people first, then money

Were Suze Orman + Kathy Travis Scamming Their Way Into Home Tax Exemptions?


The real-life Suze Orman, and not the version of her that appears on Saturday Night Live, is having an actual financial crisis. Shocking, giving financial advice is what this woman traffics in! But for all her suggestions about reviewing your FICO score, paying down debt, and having a safety net of cash, one thing she didn’t tell you was about her secret way of saving money: have your partner claim a tax exemption that she isn’t owed!

Orman’s partner Kathy Travis, who also operates as the CNBC host’s business manager, just lost her homestead exemption — which give surviving partners of a dead spouse protection from property taxes and the forced sale of a house to pay creditors — because she claimed a shared home with Orman in California and Florida. We’re not tax experts, but apparently that’s one too many!


Which means she lost her exemption on the California property in San Francisco — after the muckraking website Web Of Deception alerted the county to the double-dipping. “The property owner for this parcel did not respond to our notice to advise us which location is their primary residence,” writes the exemptions manager for the City of San Francisco. “As a result, we are removing their homeowner’s exemption in our County.”

Ouch! There goes an exemption on the $1 million San Francisco home. But for now, it appears Orman and Travis can keep their exemption on the $803,000 property in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. And of course, there’s always the New York City condo.

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  • JoeB

    Big deal. The CA homeowner’s exemption is a $7000 credit on the assessed value of the home (not on property taxes). Essentially you take a deduction on the assessed value property tax. So if your home is worth $979K(at purchase + moderate inflation) you are assessed as if you live in a home worth $972K.

    With a tax rate of somewhere between 1% and 1.25% on the assessed home value, this essentially means is that Orman and Travis ‘scammed’ somewhere between $70-80 per year from their CA real estate taxes. The house was purchased in 1996, probably occupied by Travis prior to her relationship began with Orman (in 2000 acc. to wikipedia). BFD. This looks to me more like an accounting oversight and the amount we’re talking about is miniscule ($70 x 8 yrs where it MAY not have been her primary residence).

  • Swarm

    #1 is correct. It’s nothing. Queerty,taxes?

    Focus on Obama’s healthcare and the House & Senate bills. There are so many hidden taxes you head spins. Obama will kill business and the costs will be passed onto the consumer.

    “Medical device number” taxes include toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpicks, thermometers of all types, diabetic blood monitors, urine test strips, crutches, walkers, canes, sleep apnea devices, eye patches, bandages of all types, hearing aids, glasses, contact lenses, orthotics . . . oh, and don’t forget the tampons. Watch out for the sure to come condom tax.

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