Homestead non-compliance or fraud occurs when a person who has filed for homestead exemption or is currently receiving
homestead exemption is determined not to be a permanent resident of Lee County. Residency is determined by many factors
such as Florida Driver’s License, Lee County voter registration or Declaration of Domicile, Florida vehicle registration,
place of employment, location where children are enrolled in school….and the list goes on…..(refer to FS 196).
Check your important documents to be sure that you have transferred all information necessary to correctly reflect your
permanent/primary residence ...…..
Your Florida driver’s license must be updated any time there is a name or address change – make sure your address is current.
(FS 322.19). Your driver’s license residence address must be the same as your homestead site address in order to qualify for
exemption in Lee County. If you are a registered voter, you must register to vote in Lee County and your voter registration
residence address must be the same as your homestead site address. Non-voters are required to complete and record a Declaration
of Domicile - available at the appraiser's office. If you claim homestead exemption in Lee County and file a state income tax
return in another state indicating you are a permanent resident of that state, you do not qualify for homestead in Lee County Florida.
Don’t be misinformed – you cannot rent your property for a few months every year and continue to qualify for homestead.
Property owners who claim homestead exemption and then rent out the homestead property (seasonally or annually) do not qualify
for homestead (Section 196.061 Florida Statutes). You can own another home and spend time vacationing there, you can travel in
your motor home for months at a time - there is no requirement that you reside in Lee County for 6 months and one day. You MUST,
however, in good faith reside on the property and it must be your primary, permanent residence. If you are married – you and
your spouse can claim only one location for purposes of homestead exemption, tax credit or roll-back. Even though each spouse
may individually own separate properties (individually, jointly in Trust, etc), each spouse cannot claim a separate homestead
for purposes of tax exemption. There are certain circumstances where married persons would each be able to claim separate
dwellings as homestead exempt properties and in order to qualify under those circumstances, they would need to prove a
“separation of the family unit” as pursuant to Article VII S 6(b), Florida Constitution, Florida Administrative Code 12D-7.007(7).
Contact the appraiser’s office for more information.
Some states refer to residency based exemptions as homestead, tax credits, roll-backs and other titles – it’s up to each taxpayer
to be sure they are not receiving any of these benefits while claiming the exemption in Lee County – it’s against the law!
It is the responsibility of each taxpayer receiving the homestead exemption in Lee County to be sure that they are not receiving
an exemption, tax credit or roll-back in any other state – call the assessor’s office to make sure you aren’t breaking the law.
If it is determined that you received a residency based exemption benefit elsewhere while claiming same in Lee County, at the very
least, you are subject to back taxes with penalties and interest. Most importantly, any person who knowingly and willfully gives
false information for the purpose of claiming homestead exemption is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a
term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both. (FS 196.131(12). Don’t hesitate - if you have
questions about what constitutes non-compliance or fraud – contact our office immediately.