people first, then money

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

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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!

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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.