Q: What can you tell us about the latest ongoing project at the property appraiser’s office?
A: Initially, this started as a review of all property tax exemptions in the county that had been granted to property owners over time. We were making sure the filed exemptions were still valid … after potential marriages, divorces and the purchase of property in other states. We completed this project and are now monitoring it going forward.
The second part of the project was to identify property in the county that we believe might qualify for an exemption, but the property owner didn’t apply for one.
Q: How did you identify these potential missed exemptions?
A: We used all publicly available data to ensure property owners are getting the exemptions they are entitled to. For instance, we used US Census data, information from the State of Florida, the IRS, the US Postal Service, the Veterans Administration and other age and demographic data to learn more about the property owners. As far as we know, we are the first property appraiser’s office to use data science to identify property owners for this purpose.
Q: What did you find?
A: We have identified approximately 2,000 property owners who may qualify for an exemption that they are not claiming. This is more than we expected. We think most are probably due to people just not understanding the exemptions available to them.
Q: What will you do with this information?
A: In mid to late March, we will be mailing out 2,000 postcards to these property owners. The postcards will be specifically addressed to the property owner and will contain the type of exemption we believe they might be entitled to. The postcard instructs the property owner to contact our office immediately so they can apply for their exemption this year.
My constitutional mandate is to make sure if you are qualified for an exemption, you should get it. This is especially important for low income seniors and veterans. Hopefully I will have an update on this next month for this column.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at Eddie@sjcpa.us or call me at (904) 827-5500.