It seems that at least one resident of the great state of Maryland was troubled to learn that Montana State Auditor and Senate candidate Matt Rosendale perjured himself on a document, falsely claiming he was a Maryland resident to obtain a tax break on a land sale.
Paul Bessel, in a letter to the Compliance Director of the Maryland Comptroller’s office, filed a complaint dated May 2, asserting that Mr. Rosendale “may have made a false statement on a tax form by claiming to be a resident of Maryland and, in doing so, impermissibly obtained favorable tax treatment under state law.”
Bessel lays out a compelling case, noting that Rosendale voted in Montana and ran for elected offices that only residents of Montana can hold before deliberately claiming to be a Maryland resident on a legal document:
Here, there is substantial evidence that Mr. Rosendale acted willfully in claiming to be a Maryland resident. First, the “resident” box was selected on two simple forms containing a clear statement of residency, located adjacent to a statement acknowledging that a false statement could be punishable as perjury. Second, Mr. Rosendale made these statements in order to secure a tax benefit for himself. And, third, Mr. Rosendale’s status as a Montana resident must have been evident given his position in the state senate (which requires Montana residency) and his background in public office.
Bessel cuts at the heart of the Rosendale defense: the documents he signed contain explicit directions for resident status as well as a clear statement that the penalty could be perjury. Mr. Rosendale, who is running in part on his experience as a real estate developer, can hardly credibly claim that he didn’t understand exactly what he was signing.
He also points out that the purpose of claiming Maryland residency would be to avoid paying taxes:
The Comptroller’s Office should also investigate whether Mr. Rosendale impermissibly obtained tax withholding relief in connection with the property sale. Under Maryland law, if a seller of property is a nonresident and fails to satisfy any other exemption in law, the parties must withhold and pay an amount equal to the top state marginal rate and the county income tax rate multiplied by the net sales proceeds. In contrast, income tax withholding is not required if the seller certifies under penalty of perjury that he or she is a Maryland resident. Here, as Mr. Rosendale was neither “domiciled” in Maryland as of the effective date of the deed.
Mr. Bessel, as a Maryland taxpayer absolutely deserves, as he says, “to know if our tax funds are being used to improperly benefit Matt Rosendale.” Montanans also deserve to know whether a person running to represent us in the Senate deliberately perjured himself or can’t be trusted to carefully read and review a legal document before he signs it. Whether it was an intent to deny the people of Maryland their fair share of taxes from a land sale or it demonstrates a horrifically negligent attitude towards legal work, the people of Montana deserve more answers than Mr. Rosendale has provided so far.
I’m glad Mr. Bessel is asking, and I hope some people here do the same.