(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Aug 09, 2022
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday slammed his GOP opponent in the state's U.S. Senate election, Mehmet Oz, for taking advantage of a tax break under a program originally intended to help struggling farmers, saying the tax relief underscores how the celebrity doctor seeks to benefit from Pennsylvania instead of serving the state.
"Dr. Oz hasn't even moved into his 'home' in Pennsylvania yet, but he's already found time to claim a tax break on his new mansion in Pennsylvania--a tax break meant for struggling small-time farmers."
Oz, who has been known for years as TV personality Dr. Oz, purchased a farmstead in Montgomery County late last year, weeks after he announced he was running for Senate. Oz has homes in Florida and New Jersey and has been staying at a Pennsylvania house owned by his in-laws since 2020, when Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced his plan to retire.
As the Philadelphia Inquirerreported Tuesday, the $3.1 million Montgomery County property is eligible for a tax relief and conservation program called Act 319, which gives landowners a more favorable tax assessment in return for protecting land from development.
Oz's home, where he still doesn't live, has been held back from development as a "forest reserve," with Oz and his wife agreeing to preserve tree cover that exists on the property.
In exchange, the state has assessed the value of the property at less than $450,000, subjecting Oz to an annual tax bill of just $21,473 instead of $72,000.
While the tax break is meant to incentivize homeowners to refrain from developing forested land, according to the Inquirer, Oz agreed when he bought the home to "not construct any improvement of structures" on the property.
He applied for the Act 319 tax break months later.
"The intent here was to induce [Oz] to not develop the land," tax attorney Richard Booker told the Inquirer. "But he'd already agreed to that."
On Twitter, Fetterman posted an image of a check made out to "Farmer Oz."
Oz's use of Act 319 is completely legal--but with tax break affecting a local school district's budget, Fetterman said the doctor's actions demonstrate that "Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn't want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat."
Fetterman noted that according to the Inquirer, Oz has claimed that ongoing renovations have kept him from moving into the home he purchased--"on two recent afternoons, there were no cars in the driveway or signs of construction activity at the house."
"Dr. Oz hasn't even moved into his 'home' in Pennsylvania yet, but he's already found time to claim a tax break on his new mansion in Pennsylvania--a tax break meant for struggling small-time farmers," said Fetterman. "It also looks like Dr. Oz is no longer even pretending to be renovating and getting ready to move into this house where he supposedly plans to live."
"Honestly, he's just acknowledging what we all already know: that as soon as he loses, Dr. Oz is heading back to his mansion in New Jersey," he added.
Campaigning as "the pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker, pro-democracy candidate" for Senate, Fetterman has harshly criticized Oz for only recently moving into his in-laws' home in Pennsylvania and for still owning a home in New Jersey.
He rebuked Oz last week for newly resurfaced comments in which the doctor said, "It's very hard to discern significant differences in happiness in someone who's making $50,000 and $50 million," calling Oz "out of touch from reality."
"Dr. Oz is a fraud who is just using the people of Pennsylvania, he does not care about us one bit," said Fetterman on Tuesday.
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