Florida Senate - 2016                                    SB 1324
       By Senator Altman
       16-01195-16                                           20161324__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to taxation; amending s. 196.141,
    3         F.S.; authorizing a property appraiser to contract for
    4         services to examine or audit claimed homestead tax
    5         exemptions; specifying requirements for such
    6         contracts; requiring a contractor to provide certain
    7         information to the person claiming the exemption;
    8         prohibiting certain actions by a contractor; requiring
    9         a contractor to disclose results to the property
   10         appraiser; requiring the property appraiser to
   11         initiate specified proceedings if he or she determines
   12         a person is not entitled to an exemption; specifying
   13         responsibility for a contractor’s performance;
   14         providing for the source of funds for the contractor’s
   15         compensation; providing for the property appraiser’s
   16         receipt and distribution of interest and back taxes;
   17         amending s. 196.161, F.S.; requiring a property
   18         appraiser to file a tax lien against certain property
   19         for certain unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest
   20         after a specified time; requiring a tax lien to remain
   21         on the property until such amounts are paid in full;
   22         revising the process for the collection of such unpaid
   23         amounts; specifying the priority of the lien; deleting
   24         a provision that specifies the process by which a lien
   25         attaches to property and that requires tax collectors
   26         to record notices of tax liens in other counties in
   27         certain circumstances; amending s. 213.30, F.S.;
   28         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   29         providing a declaration of important state interest;
   30         providing an effective date.
   32  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   34         Section 1. Section 196.141, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   35  read:
   36         196.141 Homestead exemptions; duty of property appraiser.—
   37         (1) The property appraiser shall examine each claim for
   38  exemption filed with or referred to him or her and shall allow
   39  the exemption same, if found to be in accordance with law, by
   40  marking the exemption same approved and by making the proper
   41  deductions on the assessment rolls tax books.
   42         (2) The property appraiser may contract for services to
   43  examine or audit homestead tax exemptions claimed on assessment
   44  rolls. Agreements for such contracted services must provide, at
   45  a minimum, that:
   46         (a) The contractor may contact persons claiming a homestead
   47  exemption only with the written approval of, and in a manner
   48  prescribed by, the property appraiser. The contractor must
   49  notify the person claiming the homestead exemption that the
   50  contractor has been contracted by the property appraiser as a
   51  third party to examine or audit homestead tax exemptions. The
   52  contractor must provide the property appraiser’s contact
   53  information to the person claiming the homestead exemption and
   54  provide notice that any questions related to the examination or
   55  audit should be directed to the property appraiser. The
   56  contractor may not:
   57         1. Falsely personate a government official.
   58         2. Communicate with the person between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in
   59  the person’s time zone without the person’s prior consent.
   60         3. Suggest, communicate, or threaten that the person owes
   61  any money.
   62         4. Disclose or threaten to disclose any information that is
   63  not a public record to a person other than the person claiming
   64  the homestead exemption, the person’s authorized representative,
   65  an adult occupant of the property receiving the homestead
   66  exemption, the property appraiser, or the property appraiser’s
   67  agents or employees.
   68         5. Publish or post, threaten to publish or post, or cause
   69  to be published or posted to the general public any individual
   70  names or list of names.
   71         (b) After the contractor completes the examination or
   72  audit, the contractor must disclose the results to the property
   73  appraiser. The property appraiser shall determine whether the
   74  person was entitled to the homestead exemption, and initiate
   75  proceedings pursuant to ss. 196.151 and 196.161 if the property
   76  appraiser determines the person was not entitled to the
   77  homestead exemption.
   78         (c) The contractor is solely responsible to the property
   79  appraiser for any claims arising from the contractor’s
   80  performance.
   81         (d) The contractor’s compensation must consist solely of a
   82  portion, as specified in the agreement, of the back taxes and
   83  penalties imposed pursuant to this chapter and collected on the
   84  assessments resulting from the contractor’s examination or audit
   85  and the removal of homestead exemptions from previous and
   86  current year tax rolls.
