Asa Hutchinson wasn’t the only political candidate nailed over the weekend by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for claiming homestead tax exemptions on two houses when state law limits taxpayers to one.
Jack Ladyman of Jonesboro, a Republican candidate for House against Democrat Ron Carroll, was reported to have claimed double credits for six years — with a home in Pulaski County all six years and homes in Washington and Craighhead counties for three years each.
Said a Democratic Party news release:
“It’s downright shameful that Jack Ladyman has cheated on his taxes for six years. While Ladyman was living in multiple houses around the state, he seemed to spend little time in the town in which he was elected Mayor,” said Craighead County Democratic Chair Benton Smith. “Jonesboro deserves honest representation in the state house and from his actions, it’s clear that Jonesboro residents can’t trust Jack Ladyman.
Ladyman has been asked to repay the credits and pay the statutory fine. That’s tougher treatment than Asa Hutchinson got for his illegal double dip in Pulaski County. He paid back three of four years of double dipping and was forgiven a fine, a decision that wouldn’t seem to be optional for the assessor to make.
PS — Joe Thompson of the Pulaski assessor’s office says today that he erred in forgiving a penalty for Hutchinson when he came in to report his double payments in 2012. He said this was because he thought Hutchinson had merely done what hundreds of others had done and been forgiven a penalty for — making a homestead exemption in Pulaski County and subsequently buying a house elsewhere and not reporting it. Thompson said he didn’t know until the Democrat-Gazette’s reporting that the house Hutchinson bought in Rogers in 2010 was a replacement homestead for a house he’d bought in Bella Vista in 2006. Had he know Hutchinson had a homestead before the Pulaski homestead, he would have collected the fine.
Now, he says, the statute of limitations likely stands in the way of collection of a fine except for his 2011 tax year payment. The statute tolls in three years. But even that may have run if you consider the starting point the March application for a homestead exemption in 2007 (automatically renewed) and not the October deadline for payment of property taxes.
Thompson said the old forms made it hard to disclose and track homestead exemptions. Now there’s a statewide system that can be checked that prevents double claims, he said. It took effect a year or so ago.