Democrats say Havenstein in ‘uncomfortable situation’

CONCORD – State Democratic Party officials continued to question GOP candidate for governor’s eligibility to run for the office Friday, citing questions about a potential conflict between his tax history in Maryland and his residency in the Granite State and charging he is an “uncomfortable situation.”

Havenstein has acknowledged saving $5,354 from 2008 to 2011 by getting a homestead exemption from local property taxes in Maryland. He also paid a lower state property transfer tax while buying the property in that state.

Havenstein got those breaks by claiming that his $1 million condominium was his “principal residence” where he was living at least seven months of the year.

Havenstein said he never relinquished New Hampshire as his domicile and noted that during the years he spent his work weeks in Maryland, he regularly voted in New Hampshire primary and general elections.

The state constitution requires candidates for Governor to “have been an inhabitant of this state for seven years next preceding.”

“Since 2007, Maryland law has required homeowners to sign a form under penalty of perjury attesting that the homestead property is owner’s principal. That form specifically asked if the property was your principal residence, was it where you filed your income taxes, where you had your drivers license, and where you voted from,” said former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan. “By taking that homestead exemption, Havenstein gave up any claim to New Hampshire residency during those years, raising serious doubts about his eligibility to run for governor of New Hampshire.”

“There are serious questions surrounding Maryland multimillionaire Walt Havenstein’s candidacy. Either he is ineligible to run in New Hampshire, or he likely committed tax fraud in Maryland,” said New Hampshire State Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “While we don’t know much about Walt Havenstein or what he stands for, this much is clear: he is the hand-picked D.C. candidate for governor who has already demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the priorities of Granite Staters. Walt Havenstein clearly thinks the rules that apply to the rest of us don’t apply to him, and he can’t be trusted to fight for the priorities that matter to hard-working Granite State families.”

A Havenstein adviser has said that under Maryland law, anyone who is in the state for more than 183 days a year is considered a statutory resident for income tax purposes.

There was no immediate response from the Havenstein campaign to the latest charges by the Democratic officials.

“What Havenstein isn’t telling you, is that in Maryland, statutory residency is an income tax category for the purposes of paying Maryland income taxes, not the homestead exemption. Homestead is a property tax category, governed by the Maryland laws on homestead and property taxes,” Sullivan said. “Being a statutory resident for income tax purposes doesn’t make you eligible for the homestead property tax credit that Havenstein took. Only those domiciled in Maryland can take that break. Homestead equals domicile and domicile equals homestead.”

“Given these facts, Havenstein is left with a very uncomfortable situation – either he was domiciled in Maryland as recently as 2011 and therefore ineligible to run for Governor of New Hampshire or he misled Maryland tax officials to get a tax break he wasn’t entitled to,” Sullivan said.

Author: John DiStaso

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