LITTLE ROCK — Secretary of State Mark Martin on Monday paid Benton County $2,100 for improperly taking a homestead tax credit on two houses at the same time.
The Blue Hog Report blog reported Friday that at least since 2008, Martin has taken homestead tax credits each year for homes in both Benton and Washington counties. Arkansas law allows a homeowner to claim only one $350 homestead property tax credit per year.
Martin repaid $1,050 to Benton County for the credits he claimed there for the past three years, plus an equal amount in penalties. The statute of limitations for improperly claimed property tax credits is three years.
“At the first opportunity this morning we arrived at the Benton County assessor’s office to make all the necessary corrections,” Martin said in a statement Monday afternoon. “We made an extraordinary effort to make this happen even though the assessor was not prepared to deal with these issues this quickly. We are now currently in full compliance with the tax requirements.
“Additionally, my wife and I believe that as Christians, while not legally required, we should make arrangements to pay anything that we owe so that we might be above reproach. Those arrangements will be made as the assessor’s schedule permits,” he said.
State Democratic Party chairman Vincent Insalaco said in a statement Monday morning that Martin “should take responsibility for cheating on his taxes, pay back the state and apologize to Arkansas taxpayers.”
Democrat Susan Inman, who is challenging Martin’s bid for a second term, said in a statement Monday morning, “Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not out of character for Mark Martin. He has a record of mismanaging the office of Secretary of State — mixing politics with state business and illegally hiring outside lawyers. Mark Martin should repay taxpayers and apologize for the mistakes on his taxes.”
Martin drew criticism earlier this year for having an office spokesman, Alex Reed, who was simultaneously serving as campaign treasurer for a Republican political candidate and as a member of the Pulaski County Election Commission. Reed has left all three positions.
Last year, a Pulaski County circuit judge ordered Martin to cease using outside counsel to represent him in a lawsuit brought by Blue Hog Report blogger Matt Campbell. Arkansas law allows the secretary of state to hire outside counsel only if the attorney general’s office cannot or will not represent him, Judge Tim Fox ruled.
A call to Martin’s office seeking comment on the statements by Insalaco and Inman was not immediately returned Monday.
Martin is not the only Arkansas political candidate who has run afoul of the limit on homestead tax credits this year. Last month, Republican candidate for governor Asa Hutchinson gave Pulaski County $1,750 for improperly taking homestead tax credits there while also taking credits for a home in Benton County.
The county accepted Hutchinson’s money as a gift because the statute of limitations has expired.