WINTER HAVEN, Fla., June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- J. Kelly Kennedy, a Winter Haven Attorney and Certified Public Accountant, filed a declaratory action against the Polk County Property Tax Appraiser's Office in April, 2013 and recently amended it as a class action suit against all 67 Florida County Property Tax Appraisers and the Florida Department of Revenue. The amended case will affect thousands of Florida homeowners who overpaid real property taxes since 2008. "I estimate this government error has cost 10 to 25 thousand taxpayers of Florida somewhere between $10 and $40 million," Kennedy stated. "This error has gone undetected since the 'Save Our Homes' statute was amended in 2007, and it is my sincere hope that I can help those taxpayers wrongly injured by their government."
According to the Florida Department of Revenue, approximately 130,000 taxpayers have transferred their "Save Our Homes" exemption from one home to another since the law came into effect in 2007. This equated to real property tax exemptions totaling approximately $7.7 billion.
"Save Our Homes" began in 1995 as a result of a taxpayer initiated Amendment to the Florida Constitution (Article VII, Section 4). Florida Statute Chapter 193 was enacted as a result of the constitutional amendment, which capped the increase of the assessed value of homestead property to the lessor of three percent or the consumer price index. In 2007 the law was amended to allow homeowners to carry their exemption to a new home. This is referred to as "portability" or "porting." The 2007 amendment contains a series of calculations to cover all types of changes in home ownership, such as the purchasing of a larger home, purchasing a smaller home or changing the number of owners of the property.
According to Kennedy's lawsuit, the taxpayers who have been charged excessive real property taxes are all Florida residents who:
- Owned their Florida homestead with another person,
- Sold or abandoned that home and individually bought another Florida homestead of lesser value within 2 years,
- From 2007 to today; and
- Were granted a "Save Our Homes" exemption from their prior home to the new home.
Those affected by the lawsuit include co-owners such as divorced couples, unmarried couples, same sex couples, parent-child, or any ownership in which the prior home was owned by two people, one of whom bought a new home since January 1, 2007.
The issue came to Kennedy's attention when Kennedy, who resides in Polk County, Florida, calculated the "Save Our Homes" exemption that should have "ported" to his new home. Kennedy's calculation differed from the amount calculated by the Polk County Property Tax Appraiser's Office. In September 2012, Mr. Kennedy disputed the Polk County Property Tax Appraiser's calculation and petitioned the Polk County Value Adjustment Board for it to reconsider the Polk County Property Tax Appraiser's position. His request was denied.
Florida law provided that Kennedy's only remedy was to sue the County Property Tax Appraiser in the circuit court. As a result of his personal case, Kennedy now has pledged to represent all those who were similarly situated as he and harmed by the county property tax appraisers throughout the State of Florida. "While paying taxes is a fact of life, paying more than your fair share as a result of government error is the worst case scenario that I see in my practice," Kennedy said. "I pledge to do everything within my power to see that these wronged taxpayers get their money back."
To insure that the issue receives appropriate attention from the Florida Department of Revenue, all concerned taxpayers are encouraged to contact their Florida legislative representatives. For more information on how this may affect individuals similarly situated, contact your local County Property Tax Appraisers Office, the Florida Department of Revenue or your state representative.
About J. Kelly Kennedy, Esquire: J. Kelly Kennedy is an Attorney and Certified Public Accountant. His practice areas include Estate Planning & Probate, Business & Commercial Law, Real Estate & Title Insurance and Taxation. Mr. Kennedy has practiced law in Winter Haven for the last 30 years, and has practiced as a Certified Public Accountant for 34 years. He has deep personal and professional connections to Polk County, Florida.
More information can be found at http://www.jkellykennedylaw.com/.
SOURCE J. Kelly Kennedy, Esquire