Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat and a candidate the Obama campaign likes to tout, has been accused of being a tax cheat after a Chicago newspaper suggested she illegally claimed homestead exemptions on two properties from 2007 to 2010. Illinois state law allows for taxpayers to claim only one such exemption, on the property that is their primary residence.
The Daily Herald discovered records that showed Duckworth claimed homestead exemptions in both DeKalb and Cook counties from 2007 to 2010. The homestead exemptions reduced the assessed values of both properties, lowering the amount of property taxes owed on them.
Even worse, during those years, Duckworth was actually living in Washington, D.C. and not in Illinois. Duckworth is in a competitive race against Republican Rep. Joe Walsh in Illinois' eighth congressional district.
President Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod, who has relentlessly accused Mitt Romney of being a tax cheat and has called on him to release his tax returns, has hosted fundraisers for Duckworth and has been one of her strongest supporters. Duckworth is also a candidate the Obama campaign likes to talk up at events on the campaign trail. Democrats and mainstream media networks have touted her as one of the party’s next stars.
In light of all this, these revelations make Democrats seem even more hypocritical when it comes to taxes.
By illegally claiming two exemptions, Duckworth saved $1,928 in taxes. The Duckworth campaign says she has paid back the $1,928 in addition to $612 in late fees in the past week--though county officials have not received those fees yet.
The Duckworth campaign’s spin is that Duckworth was “unaware” she had been claiming two homeowner exemptions -- for three years -- between 2007 and 2010.
“They didn't think about it,” a Duckworth spokesman said. “Taxes were paid out of escrow. This wasn't like beating the system.”
DeKalb County Chief Assessment Officer Robin Brunschon said exemptions are automatically renewed each year unless his office is notified that the taxpayer has changed their primary residence.
The Duckworth campaign claims Duckworth never filed for the Cook County homeowner exemption and that Duckworth only received the exemption after applying for a veterans tax credit in 2007. The campaign claims in 2010, Duckworth completed a change of address form and noted that the DeKalb county address was still her primary residence, even as she was living in Washington, D.C.
A Walsh's campaign spokesman said it may be “conceivable that she probably just forgot which one of her Illinois homes she was pretending to live in” but Duckworth “should now apologize to voters of the 8th District so we can move back to the issues that voters care about; jobs and the economy.”
Democrats had relentlessly attacked Walsh for his tax and financial problems, including unpaid taxes and his failure to pay nearly $100,000 in child support payments, which has since been resolved.
The mainstream media and Democrats, though, have looked the other way when one of their darlings has been proven to have cheated on her taxes.
Photo credit: Uncovered Politics