Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young collected a homestead tax credit of about $1,000 on a rowhouse in East Baltimore he doesn’t live in ― and will return the money, a spokesman said Monday.
Young owns two homes in East Baltimore ― a condo on Central Avenue worth $62,600 and a house five blocks away on Madison Street worth $70,000. He has collected the tax credit for an owner-occupied property for years at the Madison Street address, which he considers his longtime home.
Until recently, he said he split time between the residences. But this year, according to Young’s spokesman, Young and his wife turned over the Madison Street home to their daughter and her new husband, who were married in December 2018.
While Young then began to stay full-time at his condo at the Central Avenue address, he didn’t update tax records and didn’t collect the homestead tax credit there. Instead, he continued to collect the benefit at the Madison Street house, tax records show.
Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said the mayor still considers the Madison Street address his home and will move back there once his daughter has her own home. Davis said he did not know the exact month that Young formally changed residences.
Davis noted Young could have collected the tax credit at his new address, which had a similar value, but said the mayor forgot to update his paperwork because the switch happened after he was elevated to the city’s top job in April.
Davis said Young is not collecting rent from his daughter, but is nonetheless in the process of registering the house as a rental property.
“You have a father who is dealing with the twin emotions of his youngest daughter getting married and then stepping up to fill the leadership void in the city,” Davis said. “It makes for a dynamic, during large-scale life changes, that there are some steps that may be missed.”
Young, a Democrat, is in a crowded field for the April 28 primary for mayor. Other candidates include City Council President Brandon Scott, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and state Sen. Mary Washington.
Questions about Young’s residency have dogged him since 2010, when WBAL-TV investigated where Young lived while he was serving as City Council president. Exasperated by these questions, Young led reporters on a tour of the two homes. At the Central Avenue address, Young asked reporters, “Do you want to see my underwear? Do you want to see my damn underwear?” and pulled a handful of briefs and boxers from a drawer.
Several other local politicians have faced similar issues concerning the collection of homestead tax credits. In reaction to a 2011 Baltimore Sun investigation into improperly collected homestead tax credits, several prominent Marylanders paid them back.
For instance, former Baltimore Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway Sr. paid back more than $3,600 in credits for property taxes on a rental home he owns, after it emerged that he’d wrongly been receiving a homestead tax break on the house for years.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her then-husband, Kent, collected homestead tax credits on two separate properties before she became mayor of Baltimore, in violation of a state rule that prohibits married couples from claiming the break on more than one residence. Kent Blake received homestead tax credits on his Columbia property for seven years, from 2003 through 2009, according to Howard County Finance Department records. The breaks totaled $4,437. A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake at the time said Kent Blake repaid the money “voluntarily” and “without any prompting.”