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Yesterday’s Washington Post reported another shady housing deal involving Rep. Charles Rangel from Harlem New York. “Rangel received the ‘homestead exemption,’ a property tax break for people who live in a permanent, primary home in the city, that reduced the taxes he paid on a house on Colorado Avenue NW in the Crestwood neighborhood,” according to the story. Rangel and his wife purchased the home in 1971 and sold it in 2000. Rangel got the tax break from at least 1995 until 2000, saving $288 per year.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Rangel’s been in hot water for some housing choices. In July, Rangel angrily defended his four rent-stabilized apartments—-all in the same building, located at West 135th Street and Lenox Avenue—-against accusations that he’d received special treatment from the building owner. Three of Rangel’s units are adjacent. Another unit is used as a campaign office. According to a piece in the New York Times, Rangel has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million.
[He] paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for the four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem’s most prestigious address.
The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel’s building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.
A few months later, news reports also revealed that Rangel had failed to report rental income he earned from a villa in the Dominican Republic.
Is the latest story a big deal or not? Maybe this detail (from the Post article) will provide some perspective:
Rangel is not the first member of Congress to incorrectly receive the D.C. homestead exemption. In 2005, the District determined that a computer program had automatically awarded the exemption to 22 senators, several of whom said they were unaware they were receiving it.