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Conaway, Mosby and the Homestead Tax

September 9, 2011
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In the past couple of days, Nick Mosby, who is challenging 7th District City Councilmember Belinda Conaway, has sent out several lurid mailings pointing out Conaway’s issues with the homestead property tax break she and her husband are apparently still receiving on their Randallstown home.

One of the mailings features hands gripping prison bars. Another has the IRS logo on it–though the tax break in question is strictly a state matter.

Team Conaway is not amused, and it fired back with a claim that Mosby has been hypocritically sopping up his own improper tax credit since his mother died last year.

Turns out Mosby is the executor of his mother’s estate and, since she is no longer with us, she is not entitled to the tax break. Or so goes the story.

But that’s not the way the State Department of Assessments and Taxation sees it. I called around and eventually connected with a Ms. Evans, the agreed-upon authority in such matters, who said that, per law and practice, the homestead exemption stands until the house comes out of probate.

“As long as the will is in probate it stays as a primary residence,” she says. “At some point that [probate] attorney can notify us and take the credit off if they don’t think the credit should be on there.”

Which would seem to settle the matter, except no. Mosby filed only a small estate on the place, then closed it. That’s a no-no, says Frank Conaway, clerk of the Circuit Court and mayoral candidate (who has, incidentally, pledged to correct his own improperly-taken homestead tax credits, and who also just happens to be Belinda Conaway’s father).

“I know they opened a small estate—you cant do that when the estate is more than $30,000, and the house is worth $130,000,” Conaway says. “He’s the personal representative. He has control. He calls the shots on whatever happens with that house. My question is why was it done this way? What is the reason that it was handled this way?”

Mosby, whom City Paper endorsed over Belinda Conaway in the coming primary, says this is all a “non-story.” His late mother’s house on the 1800 block of Hillenwood Road does not have a formal estate set up yet, he says.

So who owns it then?

“I’m telling you no one owns the property,” Mosbysays.

It seems there’s no particular legal deadline for settling the estate, either—at least according to Conaway.

Talk about his mother, who he is still mourning, riles Mosby. “They haven’t been campaigning, they haven’t been knocking on doors,” he says of Belinda Conaway and her campaign. “They probably ran a small poll, and they realize they’re losing. They’ve been fat off their name . . . And now they’re losing, so they’re trying to destroy my reputation.”

And vice versa, it seems. Pass the popcorn.

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