D.C. Officials Still Working on Blunt’s Tax Status

Posted May 16, 2009 at 8:08am

The District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue is continuing to review the tax status of Rep. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) home in Washington, D.C., nearly six weeks after a discrepancy was first discovered.

The Missouri lawmaker and his wife, Abigail Perlman Blunt, own a three-bedroom Georgetown home, valued at $1.62 million according to public records.

As first reported by the Kansas City Star, the Blunts’ home is currently receiving a homestead tax deduction, a benefit intended for full-time city residents that can shave hundreds of dollars off annual tax bills, and significantly more in the long term by limiting assessment increases.

A spokeswoman for the D.C. tax office said Friday the home’s status continues to be reviewed.

In response to an earlier inquiry about the review, spokeswoman Natalie Wilson said: “Due to the complexity of the case, we are reviewing all documents and filings before a decision is made.—

Blunt’s office has characterized the tax status as an error on the part of District officials.

“The Blunts never requested this exemption and asked the D.C. government to correct the error,— said spokesman Nick Simpson. “When they discovered this credit was still being applied to their home, they again asked for its correction. Their request has been re-sent as recent as last week.—

In the meantime, D.C. tax assessment records indicate the home continues to receive the benefit, and is taxed at $1.55 million, slightly below its full assessment value.

Under the District’s homestead program, a taxpayer who owns a home in the city and uses it as the principal residence receives a reduction of $67,500 on its assessed value, or a savings of $573.75 off the 2009 tax bill.

In addition, properties that qualify for the homestead deduction are protected from considerable jumps in assessed value. The District caps those increases at 10 percent above the previous year’s tax assessment. Individuals who do not qualify for the homestead program are taxed on the full value of the home.

A Roll Call review of city property assessments earlier this year uncovered a handful of Members who had been erroneously granted the tax break, which District tax officials blamed on a clerical error by the city.

District officials have billed those individuals for back taxes, but said interest and penalties would not be charged. Blunt’s office has said the lawmaker did not request the tax benefit.

According to a letter written by D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D) and provided by Blunt’s office in April, the Missouri lawmaker and his wife sought the removal of the home’s homestead status as early as 2004, when Abigail Blunt became a Missouri resident. The Blunts married in 2003.

Tax records dated March 23 also show the Georgetown home was not receiving the homestead benefit in the prior tax year. Those records were provided by Blunt’s office in April and are not publicly available because the District’s online tax records update at the start of the tax year, April 1. The city’s public database shows only the current tax status, which on Friday indicated the home continued to receive the benefit.

Under D.C. property tax laws, spouses of Members are eligible to claim the homestead deduction, even if the property is co-owned by the lawmaker. Under District rules, a spouse claiming the deduction must be registered to vote in the District to qualify for the tax benefit.

But a Blunt spokesman has previously noted the Missourian did not seek to take advantage of that loophole.

Although the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics lists an Abigail Perlman as a registered voter at the Georgetown address, she last voted in the District in November 2002. The Greene County (Mo.) county clerk’s office registered Abigail Blunt as a voter in February 2006, and both she and Roy Blunt are listed at the Springfield, Mo., condominium that county real estate records indicate they purchased in August 2005.