Top mayoral aide got homestead tax breaks for rental property

In 2010, the homestead credit knocked about $4,800 off the $9,000 city tax bill for the property. It also reduced the much smaller state property tax bill by $169. A year later, city and state credits cut the overall tax bill by about $4,800. This year the credit — since revoked — lopped $4,646 off the bill.

The amount of the homestead credit on the Baltimore Street house has been bigger than the citywide average because the home's assessed value has nearly tripled since Zaied bought it in 1998 for $140,000. The state values it at $399,400.

Zaied said he didn't realize that his taxes had been cut in half by the credit because he didn't study his tax bills. He said he looked only at statements from his mortgage company, which paid his net tax bill from his monthly payments.

"I don't remember seeing any of the credit, to be honest with you," he said. "The only number I saw is what I received from my mortgage company — what they say they paid for my taxes. That's what I understood as my taxes."

Charles said the state was doing a periodic check late last year when it found that Zaied listed two homes as his principal residence. In January, the state removed the credit for the Baltimore Street property after getting no reply to a letter mailed to the house in December. (Zaied says he does not recall receiving the letter.)

That in turn prompted the city to send Zaied a revised tax bill Jan. 30. It said he owed $4,646 — the value of the erroneous credit — plus about $600 in interest and penalties, for a total of $5,265.

After The Sun asked the city Finance Department last Wednesday about tax bills for the Baltimore Street property, someone in the department notified him, Zaied said. "That was the first I was made aware of those issues," he said.

He said he paid the overdue $5,265 the same day, a payment that is reflected on the city's property tax website.

"I don't want to be the deputy mayor with a delinquent tax bill," he said.

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