Schneider improperly received 2 homeowner exemptions but has rectified error, officials say

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider improperly received homeowner exemptions on two properties at the same time for one year, but he recently paid the balance of what he should have been billed, Lake County officials said Monday.

Schneider, a Democrat serving the 10th District, visited the Lake County treasurer's office Friday and settled a $510.25 debt that resulted from the recalculation of the 2021 tax bill for property he owns in Highland Park, Treasurer Holly Kim said Monday. County records acquired by the Daily Herald confirmed the payment.

Schneider, who is running for reelection this year, has said he's in the process of moving to that Highland Park property from Deerfield. A statement issued by his campaign called the situation "an inadvertent error."

Schneider immediately took action to correct the mistake after learning of it, the campaign said, "including paying the full amount of any mistaken benefit, interest, and penalties."

Lake Forest Republican Joe Severino, who's challenging Schneider for the 10th District seat, accused the congressman of "purposefully deceiving the county" by taking the erroneous exemption.

"It's outrageous," Severino said. Making good on the debt doesn't change that, he added.

Schneider and his family have lived in Deerfield for many years. Schneider has said he and his wife, Julie Dann, sold their Deerfield house this past January.

Neither the county assessor's office nor the recorder of deed's office have record of a sale for that property, and Schneider and Dann are listed as its owners. However, delays of up to 60 days after a sale are possible, said Robert Glueckert, Lake County's chief assessment officer.

A homestead exemption - a tax discount for people primarily living in homes they own - has existed for the Deerfield property since 2002, Glueckert said.

Schneider and Dann purchased the Highland Park property in 2019, intending to raze a house there and build a new one. The new house was granted a conditional occupancy certificate by Highland Park earlier this month.

Schneider and Dann received a homestead exemption on both properties for the 2020 tax year when they paid the bills in 2021, Glueckert said. Legally, people can claim a homestead exemption on only one property at a time.

In an email sent last week to Glueckert, a lawyer for Schneider explained the incorrect homestead exemption was created when Schneider and Dann bought the Highland Park house.

A form that was submitted to the title company by the seller's attorney "erroneously indicated that the Highland Park home would be Congressman Schneider and Ms. Dann's primary residence beginning in 2019," lawyer Tyler J. Hagenbuch wrote.

Schneider learned of the error last week and promptly called Glueckert's office to discuss how to rectify it, Hagenbuch wrote.

Additionally, Schneider requested the property's homestead status be removed for the 2020 and 2021 tax years, Hagenbuch wrote.

"Congressman Schneider takes full responsibility for remedying the error and repaying any financial benefit realized," Hagenbuch said.

Schneider's home already has been a campaign issue.

Lake Forest residents Alan R. Palmer and Laura La Barbera last week filed a formal objection to his candidacy, saying he didn't live at the Highland Park address even though it's listed on petition sheets and a statement of candidacy. They want the documents ruled invalid and for Schneider to be kicked off the June 28 primary ballot.

Schneider has insisted the right address was on the paperwork. His campaign has pointed to previous cases in which the intent of a candidate to have a permanent home in a city and the abandonment of a previous home were critical factors for determining residency.

The elections board will meet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Chicago and Springfield to assign this and other petition objections to hearing officers.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

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