After winning the Republican nomination for the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts left by now Secretary of State John Kerry, Gabriel Gomez seemed to be the “perfect storm” candidate for the Republicans. However, Gomez’s campaign may be in trouble after he claimed a $281,500 income tax deduction in 2005.
The tax deduction, called a “scam” by the IRS, stems from Gomez’s promise not to alter the facade of his 112-year-old Cohasset home, which is considered to be a historical landmark. Vague federal law does call this a charitable contribution in order to protect historic homes, but the IRS and other experts claim that this “contribution” (or lack thereof) is not worth any monetary value. The reasoning is that any changes to the home would decrease the value of the historic property, and not changing it has come at no cost to Gomez, which has made the $281,500 tax deduction otherwise moot.
The Gomez family offered the promise to the National Architectural Trust, which is a controversial Washington-based organization that attempts to market tax-deductable "easements" to homeowners. The organization has been targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice for its questionable work through tax loopholes or vague law.
The IRS, however, made it clear five weeks after Gomez filed the deduction that the “contribution of a historic façade easement to a tax-exempt conservation organization” is one of its “Dirty Dozen tax scams.”
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“In many cases, local historic preservation laws already prohibit alteration of the home’s facade, making the contributed easement superfluous,” the IRS wrote in an annual report of questionably legal tax practices. “Even if the facade could be altered, the deduction claimed for the easement contribution may far exceed the easement’s impact on the value of the property.”
Gomez has not spoken to the press about this issue, but his campaign spokesman Will Ritter cited that the IRS has unsuccessfully attempted to overturn easement donation cases in the past.