O.J. Simpson's Miami Home Controversy

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O.J. Simpson may be serving jail time in a Nevada prison, but his Miami home is still stirring up controversy. The surburban Kendall neighborhood's most-famous resident in absentia is ruffling local feathers by collecting the so-called homestead exemption on a house he doesn't occupy full-time. Simpson (pictured left at sentencing in 2008) was convicted in October 2008 of armed robbery, kidnapping and conspiracy after trying to retrieve some of his sports memorabilia from a dealer at a Las Vegas hotel.

Homestead tax exemptions exist in many states, including Florida, to protect the primary residence of an owner who has lost a spouse from being sold to pay property taxes and/or creditors. Neighbor David Weston began questioning the situation with Simpson's home a while back. "I noticed that the homestead exemption and related property tax reduction was still in place and reported it to the Miami Herald about two years ago with no further thought or action," Weston told AOL Real Estate.
Nothing transpired after this intial contact; two years went by and then Weston had occasion, through his job at a local permit compliance company, to contact the Miami-Dade County Appraiser's office on another matter. "While I had the associate on the telephone, I asked him about the deduction," says Weston. "The assistant appraiser who was helping me, and coincidentally lives in our neighborhood, also wondered about this."

The appraiser's office contacted him shortly afterward explaining that the Florida Department of Revenue had a "rule" regarding this matter.

"However, rules are developed in a public process, but are not laws," Weston says. "After learning that all felons living out of their homes qualified if they intended to return, I was going to simply contact the Florida Governor's office for them to review this matter, as I thought it was improper."

The rule he's referring to is DOR 12D-7.013, titled Homestead Exemptions-Abandonment, states that Temporary absence, regardless of the
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reason for such, will not deprive the property of its homestead character, providing an abiding intention to return is always present. This abiding intention to return is not to be determined from the words of the homesteader, but is a conclusion to be drawn from all the applicable facts.

Getting nowhere up to this point, he decided it might be more effective if there was some public opinion behind this, and so he re-contacted the Miami Herald. This time, they ran this article.

"What I found interesting was the polar reaction that I received [to my letter]," says Weston. "As you may have noticed from the Herald comments, some people thought I should have minded my own business, some felt sorry for O.J. (like the DOR employee interviewed by the Herald), and others thought as I did."

Weston forwarded the Miami Herald article to the Florida Governor's office and currently is awaiting a reply.

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