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California congressional candidate to repay Montgomery County tax credit for mistaken principal residence claim

Choosing between California and Maryland for his primary residence seems to have been a bit confusing for a congressional candidate.

TJ Cox, a Democrat, is running in a close race in California. He claimed two houses — one, a roughly $1 million home in Bethesda, Md., and another in Fresno, Calif. — as his primary residence, according to an article in the Fresno Bee.

Federal tax laws don’t allow a person to claim more than one.

His staff said that it was an “honest mistake” and that he’ll repay $692 he received from Montgomery County in a tax credit. At first, Cox’s staff had said it was the fault of tax collectors in Maryland.

In California, Cox is running against Rep. David Valadao (R) for the state’s 21st Congressional District seat.

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Cox’s staff did not immediately return a phone call or email from The Washington Post seeking comment.

Montgomery County tax records show Cox owns a $968,100 house on Silverwood Lane in Bethesda, just off Macarthur Boulevard. The Fresno Bee reported that he claimed it as his primary residence in 2016, 2017 and 2018. And he did the same for his home in Fresno.

At first, a Cox spokesman told the newspaper that the residency mistake was the fault of Maryland tax collectors. But the explanation changed after staff members were shown a notarized public document that Cox had signed and initialed stating that Maryland was his primary residence.

One spokesman told the Bee that it was “an honest mistake that he filled out the principal residence not knowing the legal definitions. His family was living there.”

According to Cox’s staff, the Bethesda home was bought for his wife and four children while she studied at Johns Hopkins University and he worked in Fresno.

The Fresno Bee said state property records show that the Bethesda house is no longer named as his principal residence.