be required to track down and verify multiple properties and, in the process, have identified millions of dollars of new-found revenue.”

With the addition of Brevard and Duval, six counties have signed up for the homestead solution. LexisNexis said it has uncovered more than $16 million in new tax revenue for the counties using its solution.

Out of the 300,000 homestead exemptions claimed in the two counties, Brevard has found 400 fraudulent accounts and Duval has found 500. That’s resulted in $2.7 million and $2.4 million in collections, respectively.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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