How to Appeal the Denial of a Broward/Miami-Dade Homestead Exemption

How to Appeal the Denial of a Broward/Miami-Dade Homestead Exemption

In Florida, property appraisers are required to notify homeowners by July 1st if their homestead exemption application has been denied. This notice can come as an unwelcome surprise. Here, we’ll explore common reasons for a homestead exemption denial and the steps you can take to appeal.

Why Was My Homestead Exemption Application Denied?

The most common reason for a homestead exemption application being denied is missing the statutory filing deadline. According to Florida Statute 196.011, applications must be filed by March 1st of the tax year for which the exemption is sought. If you miss this deadline, you generally forfeit the exemption for that year. However, if you can demonstrate extenuating circumstances, the property appraiser might still grant the exemption. If not, you would need to appeal to the Value Adjustment Board (VAB).

If your application was timely, the denial might be due to not meeting the homestead exemption requirements. For example, the property appraiser might determine that you don’t have the necessary interest in the property or that it wasn’t your permanent residence as of January 1st. For more details on the requirements, see my blog post on Qualifying for a Florida Homestead Exemption.

Notice of Denial

When a property appraiser decides to deny a homestead exemption application, they must send out a notice by July 1st, either hand-delivered or via registered mail to the address provided by the applicant (see Fla. Stat. 196.151). Since 2009, Florida Statute 196.193(5)(b) mandates that these notices include specific legal and factual reasons for the denial, written clearly enough for a reasonable person to understand. A notice that doesn’t meet these criteria is void. However, some counties argue that this statute doesn’t apply to homestead exemptions, an issue that remains unresolved by the courts.

Appealing to the Value Adjustment Board (VAB)

To appeal a homestead exemption denial, you can file a petition with the county VAB. Petitions must be submitted to the Clerk of the VAB (usually located in the Clerk of Court’s office) within 30 days of the notice of denial being mailed (see Fla. Stat. 194.011(3)(d)). In smaller counties, the full VAB hears the petition, while in larger counties, it is initially heard by a Special Magistrate, whose recommendation is then reviewed by the full VAB. If you don’t prevail at the VAB, you can appeal to the circuit court within 15 days of the VAB’s decision.

Appealing Directly to the Circuit Court

You also have the option to bypass the VAB and take your case directly to circuit court. This must be done within 60 days of the tax roll certification by the property appraiser. To file a circuit court action, you must pay your taxes in full or at least the amount you acknowledge as owing. Failure to pay can result in the dismissal of your case due to lack of jurisdiction (see Fla. Stat. 194.171).

Liens for Back Taxes

If you were receiving a homestead exemption but the property appraiser later determines you were ineligible, you must repay the back taxes with a 50% penalty and 15% interest (see Fla. Stat. 196.161). If you don’t pay within 30 days of receiving notice, the property appraiser can place a tax lien on all your property in the state. Retroactive removal of a homestead exemption can be very costly. Since it is unclear whether these issues can be brought before the VAB or must be handled in circuit court, consulting an attorney is highly advisable.

Need Help?

Navigating the appeal process for a homestead exemption denial can be complex. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to contact me, Attorney Gabriel Jose Carrera, at 954-533-7593 or via email at [email protected]. I can provide the legal guidance you need to ensure your appeal is handled properly.