Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) received a $3,200 primary-residence tax break in 2015 for a house he doesn’t live in, thanks to exemptions available for governors and federal employees.
Maryland homeowners are eligible for a credit to keep down the costs of rising assessments values, provided they live in the house at least six months out of the year. As governor, Hogan is required to live in Annapolis, the state capital. He moved out of his waterfront home in Edgewater, Md., and into the governor’s mansion when he took office in January 2015.
But the governor still subtracted a $3,200 homestead tax credit from his $12,800 property tax bill in 2016, Anne Arundel county tax records show.
The agency managing the homestead credit says this is legal because governors fall under an exemption to the residency requirement for people who can’t live in their house because of an “illness or need of special care.”
Governors move into Government House, across from the Capitol, so they can have easy access to a protective detail and other security measures, which the State Department of Assessments and Taxation considers a form of special care.
While the phrase “need of special care” is not defined in the law, the agency director says it could apply to people who leave their homes for care such as drug rehabilitation or assisted living for people with disabilities.
“I feel any governor would qualify under the special-care provision,” said Sean Powell, director of the Department of Assessments and Taxation. “This is based on the need for 24-hour protection detail and all the accessory security measures put in place for a governor.”
Powell said Martin O’Malley, Hogan’s Democratic predecessor, also claimed this credit before selling his Baltimore home during his first year in office. Hogan’s home is currently on the market, listed for $1.595 million.
The law also has an exemption for federal government employees stationed outside Maryland, including for military and diplomatic service. Private-sector employees who are stationed outside Maryland, however, cannot continue collecting the tax break on a house in which they do not live.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said the governor is in a unique position by virtue of a legal mandate to live in Annapolis, but would be open to expanding homestead tax credits for private citizens who move out of their homes temporarily for work.
“The governor is a well-known and long-standing proponent of tax relief, and this is certainly something we’ll take a look at it,” Mayer said.