Baltimore interim mayor already in trouble with the IRS

After the sudden collapse of the last scandal-plagued mayor, I would imagine that the last headline the people of Baltimore wanted to see was one involving the new, interim mayor having to make “corrections” to his taxes at the behest of the IRS. And yet that’s what’s happened to Bernard C. “Jack” Young. He’ll only be in office until after the next election has he’s already promised not to run for a full term of his own. But for what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like this particular tax problem is nearly as bad as the ones his predecessor was caught up in. (Baltimore Sun)

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…

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 changed residences.

Collecting the $1,000 tax credit on a home you don’t live in is certainly a violation of the tax laws, but in this case, it really does sound like it might have been an honest mistake and something that didn’t line Jack Young’s pockets. Young and his wife moved out of their house and into a condo that they own so that their daughter and her new husband could live in the main house until they found a place of their own.

Perhaps out of habit, he once again took the credit on the main house this year. But he didn’t claim the credit on the condo, so it basically came out as a wash. If he’d been caught taking the credit on both of them he’d be in more serious trouble, but since it didn’t improve his bottom line, this really looks more like an accounting error more than anything else.

And that’s a good thing. If no more irregularities show up in Young’s taxes, Baltimore’s residents can hopefully breathe a sigh of relief and go about their business. After all, they’ve been through a series of three mayors that should have left them with a bad taste in their mouths. Shelia Dixon exited the office in 2010 after being convicted of embezzlement. Her replacement, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, managed to avoid being charged with anything but declined to run again after her botched handling of the Freddie Gray riots where parts of her city were burned to the ground.

That brings us to the woman Young replaced, Catherine Push. She’s currently awaiting sentencing on multiple charges of tax evasion and hundreds of thousands of dollars in self-dealing scandals involving her children’s books. Sadly, Baltimore hasn’t had a mayor who finished full terms and left without being under a cloud of scandal since Martin O’Malley in 2007.

With all of that recent history in mind, the last thing Jack Young needs is a story on the evening news about his taxes being out of order. But as I said above, if the details we have thus far turn out to be the extent of the story, it’s probably not going to be a major scandal.