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Florida Court: Married Couple Not Entitled to Two Homestead Tax Exemptions

On September 3, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal of Florida, in Brklacic v. Parrish, held that the appellant was not entitled to a homestead tax exemption for his residence in Broward, as a homestead tax exemption was granted for his wife’s Palm Beach residence.

1) Relevant Law

Article VII, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution permits “(e)very person who has the legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains thereon the permanent residence of the owner” to claim a homestead tax exemption, but “(n)ot more than one exemption shall be allowed any individual or family unit or with respect to any residential unit.”  Florida Admin. Code Rule 12D-7.007(7) provides that both husband and wife may be granted homestead exemptions if the property appraiser determines that husband and wife established separate “family units.”  In addition, numerous appellate cases and opinions from the Florida Attorney General address the notion of “family units.”

2) Analysis of Law

The court focused on whether appellant and his wife established separate “family units,” thereby justifying two homestead exemptions  or one “family unit,” thereby justifying one exemption.  It  maintained that law and persuasive authority lean toward finding that a married couple constitutes a single “family unit” when the marriage is intact, as opposed to the couple being separated or estranged.  Thus, a single “family unit” exists when spouses who live in separate residences live together at different periods of time, support each other in some financial or emotional way, and/or present themselves as a married couple.

The court found that because appellant and his wife maintained an intact marriage, they are a single “family unit.”  Because appellant and his wife are a single “family unit,” they are entitled to one homestead exemption, which appellant’s wife already claimed.

3) Conclusion

Appellant is not entitled to a homestead exemption for his residence in Broward.

 

Want to further discuss these issues?  Contact me at 954-944-3929 or nrumbak@rumbaklaw.com.

*This document contains legal information, but does not contain legal advice.

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