(I am posting this on behalf of Paula. John) My name is Paula Stovall. Earlier this year, FL Homestead Services helped me with information concerning the denial of my homestead application by Kesley Colbert, the Gulf county tax appraiser. My VAB hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19th at 9:00 AM. Mr. Colbert is planning to say that I have not established a separate family unit as the reason for the denial. I would like to know if there is any information reguarding this, available, to help me combat his testimony for the VAB.
I was denied homestead exemption in Port Saint Joe because my husband, who resides and works in Georgia, was not a legal resident of Florida and did not work in the state. I requested an application for homestead exemption by phone a month before the March 1st deadline.
The first thing Mr. Colbert, the Gulf County tax appraiser, wanted to know was if my husband was a Florida resident and worked in the state too. When I answered no to this question, he quickly informed me I did not qualify and refused to even give me the application form. I contacted the Florida Department of Revenue immediately with this information. They not only refuted Colbert's statement, but offered to send me an application plus a declaration of domicile form I needed to submit along with my application.
A few days later, I attempted to submit my information in person, to an employee on duty in the property appraiser's office. She (Ms. Maige) refused to allow me to submit my application and instructed me to come back in three days . I asked why she was refusing to simply take it herself right then, because I didn't see any other employees in the office . If she was on duty in Mr. Colbert's office, I could not understand why she would not have the authority to just take it and place it in appropriate place. She said I needed to give it to Mr. Colbert personally.
I immediately called Florida's office for the Department of Revenue for the second time to report yet another problem concerning homestead exemption matters. I was told my application should have been accepted by Ms. Maige. They suggested sending it via certified mail so I would have a receipt showing proof that I complied with the March 1st deadline.
The only information I've been able to find was in AGO 75-146 last paragraph--"However, if one spouse should continue to maintain the home of the other, such as making payments on the mortgage, and for insurance and taxes, it would appear that the spouses under such circumstances have not established separate units." I need to prove, somehow, that I have established a separate family unit, but I can't find any other source that even mentions requirements for this alone.
Separate residences and separate family units are always referred to at the same time. This AGO does state that the wife can establish a separate residence without being legally separated, in determining whether they have also established separate family units and still have a marriage relationship.
If you can offer another source that has anything to help me disprove Mr. Colbert's objection to granting me homestead exemption, I would greatly appreciate it. Mr. Sims was the person that helped me earlier by phone and email. Without his help earlier in the summer, I seriously doubt I would even know how to begin stating my position to the VAB. He not only provided factual information and other sources, he supplied the inspiration I needed to boost my confidence level to begin the "fight" at all.