   87         (e) A property appraiser contracting for such services may
   88  receive the interest imposed pursuant to this chapter and
   89  collected on the taxes owed on assessment rolls for the current
   90  and previous years. After distributing the compensation for such
   91  contracted services and the interest that the property appraiser
   92  retains, the tax collector shall distribute any back taxes
   93  collected under chapter 197.
   94         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (1) and subsections
   95  (2) and (3) of section 196.161, Florida Statutes, are amended to
   96  read:
   97         196.161 Homestead exemptions; lien imposed on property of
   98  person claiming exemption although not a permanent resident.—
   99         (1)
  100         (b) In addition, upon determination by the property
  101  appraiser that for any year or years within the prior 10 years a
  102  person who was not entitled to a homestead exemption was granted
  103  a homestead exemption from ad valorem taxes, it shall be the
  104  duty of the property appraiser making such determination shall
  105  to serve upon the owner a notice of intent to record in the
  106  public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any
  107  property owned by that person in the county, and such property
  108  shall be identified in the notice of tax lien. Such property
  109  which is situated in this state shall be subject to the taxes
  110  exempted thereby, plus a penalty of 50 percent of the unpaid
  111  taxes for each year and 15 percent interest per annum. However,
  112  if a homestead exemption is improperly granted as a result of a
  113  clerical mistake or an omission by the property appraiser, the
  114  person improperly receiving the exemption shall not be assessed
  115  penalty and interest. Before any such lien may be filed, the
  116  owner so notified must be given 30 days to pay the taxes,
  117  penalties, and interest. The property appraiser shall file the
  118  tax lien for the taxes, penalties, and interest that remain
  119  unpaid 30 days after the notice is sent. Such tax lien remains
  120  on the property until the taxes, penalties, and interest are
  121  paid in full.
  122         (2) Except when a homestead exemption is improperly granted
  123  as the result of a clerical error by the property appraiser, the
  124  taxes, penalties, and interest assessed pursuant to this section
  125  which are not paid in full must be included in the next tax
  126  notice and collected in the same manner as, and in addition to,
  127  the current ad valorem taxes under chapter 197, including the
  128  annual tax certificate sale, when appropriate The collection of
  129  the taxes provided in this section shall be in the same manner
  130  as existing ad valorem taxes, and the above procedure of
  131  recapturing such taxes shall be supplemental to any existing
  132  provision under the laws of this state.
  133         (3) The lien required under subsection (1) constitutes a
  134  first lien as set forth in s. 197.122 herein provided shall not
  135  attach to the property until the notice of tax lien is filed
  136  among the public records of the county where the property is
  137  located. Prior to the filing of such notice of lien, any
  138  purchaser for value of the subject property shall take free and
  139  clear of such lien. Such lien when filed shall attach to any
  140  property which is identified in the notice of lien and is owned
  141  by the person who illegally or improperly received the homestead
  142  exemption. Should such person no longer own property in the
  143  county, but own property in some other county or counties in the
  144  state, it shall be the duty of the property appraiser to record
  145  a notice of tax lien in such other county or counties,
  146  identifying the property owned by such person in such county or
  147  counties, and it shall become a lien against such property in
  148  such county or counties.
  149         Section 3. Subsection (3) of section 213.30, Florida
  150  Statutes, is amended to read:
  151         213.30 Compensation for information relating to a violation
  152  of the tax laws.—
  153         (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this
  154  section and s. 196.141 are is the sole means by which any person
  155  may seek or obtain any moneys as the result of, in relation to,
  156  or founded upon the failure by another person to comply with the
  157  tax laws of this state. A person’s use of any other law to seek
  158  or obtain moneys for such failure is in derogation of this
  159  section and s. 196.141 and conflicts with the state’s duty to
  160  administer the tax laws.
  161         Section 4. The Legislature finds that this act fulfills an
  162  important state interest.
  163         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.