The Real Deal Miami

Miami-Dade cracks down on homestead fraud

Sixteen county detectives begin training on how to sniff out cheats
July 31, 2013 03:00PM


From left: Tomás Regalado and Carlos Lopez-Cantera

As Miami-Dade County ramps up its efforts to curb homestead exemption fraud, 16 detectives have begun training to identify the crime, the Miami Herald reported.

The county’s property appraiser, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, requested help from 10 cities and the school board to investigate the increasingly prevalent problem, according to the Herald. Hialeah, South Miami and West Miami are among the cities that have agreed to contribute an investigator. Lopez-Cantera has a backlog of about 2,900 leads and plans to assign cases to investigators currently in training, the Herald said.

Miami-Dade Public Schools receives one of every three dollars in county property taxes. Therefore, the revenue shortfall that the school board is facing is partly due to tax cheats who claim improper homestead exemptions, the newspaper said.

“Homestead fraud is really a problem in our city because so many people buy properties and then rent them out,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said at a news conference this week.

For those eligible, homestead exemptions offer breaks on property taxes and protection from creditors. The status can guard $50,000 of a property’s value from taxation, or $25,000 for school taxes. Under a Save Our Homes cap, the assessed value of a homestead property can rise 3 percent a year at the most, regularly of market value increases. [Miami Herald]Mark Maurer