In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court held a residence requirement set forth in Florida's homestead exemption statute to be invalid and unenforceable because the residence requirement was not required by the provision of the Florida Constitution which authorizes the homestead exemption. Garcia v. Andonie, Florida Supreme Court, No. SC11-554, October 4, 2012. Specifically, the statute required the taxpayer seeking the exemption to be a permanent resident in order to qualify for the exemption. However, the Court held that the Florida Constitution does not require a taxpayer to be a permanent resident to claim the exemption. Significantly, the Court emphasized that the constitutional requirement is an either/or proposition. In other words, a taxpayer either has to use the property as their permanent residence or the property has to be used as a permanent residence by individuals who are legally or naturally dependent on the taxpayer. A brief synopsis of the case is included below.
Facts: The taxpayers were citizens of Honduras who lived with their children at the property in question. The taxpayers were allowed to the stay in the United States pursuant to a temporary visa. The taxpayers' children were born in the United States and accordingly were citizens of the United States and the State of Florida.
Holding: Although the taxpayers could not claim permanent residence due to their temporary visas, they were nevertheless entitled to the homestead exemption because their children could claim the property as their permanent residence.