Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mark Martin's excuse for tax cheating needs a fact-check

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 6:26 AM

NO FAIR: Secretary of State Mark Martin complains that reporting on his tax cheating is the 'politics of personal destruction.' If so, he provided the weapons.
  • NO FAIR: Secretary of State Mark Martin complains that reporting on his tax cheating is the 'politics of personal destruction.' If so, he provided the weapons.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Bill Bowden got a comment from Secretary of State Mark Martin on Blue Hog Report's discovery that Martin has been cheating on property taxes for years, at least since 2008, by claiming a homestead tax exemption worth $350 a year on two homes. The law limits you to a single exemption for a principal residence.

If Martin has improperly taken a double dip since he bought the two homes in 2003, he's gotten away with more than $3,000 in tax cheating and the penalty — assessable for only up to three years — would cost him another $1050.

Martin in e-mail comments to the Democrat-Gazette:

* Blamed the messenger, a long-time political foe.

* Excused his tax cheating as a simple error that could happen to anyone in the mortgage certification process.

Blaming the messenger is a tried and true tactic by dishonest political cowards.

Of more interest is the specific paperwork excuse. 

"The blog post was the first I had heard of the matter, so we're still looking into it," Martin said late Friday. "Apparently, this checkoff is integrated into the mortgage loan process, and thousands of innocent Arkansan citizens are unwittingly involved. This is more proof of the complexity of the tax code and the need for it to be simplified."

We learned previously in the case of Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson, who attempted to put down his years of tax cheating to an honest mistake, that the paperwork told a different story.

In Hutchinson's case, the tax credits were NOT part of the mortgage process. Indeed, as documents showed, they were filled out by the taxpayer after being provided by the county assessor's office and Hutchinson signed those forms twice — independently — to certify that he was seeking a tax exemption for his principal residence. Tax documents were not signed at mortgage closing.

Somebody needs to get to the Washington and Benton County assessor's offices Monday and see the form Martin filled out to get a double-dip tax exemption for his two homes. Check the date. Was it really "integrated into the mortgage loan process" or did Martin, like Asa, affirmatively swear in a public document that he was seeking an exemption for a single primary residence? Asa Hutchinson's form from Benton County is shown below for guidance. He did sign affirmative statements on mortgages themselves that each was a primary residence. 

Here's is Martin's whine about being criticized for breaking the law.

"These so-called 'oppo' researchers are not concerned with moving Arkansas forward, but concerned with winning the soundbite for their partisan side," wrote Martin. "This type of politics of personal destruction is what is wrong with the political process today. Judge me for the performance of my office and our effective service to the people of Arkansas. I am proud of the hardworking people who work in my office."

No Republican in Arkansas ever did oppo research and used it against an opponent. Poor baby.

There is an honest and competent candidate for secretary of state, Susan Inman. She's also a pleasant person. And during times of problems in her previous job as election coordinator for Pulaski County, I don't ever recall her blaming any shortcomings on someone else.


THE EXEMPTION FORM: This is the document Asa Hutchinson had to sign in Benton County to get a homestead tax exemption. Did Mark Martin sign a similar form? When? Was it really "integrated" in the mortgage process and unknown to him, as he claims in defending his tax cheating?
  • THE EXEMPTION FORM: This is the document Asa Hutchinson had to sign in Benton County to get a homestead tax exemption. Did Mark Martin sign a similar form? When? Was it really "integrated" in the mortgage process and unknown to him, as he claims in defending his tax cheating?

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