Thanks to an open records request filed by the Chicago Tribune, we now know that Todd Ricketts, finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, has been getting a substantial tax break that he doesn’t deserve thanks to false documents filed by his attorney.
Ricketts owns a 5,000-square foot home in an affluent Chicago suburb, which he built in 2010. The size of the home should dictate how much property tax Ricketts pays every year, but he’s been paying the taxes that were assessed on the property’s previous home, which was much smaller and therefore carries a more modest tax bill. How did this happen? The Tribune reports that Ricketts’s new home could have escaped the attention assessor’s office through simple bureaucratic error, but it also appears that Ricketts, or his attorney, went out of his way to conceal the new home from the eyes of the tax man. From the story:
In 2013, Ricketts’ attorney had a chance to tell Cook County tax officials about the new home during a property tax appeal but instead sought a reduction based on the age and size of the old house, according to documents the Tribune obtained through an open-records request. The paperwork included a photo of the century-old home that had been demolished.
In a statement to the Tribune, a spokesman attempted to shift all the blame onto Ricketts’s attorney:
“When Mr. Ricketts purchased property in Wilmette more than 10 years ago, he filed all necessary paperwork to build a new home,” the statement reads. “Later, he retained a real estate attorney to assist with issues regarding his real estate taxes and assumed everyone involved had the correct information. If a mistake was made, he will work in good faith to fix it.”
If that’s true, and this is the sort of tax-dodging ultra-rich people get away with without even really noticing it’s happening, just imagine what they manage to accomplish when they actually apply themselves.