At a Washington news conference Wednesday, Rangel blamed "cultural and language barriers" for a financial misunderstanding. He failed to report $75,000 in rental income from the villa, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Rangel said he hadn't been aware of the income and the unpaid taxes partly because he had trouble getting detailed financial statements from resort managers.
"Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they'd start speaking Spanish," Rangel said.
He said he had asked the U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee to investigate the issues surrounding the villa.
Rangel ignored calls from Republicans that he step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.