Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How a congressman avoids paying property taxes

It's not just cell tower companies that evade property taxes.
US Rep. Xavier Becerra of California

U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra, (Democrat from California) owns a "second home" in Chevy Chase, Maryland.   By claiming that his Chevy Chase home is his principal residence, he has received thousands of dollars of property tax credits from Montgomery County and the State of Maryland over the past several years.

At the same time, because of his status as a "California Congressman", Rep. Becerra pays no income taxes to the State of Maryland or to Montgomery County.

Although he "resides in" and represents (ostensibly, at least) a poverty-stricken swath of Los Angeles that contains the 4th largest concentration of working poor in the USA, Rep. Becerra's children attend prestigious public schools in a wealthy area of Montgomery County.  The annual cost of educating each of his three children in Montgomery County public schools is nearly $15,000, almost all of which is covered by Montgomery County taxpayers.

Rep. Becerra and his wife jointly own their "second home" in Chevy Chase.  Under Maryland law and property assessment regulations, their Chevy Chase home is not their "principal residence".  Nevertheless, Rep. Becerra has convinced officials at the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation to give his home "principal residence" status which, in turn, has enabled Montgomery County to issue thousands of dollars of property tax credits to which Rep. Becerra is not legally entitled.

Rep. Becerra's 2014 property tax bill shows a "County Property Tax Credit" of $692.   Although the details of the credit are not provided on the tax bill, county council records show that the credit is for the "ITOC", a tax credit that is legally allowed to be issued only to owners of properties that are used as the "principal residence" of the homeowner. 

Other congressmen who claimed "principal residence" status for their homes had that status revoked (and paid back the ill-gotten tax credits) after the media reported the tax abuses.   In at least one case, the House Ethics Committee investigated a congressman for improperly claiming principal residence status in Maryland, although he was eventually cleared of violating congressional rules (but still held responsible for payment of the taxes under Maryland law).

We've tried to reach Rep. Becerra numerous times to try to obtain an explanation about his claim of "principal residence" status for his Chevy Chase home but he has not returned our calls. 


  1. "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes"
    Leona Helmsley

  2. This is more about Montgomery County not fully enforcing the "primary residence" application system which the state began several years ago. After years of delay, the state had a deadline of Dec 2013 for applications with the aim of strictly using these applications to clean up the SDAT records. However, it is up to the counties to really implement this; and MoCo, fearing blow-back from residents who have not submitted the application, has decided not to deny "prime residence" status to those who have not applied. This is the case with Rep Becerra and his wife---they have not submitted an application to SDAT, so they continue to have the prime residence status based on the box being checked on the original 2009 property transfer.


If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT outlook.com