Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Former Hammond mayor owes nearly $120,000 on taxes

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CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A former northwest Indiana mayor with one of the most expensive homes in Crown Point also has one of the city’s biggest back tax bills.

Former Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Sr. is behind by nearly $120,000 in property taxes. His $1.6 million home in one of Crown Point’s most affluent neighborhoods has annual tax bills around $32,000 each year.

A court order spared the home from auction when a judge pulled the house from the list of properties for sale in July because McDermott said he had filed an appeal.

McDermott says he filed an appeal of the 2006 assessment of his 12,000-square-foot home two years ago, but Center Township records and the Lake County assessor’s office show no appeals pending. Another document related to the case recently surfaced, but has no stamps indicating it was received by Center Township or the assessor’s office.

McDermott, the father of current Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., said he’s been overpaying his taxes for years.

However, he has been behind on his bill almost since he bought the home for $1.3 million in 2002. In the last two years he has paid less than $10,000 — $6,000 the judge ordered him to pay to avoid the tax sale, and about $3,000 from a refund. Since 2006, McDermott has paid about $18,000 in taxes. Nearly half that came from an $8,900 refund.

The $118,850 he owed is the largest delinquent bill for any Lake County home. Out of the top 21 largest back tax bills, only two houses managed to avoid auction. McDermott’s neighbor, who has a pending tax appeal and owes about half as much as McDermott, was the other homeowner spared.

McDermott’s house was assessed in 2006 at $1.18 million. The figure rose to $1.39 million in 2007, and dropped again to $1.32 million in 2008 without any appeals being filed, according to county records.

The Internal Revenue Service also has placed liens against the house for unpaid income taxes totaling more than $1.5 million. McDermott says he has an agreement with the IRS to pay off those taxes.

McDermott’s tax consultant, Ed Krusa, said that in 2006, the house likely was worth closer to $1 million, on par with other properties in Morningside.

McDermott said he will pay whatever the Property Tax Board of Appeals says he must to avoid a spring tax sale.

“I have to take the blame for the carelessness,” he said. “If my tax bill was $22,000, that wouldn’t bother me. It’s a pretty house. All I want is to be treated fairly.”



Posted 1/18/2010




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