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Baltimore mayor addresses tax credit mistake: ‘It’s being changed and I’m done with it’

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young is addressing questions over where he lives, after his administration acknowledged he'll pay back a tax credit of about $1,000 on an East Baltimore rowhouse. The mayor says he now lives full time at this Central Avenue home.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young is addressing questions over where he lives, after his administration acknowledged he'll pay back a tax credit of about $1,000 on an East Baltimore rowhouse. The mayor says he now lives full time at this Central Avenue home. (Talia Richman / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young addressed mounting questions Tuesday over where he lives, after his administration acknowledged he will pay back a homestead tax credit of about $1,100 that he collected on an East Baltimore rowhouse.

Young owns both a condo on Central Avenue worth $62,600 and the house five blocks away on Madison Street worth $70,000. He’s claimed for years on state and city forms that the Madison Street house was his principal residence, even as he split time between the two homes.

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Shortly after becoming mayor this spring, Young said, he moved full time to the Central Avenue condo. His youngest daughter had recently gotten married and asked her father if she could move into the Madison Street rowhouse, where she was raised. She and her husband live there now, a few blocks away from Young and his wife.

“That’s what any father would do,” Young said Tuesday, “helping their daughter.”

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But he said that between his daughter’s marriage in December and his unexpected ascent to mayor in the spring, he did not change the real estate forms to say his new primary residence was the Central Avenue home. He continued to collect the benefit instead at the Madison Street house, tax records show. He now says he will return it.

“It wasn’t like I was getting two” tax credits, Young said. “The paperwork is in now to get all that changed and straightened out.”

There have been questions raised about his residency since 2010, when WBAL-TV investigated where Young lived while City Council president. Exasperated by the queries, Young led reporters on a tour of the two homes, even showing them a drawer full of his underwear to prove his residency. He told reporters at the time that he spent the majority of his time on Central Avenue, but kept the Madison Street home primarily to host out-of-town visitors and slept there once or twice a month.

Young said Tuesday said he will pay back the tax credit for this year, but not for prior years, because he only recently switched to living full time on Central Avenue.

“I was living in both of my homes,” he said. “I have an ability as a homeowner to live in both of my homes.”

Asked why he would not pay back the credit for previous years — if he acknowledged in 2010 spending most of his time on Central Avenue — his spokesman said Young may have misspoken. “It’s a decade ago,” spokesman Lester Davis said.

“For any calendar year, the majority of his time was at Madison,” Davis said.

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.

Other local politicians faced similar issues in the past regarding their collection of homestead tax credits. Several prominent Marylanders paid them back after a 2011 Baltimore Sun investigation into improperly collected credits.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

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