August 22, 2023 — Issue Brief

Homeowners who fall behind on their property taxes risk the swift loss of their homes through tax foreclosures if they cannot pay off the back taxes owed, plus any interest, fees, costs and penalties that
have accrued. The accumulated amounts needed to resolve the tax debt can be overwhelming and result
ultimately in the loss of their home.

The impact of property tax foreclosures is especially harsh for heirs who inherit property without a will or who have not yet filed probate. The remaining family members of the deceased owner may now own the home, but if their names are not on the deed, they are not the record owners of the property and may be unable to access property tax assistance programs. Obtaining property tax relief is further compounded by the costly and time-consuming process of establishing formal ownership.

In Florida, heirs are particularly disadvantaged through the wrongful imposition of a homestead exemption penalty for failing to immediately notify a county property appraiser of the death of the prior owner and apply for a new homestead exemption.