22 Jul Six Florida Counties Uncover More Than $16 Million in Revenue
Homestead exemption programs have returned revenue dollars to tax rolls, leading to funding for local schools, utilities, and more in a growing list of Florida counties.
WASHINGTON and CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ – LexisNexis® Risk Solutions today announced that two Florida counties—Brevard County and Duval County—have joined four other Florida counties that have used the company’s Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution to collectively uncover more than $16 million in new tax revenue resulting from homestead exemptions. The solution, which combines LexisNexis Risk Solutions public records databases with identity analytics technology and investigative capabilities from Tax Management Associations (TMA), helped the six counties identify nearly 2,000 erroneous and fraudulent tax filings pertaining to Florida’s homestead property tax exemption. These counties were then able to collect taxes from those filings and discover new sources of revenue.
Over 300,000 people claimed the homestead exemption across Brevard County and Duval County on their 2018 tax returns. Out of those, Brevard County has detected more than 400 fraudulent accounts, resulting in the collection of $2.723 million in new tax revenue as of May 2019. Meanwhile, to date, Duval County has detected more than 500 fraudulent accounts totaling $2.358 million in new tax revenue.
Florida law stipulates that counties may go back and collect revenue from the previous ten years once an instance of fraud is discovered. To date, Brevard County and Duval County have been able to place more than $34 million of new revenue back into the jurisdictions’ tax rolls. The money collected is being used to fund public services, including education, utilities, roads and more.
“Our task from Dana Blickley, the Brevard County Property Appraiser, is to ensure any exemptions applied for and granted are accurately and fairly assessed,” said Ed Pollock, director of Homestead Investigations. “The Brevard County Property Appraiser places a high priority on the prevention of Homestead fraud or the erroneous receipt of exemptions. The Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution provided an effective, efficient and productive method of pinpointing and identify those instances; thereby exponentially enhancing the recovery efforts for lost tax revenue to Brevard County and municipalities.”
“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,” said Jerry Holland, Duval County property appraiser. “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.”
The Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution uses proprietary identity analytics to detect fraudulent activity and erroneous filings by cross-checking customer records against more than 10,000 public records and commercial data sources. By reviewing existing exemptions, the solution can help detect key indicators for fraud or non-compliance, including duplicate exemption filings and family members receiving deductions under a deceased property owners’ name.
“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, CEO, Government, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “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.”
“Brevard County, Duval County, and the other counties that are using the Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution are models for successfully identifying homestead exemption fraud and using those insights to better their communities,” said Richard (Chip) Cooke, Jr., CEO, TMA, which investigates the findings by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, verifies the information, and prioritizes accounts for collection. “They have proven that using an external solution—rather than relying solely on internal, manual auditing—can accurately unveil millions of dollars of new tax revenue that can be put to good use.”