Politics

Uh-owe! Rahall in D.C. tax arrears

Uh-owe! Rahall in D.C. tax arrears

A millionaire West Virginia congressman owes back taxes on the $900, 000 Capitol Hill house.

According to District of Columbia tax records, the three-bedroom house at 1335 Independence Court, not far from the Southeast’s Lincoln Park, deeded to the residence of Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.V.), is in arrears for interest and penalties on

These interest and penalties are the legacy of the homestead exemption that Rahall took when he claimed the house as his primary residence, a status he stopped claiming after an Oct. 11 story about it ran in The Washington Times.

The story reported that Rahall took out a $541,000 mortgage on the property in 2004 and in 2006 he filed a document clarifying that he was the owner, not his son Rahall III, who was listed as the owner, and who at the time was serving time in federal prison on drug charges.

The district does not allow members of Congress to exploit the residential abatement because they are by definition residents of another locale.

Rahall had filed for the abatement that would have exempted the first $67,000 of his home’s assessed value. After the story by Times reporter Chuck Neubauer appeared the congressman withdrew it and paid what would have been his tax bill—but, to the concern of the district, he did not pay for the interest and penalties.

Other lawmakers have had similar problems with their property taxes

In 2009, Rep. Fortney H. “Pete” Stark (D.-Calif.) was called before the House Ethics Committee investigating his taking a homestead abatement on his $2 million Maryland home, where he lives with his family, while claiming as his residence a home in his district, lived in and owned by his wife’s parents.

The committee absolved Stark after its members determined that his taking the Maryland tax break because it was credited to him, but he has never requested it. In the case of Rahall, the West Virginia congressman filed for his homestead abatement for his Washington house, while also claiming a homestead abatement for his 10-room Mountain State home.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, a former California Democratic congresswoman, had her February 2009 confirmation hearings delayed until her husband before she was sworn in, paid his back taxes on his auto repair business.

In February 2012, this publication reported that Sen. Sherrod C. Brown (D.-Ohio) was in arrears to the district for the taxes on his $222,000 Capitol Hill condominium, but his did not claim it as his principle residence. The charge was used against Brown by his unsuccessful 2012 Republican opponent Ohio Atty. Gen. Joshua A. Mandel and validated as true by the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s “Truth-O-Meter” column.

Sen. Thomas A. Coburn (R.-Okla.) filed bill S.3791 in the current Congress to more strictly hold and members of Congress accountable by making them report any tax liability, so that it can be addressed and resolved.

“If the Member possesses a tax liability, this bill would require the appropriate congressional committee to launch an ethics investigation and the Member’s salary would be reduced in accordance with the amount he or she owes,” the senator said.

““Legislators and government employees should not be exempt from the laws they write and enforce.  It is time for every member of Congress to pay their taxes rather than simply spending the taxes of others.”

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