Fox News So Mad Tammy Duckworth Gets Veterans Tax Break, Like Some Kind Of Veteran!

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Fox News published an exposé Sunday on Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois that revealed she's paid no property taxes on her Chicago home since 2015.

Of course, Fox News made it seem as if Duckworth uses one of Donald Trump's tax accountants or something.

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We should never expect great journalism from Fox News, and technically, the story just links to a Chicago Sun-Times article from Friday with the headline, "You Pay More In Property Taxes Because 27,288 Cook County Homeowners Pay Nothing."

The Sun-Times piece opens with the line “No one likes to pay property taxes," which is a little cynical. Surely, someone somewhere looks at their tax bill, smiles, and says, “Man, I love funding public schools."

It's true that Duckworth doesn't pay property taxes, but it's not because she claims her own home as a business expense. No, she qualifies for this exemption because she's a veteran with a disability rating of 70 percent or higher, as determined by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.


You see, Tammy Duckworth has no legs. She lost them in the Iraq War, where she served as a US Army helicopter pilot. Iraqi insurgents shot down her helicopter in 2004 with a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both limbs in the attack, as well as some mobility in her right arm. She requested a medical waiver so she could continue to serve in the Illinois National Guard for another decade. Her injuries apparently weren't as severe as bone spurs.

We are trying to figure out, do the Sun-Times and Fox News want us to consider Duckworth a deadbeat or something?

Among the homeowners whose property taxes are entirely wiped off the books because they are disabled veterans are U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, former Ald. James Balcer and some veterans who are now Chicago police officers, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found.

James Balcer is a Vietnam veteran who earned three purple hearts and a bronze star for "carrying dead and wounded Marines up a 900-foot mountain for 18 hours under enemy fire." He still has shrapnel in his back and arm.

That they're paying nothing means the rest of the county's 1.8 million property taxpayers — the remaining homeowners and business owners — have to pick up the slack, a total of just under $102.8 million.

Oh no, those of us without shrapnel in our bodies and with full use of our legs have to “pick up the slack" for these freeloaders. We thought America loved its vets. That's apparently why Colin Kaepernick isn't allowed to play football.

Laurence Msall is president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago-area "tax watchdog group," and he's had all he can stand with these veterans living large off the largesse of those who never served.

"What we have done is to create all special sorts of categories — veterans, disabled people, senior citizens," says [Msall.] "And all of those exemptions administered by the county basically undermine the integrity of the property tax system.

"We grant people relief regardless of their income situation, and the rest of the community has to pay more," Msall says. "It's unfair. It's very hard to monitor. And it's hard to authenticate who's getting the value. Is it the needy people? Or is it a large giveaway?"

According to Msall's logic here, it would be OK if disabled veterans such as Duckworth weren't paying property taxes if they lived under a bridge and solicited donations with a tin cup.

Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey own a three-bedroom home in Hoffman Estates, Cook County, valued at about $250,000, which is roughly the going price of a tent in downtown Seattle. The couple paid $16,000 in taxes for their six-bedroom, 4,100 square foot house in McLean, Virgnia, which they bought for $1.3 million in 2017. They don't qualify for the state's veteran exemption because unlike Josh Hawley, Virginia's not their primary residence.

Neither Duckworth nor Balcer are destitute, but that shouldn't matter. They each sacrificed a great deal in service to their country. Duckworth's property tax exemption saves her $6,920 in taxes a year. Did we mention she lost both her legs fighting in America's wars? You know, in case we forgot that part. The end.

[Fox News / Chicago Sun-Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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