Friday, October 30, 2009
Hebron Homestead Exemption 2006-08
For some reason I had thought that the homestead exemption for the Nygrens' residence in Hebron had been established in 2007. Maybe it was the letter from Donna Mayberry, Assessor for McHenry County, that caused me to think that.
Look again at the careful construction of her letter to the Lee County, Fla. Assessor last March. You can read it on http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/ and on http://www.dirtykeithvsdirtyharry.blogspot.com/
That letter from the McHenry County Assessor reads, in part: "In our county, we do not have an application process to obtain the owner-occupied exemption. The local township assessor makes the determination of eligibility and certifies the information to the county. As a result, the Nygren property in Illinois received the exemption in 2007 and 2008, even though the property owner had not requested it and did not intend to have it."
How carefully that is worded. A casual reader might initially understand that the exemption was new in 2007. But the exemption was already in place in 2007. In fact, the exemption was in place in 2006! But the Mayberry letter didn't include that.
In a check today with the McHenry County Assessor's office, I learned that the homestead exemption was in place on the Nygrens' Hebron home in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but not in 2005.
For me, this sheds some additional light on the issue surrounding their homestead exemption on their Cape Coral, Florida home that they purchased in September 2006. (Photo, above, of Cape Coral, Fla. home purchased by the Nygrens in September 2006 for $620,000)
It wasn't just that the Illinois exemption slid through into McHenry County Assessor's records, where it went "unnoticed" by the Nygrens when the application for homestead exemption in Lee County, Florida was filed on January 29, 2007. When they received their 2006 property tax bill (in 2007), shouldn't they have noticed it?
Although the Florida homestead exemption application may have been signed only Mrs. Nygren on a home that they both purchased only four months earlier, it's hard to imagine that they didn't talk about it as they considered the value of the exemption in reduced taxes and the timing for the application.
Why January 2007? They bought the house in September 2006. Keith Nygren was re-elected Sheriff on November 7, 2006. Mrs. Nygren got her Florida driver's license on November 22, 2006, only two weeks after Keith was re-elected Sheriff AND nine days before his official Term of Office began on December 1, 2006.
So Keith Nygren was already in office on January 29, 2007, when Mrs. Nygren applied for the homestead exemption on their home in Cape Coral.
This important (bold, capitalized) information appears on the Lee County, Fla. Assessor's website: INFORMATION/DOCUMENTATION IS REQUIRED IN ORDER TO FILE FOR ANY EXEMPTION - PERMANENT FLORIDA RESIDENCY, OWNERSHIP AND OCCUPANCY** OF THE PROPERTY AS YOUR PRIMARY HOMESTEAD PROPERTY IS REQUIRED AS OF JANUARY 1
And check this out for a Penalty: "Any person who knowingly and willfully gives false information for the purpose of claiming homestead exemption is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. 196.131, F.S."
The 2006 homestead exemption on the Hebron property was in place, when the application was made for the Lee County, Fla. homestead exemption. Had the Nygrens been notified by the Hebron Township Assessor of the exemption? And, if so, when?
Although the application for homestead exemption in Cape Coral was filed on January 29, 2007 only by Florida resident Margarete Nygren on the home owned by Keith and Margarete Nygren in Cape Coral, Florida law does not presume or assume that Keith was a Florida resident. Florida allows one of the co-owners to apply for the exemption, but neither owner can take the residency-based exemption elsewhere, as the Nygrens did on their Hebron home for two years.
Until, that is, an anonymous caller phoned the Lee County, Fla. Assessor's office in March and tipped them off to the Hebron homestead exemption.