An attorney for Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider says he wants to correct the erroneous homestead property tax exemption that had been granted to his unbuilt Highland Park home.
Earlier this week, Patch reported that Lake County records showed homestead exemptions — reductions in the taxable value of owner-occupied homes — had been claimed for homes owned by Schneider and his wife, Julie Dann, in both Deerfield and Highland Park.
Schneider’s lawyer, Tyler Hagenbuch, said to it appeared the undeserved tax break could be traced back to a form submitted to the title company when Schneider and Dann purchased the house in November 2019 that “erroneously indicated” that their Highland Park home would be their primary residence starting in 2019.
“While it appears this error originated when the seller’s attorney completed the transfer tax declaration form and submitted it to the title company, Congressman Schneider takes full responsibility for remedying the error and repaying any financial benefit received,” Hagenbuch said in a letter to Lake County Chief Assessor Robert Glueckert.
Mitch Greenberg, Schneider’s campaign finance director, provided a copy of the letter and a statement on behalf of the campaign. Greenberg said the 10th District representative had been unaware of the error before Highland Park Patch requested comment about it on Wednesday.
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“This week Congressman Schneider was made aware of an inadvertent error in his general homestead exemption filing,” Greenberg said. “Upon learning of this error, he immediately took action to correct it, including paying the full amount of any mistakenly benefit, interest, and penalties.”
Hagenbuch said Schneider called the assessor’s office Wednesday to discuss how he could correct the error. On Thursday, according to the attorney, assessor’s office staff said homestead status had been removed from the Highland Park property for 2020 and 2021.
“Accordingly, tax year 2019 (which has been assessed, billed, and paid) is the only year in which Congressman Schneider has already received a financial benefit under the general homestead exemption,” Hagenbuch said.
The congressman’s counsel said Schneider had filled out a form saying he did not want to claim the Highland Park home as his primary residence in 2019 and that he wanted to repay the amount of tax saving from the exemption that year.
“Congressman Schneider looks forward to hearing from your office to learn the amount he should pay for mistakenly benefiting from the general homestead exemption for 2019,” Hagenbuch told Glueckert. “Upon receiving notice from your office, Congressman Schneider and Ms. Dann will immediately submit payment for the full amount of the benefit, along with any interest and/or penalty that you indicate is owed.”
Glueckert, the chief assessor, confirmed via email that Schneider had contacted his office about the homestead exemption.
“We have advised him of what would need to be done to rectify the situation for the 2020 tax year, noting that he was not responsible for the 2019 year because that was the prior owners exemption,” Glueckert told Patch. “We were able to remove the exemption for the tax year 2021, bill payable in 2022 as the billing on this has not been generated.”
Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, whose office is responsible for recalculating bills, said payment information will be reflected online Saturday.
The revelation of the erroneous property tax exemption came the same day as a report from online news outlet Insider that Schneider violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, also known as the STOCK Act, by missing a 45-day deadline to disclose personal stock trades worth between $50,000 and $100,000.
“Representative Schneider inadvertently did not hit the ‘submit’ button when entering a stock transaction in December,” Maggie Harden, press assistant for Schneider’s congressional office, explained in a statement to the online news outlet. “He discovered the error last week and immediately submitted the data and paid the associated late fee. The mistake has now been fully resolved.”
Separately, Schneider is facing an objection before the Illinois State Board of Elections next week after two Lake Forest residents say he falsely claimed to live at the Highland Park home on his March 4 statement of candidacy and nominating petitions filed March 7. A conditional certificate of occupancy for his Highland Park home was issued March 18.