Stacy Davis Gates gets a homeowner’s tax break for an Indiana home she doesn’t live in

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
November 6, 2023

Stacy Davis Gates gets a homeowner’s tax break for an Indiana home she doesn’t live in

Stacy Davis Gates is taking a property tax break on a house she owns in Indiana but doesn’t live in. She and her husband own a home and reside in Chicago. So how can the Chicago Teachers Union president claim to live in two places?

Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates owns a property in Indiana and receives a property tax deduction reserved for owners who actually occupy their homes, according to public records obtained by the Illinois Policy Institute.

Davis Gates would pay four times more in Indiana property taxes if she didn’t take the homestead deduction.

For someone who pushes for the wealthy to pay their “fair share,” it begs the question: Is the Chicago Teachers Union president paying her fair share?

Davis Gates is taking a homestead deduction for a house in South Bend, Indiana

In December 2006, Stacy Davis purchased a property in South Bend, Indiana, according to a mortgage recorded with the St. Joseph County recorder. A warranty deed was recorded the same day, naming Percy Lee Davis as conveying the property to Stacy Davis.

There is currently a homestead deduction on the South Bend property, according to tax documents. The homestead deduction is one of the most common property tax deductions taken in Indiana, as explained on the St. Joseph County Auditor’s website.

Who gets the homestead deduction? People who own and occupy a home as their principal place of residency.

“If you own a property and it is your principle [sic] place of residency, you could apply for the homestead deduction,” the website explains. The website also outlines civil penalties for failing to notify the auditor of a change in use of the property.

Davis Gates listed the South Bend home as her former address when she registered to vote in Illinois in 2014.

Davis Gates would pay four times more in property taxes if she did not take the homestead deduction on the South Bend home

A review of the 2022-2023 tax bill on the South Bend property shows the gross assessed value of the home at $47,400. The homestead deduction, listed in Table 5 of the bill, is $28,440.

That makes the net assessed value of the property $9,324, rather than the $37,764 if the homestead deduction were not taken. That makes the total property tax liability $433.68.

If she weren’t taking the homestead exemption, she would pay $1,997 – four times more than she is currently paying – at the local tax rate of 5.2897, as explained in Table 3 of the bill. Over time, that adds up to thousands of dollars in tax breaks.

The move to take a homestead deduction in a state in which she doesn’t reside – thereby depriving that state of some tax revenue – is notable, given Davis Gates and CTU’s ongoing mission to make the wealthy pay their “fair share.”

In pushing CTU members to vote for Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson in 2023, Davis Gates wrote, “He is the only candidate who has a plan to pay for desperately needed new investments by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.” Back in 2020, CTU and Davis Gates advocated a “fair tax” amendment that would have raised taxes on the middle class. And during contentious negotiations for an expensive new CTU contract in 2019, she reportedly said, “Where will the money come from? Rich people.”

Davis Gates’ own income tops $289,000 a year, yet she is taking a homestead exemption in a state in which she doesn’t live. Is she really paying her fair share to the state of Indiana? 

While there are no homestead deductions listed on the home Davis Gates and her husband own in Illinois, that doesn’t change the fact she would owe Indiana more if she were not taking the deduction.

Questions about Davis Gates’ residency are compounded by other documents

In 2004, Davis Gates signed a “Sworn Residency Statement” with Chicago Public Schools, indicating she resided within the City of Chicago.

In 2014, Davis Gates registered to vote in Illinois, providing the South Bend address as her former registration address. She provided a Chicago address as her residence address.

Then in 2016, she was issued a traffic violation by the Chicago Police Department, with the court record showing she had an Indiana driver’s license at the time.

Residency discrepancies add to the failures of Davis Gates’ CTU presidency

Davis Gates’ use of the homestead deduction in Indiana while advocating for higher taxes on others in Illinois is her second recent hypocrisy.

Davis Gates in September came under fire for choosing to put her own son in private school. She made that decision while vehemently opposing and working to kill Illinois’ only school choice program, the Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program for low-income families.

In defending her decision, she highlighted problems within Chicago Public Schools, noting her son needed his private school so he could “live out his dream of being a soccer player while also having a curriculum that can meet his social and emotional needs.” That is something she and CTU want to deny “for good” to the 9,600 low-income kids currently receiving scholarships through Invest in Kids.

Davis Gates’ track record as president includes spending little on members, spending more than the union has and losing members.

The union’s recent filing with the U.S. Department of Labor shows under her leadership, just 17% of the union’s spending in its 2023 fiscal year was on representing teachers – what should be the core purpose of the union – while political spending nearly tripled since she took over. The union ran its first reported deficit in 2023 under her leadership.

That could be why nearly 500 education employees have chosen not to associate with the union since she took over.

All of that comes on the heels of accusations CTU leadership spent members’ dues for political purposes without their consent earlier in the year.

From a questionable tax deduction in Indiana to dubious leadership decisions at CTU, Davis Gates’ presidency is tainted. Members upset with her double standards and her focus on politics rather than representation should call for new leadership.

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