Politics & Finances

U.S. Congressman "Defied Property Tax Law" For Nearly a Decade

U.S. Congressman "Defied Property Tax Law" For Nearly a Decade

U.S. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas has "defied property tax law" for nearly a decade by claiming two homestead exemptions.

54-year-old Democrat Gonzalez represents Texas's 15th District in the United States House of Representatives. He was first elected in 2017. 

Now, it has come to light that the politician and his wife claimed two homestead exemptions for eight years from 2014 to 2021, a practice that is not allowable by Texas law. 

The Texas Tribune shared details:

...[the couple] ran afoul of property tax law for at least eight years as each claimed homestead exemptions on properties they separately owned.

They fixed the issue last year, when his wife, Lorena Saenz Gonzalez, removed the homestead exemption on her property. But from 2014 to 2021, Hidalgo County records show that Vicente Gonzalez was claiming a homestead exemption on a property in McAllen valued this year at $527,054, while his wife was also claiming one on another property in the city valued this year at $287,131. That saved them at least $2,300 in property taxes on the second property, according to a Texas Tribune analysis.

Gonzalez, who hails from Corpus Christi and is a lawyer by trade, should be keenly aware of the legalities that surround claiming the homestead exemption in his state. 

Texas requires that married couples generally claim only one homestead exemption for their "principal residence."

In a statement, Representative Gonzalez said that the property had belonged to his wife before their 2008 marriage and was simply forgotten about until last year. He expressed, ”It was a simple oversight that was voluntarily corrected as soon as she found out."

The Tribune reached out to Gonzalez's camp for comment, and were informed that he and his wife intend to pay any back taxes on the property. 

As far as recent work in Washington DC, Gonzalez voted along party lines in favor of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

And, just yesterday, the Congressman announced an education initiative with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). A press release notes:

...local high schools will be receiving $3,124,800 from the U.S. Department of Education for the Upward Bound Math and Science Program.

“As our kids head back into the classroom to start a new school year, I could not be prouder to announce this much needed funding,” stated Congressman Gonzalez. “This grant will allow South Texas students to attain the skills that will equip them to be successful outside the classroom. Thank you to UTRGV and Secretary Cardona for supporting our students and preparing the next generation of South Texas leaders.”

What do you think about the Gonzalezes not paying property taxes for eight years?

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