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CASE STUDY

St. Johns County, Florida collects $1 Million in Back Taxes and Penalties; Adds $100 Million Taxable Value with TrueRoll™
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Quick facts

  • 70,000 properties with exemptions

  • 2,500+ questionnaires sent, half replied electronically

  • Identified more than 900 unqualified exemptions including over 150 unqualified short term rentals
     

  • 235+ property liens and counting

  • $100 MILLION taxable value added

  • $1 MILLION back taxes and penalties collected

Challenge

Property Appraiser Eddie Creamer needed a more efficient, sustainable way to ensure fair distribution of the St. Johns County's revenue burden from over 148,000 residential parcels and 70,000 homestead exempt parcels. Creamer knew there was a significant amount of taxable value missing from their annual tax roll based on Florida’s statutory homestead eligibility requirements. 

 

Approach


TrueRoll partnered with Creamer to proactively monitor all parcels receiving homestead exemptions, which enabled him to perform a historical audit on the entire jurisdiction. TrueRoll tuned its algorithms to spot unqualified exemptions by leveraging their access to national datasets and matching algorithms that determine the eligibility of the county’s properties for exemption. These datasets included national deed registrations, rental observations, data from short-term rental addresses, national voter registration, and thousands of other reference datasets aimed at determining eligibility in real time.

 

In addition, TrueRoll’s Citizen Engagement module allowed St. Johns to quickly mail 2,500+ questionnaire affidavits, using templates customized for the reason(s) the exemptions were flagged for review (rental listings, additional homesteads, etc.). Homeowners could respond via mail or electronically, and St. Johns used TrueRoll’s case management system to make a final decision on each candidate, track the history of each parcel, and generate reports on the results.

Results

 

TrueRoll automated the review of all 70,000 exempt properties and identified a few thousand exemptions that were potentially unqualified based on the various eligibility flags. The results were sorted and assigned a confidence score using artificial intelligence. 

 

With help from TrueRoll, Creamer uncovered significant unrealized taxable value for St. Johns, amounting to $100 million in taxable value added and $1 million in back taxes and penalties collected. Plus, Creamer moved beyond one-time audits and is now able to maintain a proactively-accurate exemption roll.

 

St. Johns intends to continue using TrueRoll to monitor existing data and to adjudicate new homestead exemption applications. St. Johns has integrated their Custom CAMA solution (by Thomson Reuters) with TrueRoll so their customer service agents have access to all information from both systems at each workstation.

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“To monitor homestead exemptions in-house I would probably have to assign three staff internally, full time, or hire three new staff, and subscribe to LexisNexis or some service like that, and then go through the process.”

Eddie Creamer

Property Appraiser, St. Johns County

Source: GovTech - Startup Aims to Modernize the Property Tax Exemption Audit