Washington (CNN) – In Washington, Republican Rep. Todd Young helps write the nation’s tax laws, but back home in Indiana he violated state tax law, claiming a property tax deduction for a house he didn’t live in.
In 2012, Young, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, claimed a house in Bloomington was his primary residence and deducted more than $200,000 from his property taxes - saving himself almost $5,000. Turns out, Young was renting the property, not living in it, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Last month, the county auditor notified the second-term congressman that he owed about $5,300 in back taxes and penalties, which Young paid April 14, records show.
It’s not the first time Young has had tax problems. CNN reported last month that Young paid $1,500 in penalties for late payments for his property taxes between 2007 and 2011. In both cases, Young took responsibility.
“I accept full responsibility for these embarrassing oversights and have paid all the taxes and fees I owed. I regret the errors and offer no excuses,” Young said in a statement to CNN.
His spokesman said Young had been eligible for the so-called homestead deduction in prior years, but did not stop claiming it when he moved out in late 2011.
Monroe County Treasurer Catherine Smith said that when Young was in her office in 2012 (paying $4,000 for 2011’s back taxes), she gave him the opportunity to update his records and remove the homestead deduction from the property, but he didn’t.
“It’s homestead fraud. He knew the state law,” the Democratic treasurer said. “A man that makes (a salary) from tax money should be held accountable for his own taxes.”
Smith was already frustrated that the check Young used to pay the $4,000 in back taxes bounced, leading the treasurer to complain that Young’s problems have “created serious complications for our office.”
Monroe County Auditor Steve Saulter said Young just made a mistake when he filed for a homestead deduction he did not qualify for.
“In 99% of the cases we deal with, it simply slips people’s minds. It’s ‘whoops’ or ‘I don’t understand the law,’” the auditor said. “They are not willingly making improper deductions.”
Saulter said the county auditor’s office does not use the term “fraud” even when there is proof the improper deductions were taken intentionally.
CNN first reached out to Saulter regarding Young's taxes in early April.
A county employee said Saulter then notified Young that CNN was investigating his personal taxes and intentionally delayed responding to CNN’s questions.
Saulter responded to CNN earlier this week, three weeks after Young paid the taxes and penalties owed. Saulter said he told Young about CNN’s investigation but disputed the claim that he slow walked a response.
“I simply forgot because we have 50 million things going on. It was one of the smoother cases,” said Saulter, referring to how quickly Young paid up.
Update 5/13/2014: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Monroe County Auditor Steve Saulter was a Republican.