Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. Oct. 24, 2022, to clarify and include documentation provided by Natali Fani-Gonzalez.
County Council District 6 candidate Natali Fani-Gonzalez on Monday provided documentation clarifying that her husband remains eligible for a 100% disabled veteran property tax exemption — contrary to claims made by a local activists group.
The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, a group that primarily advocates for transparency within Montgomery County Public Schools, posted documents from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims last week that showed Fani-Gonzalez’s husband, Angel Gonzalez, filed an appeal of an April 2020 Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision.
The board’s decision denied Angel Gonzalez entitlement to benefits for a left-wrist injury and residuals from a traumatic brain injury and also entitlement to a disability rating in excess of 30% for a left pectoralis disability, left shoulder disability and left and right shoulder scars.
In its post, the Parents’ Coalition alleges that from 2017 to 2022, Fani-Gonzalez and Gonzalez have avoided paying approximately $22,000 of property taxes through their “false claim” of 100% military disability.
Fani-Gonzalez said Monday night that she and her husband have not neglected to pay owed taxes and that there is no litigation over the tax exemption.
Fani-Gonzalez provided Bethesda Beat with documentation that her husband remains eligible for the 100% disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption and that a review of his eligibility was closed last week. She provided an email from Ava McIntyre-Garvey, supervisor of assessments for Montgomery County for the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation:
“The matter of reviewing the 100% disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption is closed and you remain eligible for this property tax exemption on your property. SDAT has never stated to any individuals or groups that there was an investigation of illegal receipt of exemption on your account. We received a complaint from a person along with a copy of a court document. Our office had an obligation to review those concerns that questioned the rating disability. The matter was never discussed with him,” McIntyre-Garvey wrote.
“The matter was reviewed with our Asst. Attorney General’s Office to be sure the exemption rating was accurate. Account exemption applications and applications are considered confidential in nature and are never discussed with the general public. We were advised by our Asst. Attorney General’s office to confirm with the individual who filed the complaint that the rating and exemption were proper on the account. SDAT confirmed this to that individual on August 5th and on again on August 29th. The post you brought to our attention has a date October 19, and is not the opinion of SDAT. The Montgomery County Office has not had any communication with anyone from such a group.”
Fani-Gonzalez said, “First and foremost, there has never been a discrepancy or wrongdoing with my husband’s Federal and State benefits. Furthermore, we have never neglected to comply with our Federal, State and local tax obligations. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims remanded the misconstrued case, hence, since this litigation is ongoing; this matter can not be further discussed,” Fani-Gonzalez wrote in a statement to Bethesda Beat.
Gonzalez said “the attacks through this dubious accusation on my husband’s military (USMC) service and his recognized advocacy for Veterans’ rights in the last 22 years reflects how far some in our society discredit the 1% who honorably served this nation to further their agendas,” she continued.
Fani-Gonzalez responded to the Parents’ Coalition allegations on Twitter on Thursday.
“It is appalling to be attacking Veteran families, especially after the corresponding agency has verified the legitimacy of the earned benefits bestowed by the State. My husband has been standing for Veterans and their families for 22 years … and more recently was invited to the White House to celebrate the passing of the PACT Act due to his remarkable efforts advocating for Veterans exposed to toxic environments during their service,” she tweeted.
Fani-Gonzalez noted the PACT Act includes veterans from the Vietnam era through post-9/11 conflicts.