Foley Pro Bono Team Helps Deceased Veteran’s Widow Obtain Property Tax Relief

20 February 2020 News

A team of lawyers from Foley’s Tampa office has helped the widow of a deceased Iraq war veteran obtain a property tax exemption intended for the surviving spouses of veterans who die of service-related  causes while on active duty in the armed forces.

The Foley team, which consisted of partner Adam Alaee, retired partner Chris Griffin, special counsel Larry Dougherty and associate Evan Malloy, represented Teri Ann Bell, whose husband, Ryan Michael Bell, was killed in action while serving in Iraq on March 5, 2007.

Ms. Bell’s 2013 application for a property tax exemption under a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2012 was denied by the Hillsborough County property appraiser on the sole ground that her husband was not a resident of Florida on January 1 of the year in which he died.

The Foley team, which handled the case on a pro bono basis, persuaded a circuit judge in 2018 to hold that the residency requirement was invalid and unenforceable because it materially and improperly limited the class of taxpayers entitled to the benefit.

The state appealed, but an appeals court affirmed the lower court ruling in a February 19 decision.

For more, read the Law360 article, “Fla. Law Unconstitutionally Restricts Vet Tax Break, Panel Says”.