Illinois Congressional Candidate Bagged For Improper R/E Tax Exemption Claims On Two Homesteads; Says It Was Inadvertent, Coughs Up Unpaid Cash
- A suburban congressional candidate improperly claimed two homeowner exemptions at once over a period of several years, a Daily Herald investigation has found. But after the Daily Herald pointed out the error, Tammy Duckworth says she paid $1,928 in taxes she saved because of the extra exemption, plus an added $612 in penalties.
“They didn't think about it,” Duckworth spokesman Kaitlin Fahey said of the issue. “Taxes were paid out of escrow. This wasn't like beating the system.”
County records show Duckworth claimed homestead exemptions in both DeKalb and Cook counties from 2007 to 2010. The Hoffman Estates Democrat is running against Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, of McHenry, in the 8th Congressional District.
By law, Illinois residents can only claim the exemption on the property that is their primary residence. The exemption reduces the amount of property taxes owed by lowering a property's assessed value.
The DeKalb exemption was filed first, after Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey purchased the property in 1997. In DeKalb County, Chief County Assessment Officer Robin Brunschon said, exemptions are automatically renewed each year unless residents notify the assessor's office that they have changed their primary address.
Duckworth and Bowlsbey purchased a Hoffman Estates home in 2002. They now rent out the DeKalb property, receiving between $5,000 and $15,000 annually in income from it, according to the Financial Disclosure Statement that candidates, office holders, and high-level government employees are required to submit to the United States House of Representatives.
- The four years of claiming the benefit in DeKalb County saved Duckworth $1,928, Brunschon said. Duckworth has sent a check to DeKalb County to cover what she would have paid without the exemption, plus an added $612 in late fees, Sullivan said.