The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that Washington D.C. hedge fund banker, Eric Hovde, tried to take advantage of state government tax incentives intended to benefit Wisconsin farmers and had to pay $22,500 in back taxes. Last week it was also reported that one of Hovde's financial interests took over $8,000 in government assistance from a program intended for tobacco farmers.

In May, Tammy Baldwin released 10 years of state and federal tax returns and challenged her Republican opponents to do the same. All the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have kept their tax returns secret and have refused to release them.

Hovde has said that because he hasn’t filed his tax returns this year, he can’t release the last 10 years of state and federal tax returns. It remains unclear how many other government programs and tax loopholes Hovde may have utilized. Hovde's net worth is estimated at more than $50 million and the media has reported that his finances are contained within "a complex web of investment firms, holding companies, and stock portfolios," including holdings in a fund based in the Cayman Islands — a popular tax haven.

“Eric Hovde is against federal government assistance — unless it’s for him,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “Now we learn Hovde tried to exploit the tax system in Wisconsin in order to lower his tax burden while at the same time he advocates for tax cuts for multi-millionaires like himself. This is yet another reason why Hovde needs to end his tax dodge and release 10 years of his state and federal tax records.”

The Milwaukee Journal reported, “Hovde Realty made use of another government incentive for farmers, Wisconsin's so-called use-value assessment law” and that “the law also allowed for penalties if an owner used the land in a way inconsistent with farming by developing it. In 2002, the City of Madison commenced a series of lawsuits charging that Hovde Realty and other firms had done exactly that.”

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