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Corruption Chronicles

Congressman Gets Illegal Tax Break

A ranking member of the U.S. House of Representative’s tax-writing committee claims a Maryland home—located thousands of miles from the California district he represents—as his principal residence to get an illegal tax break.

Democrat Pete Stark, who has represented northern California in the House since 1973, lies about here he lives to qualify for an annual $3,853 tax break on a home he and his wife own in Harwood Maryland.  

Valued at $1.7 million, the 3,600-square-foot waterfront home sits on 6.35 acres and is located about 30 miles east of the U.S. Capitol. To qualify for the state and county homestead tax credit, Maryland homeowners must live in the house at least six months a year and use the address for the legal purpose of voting, obtaining a driver’s license and filing income tax returns.  

Stark and his wife are registered to vote in the northern California district he represents and both have California driver’s licenses, according to the national news agency that broke the story this week. Easily reelected in November, Stark is considered the dean of the state’s congressional delegation and he is a senior member of the House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.  

The influential lawmaker is hardly the only politician who has lied to claim this kind of residential tax credit. Last week Eliot Engel, a Democrat congressman from New York, got busted for declaring a Maryland home in Montgomery County as his official residence. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle illegally claimed a homestead tax break on a $1.9 million Washington residence even though he officially lived in South Dakota. The accomplished tax cheat was forced to withdraw as Health Secretary nominee last month because he had failed to pay $140,000 in taxes on the millions he raked in as a health industry “consultant” after getting voted out of office in 2004.  


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