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Happy new year! Now pay your property tax

mailbox.jpgGuess what could be waiting for you at home?

Your latest Maryland property assessment, and be prepared: it’s not going to reflect the slowdown in the real estate market.

The assessments will arrive this week at homes and businesses, and the average one is rising 33 percent over three years ago.

It’s an average 75 percent increase in Baltimore and nearly 52 percent increase in PG County. MoCo had the smallest increase on average: about 16 percent. The jumps reflect the overall increase in the market in the past three years.

There is one silver lining: the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which limits tax increases on homeowners’ primary residences to no more than 10 percent per year. And it’s a one-time application.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

4 comments

  1. Most people do not realize you can appeal the tax assessment. At the very least, it is worth appealing so that you know exactly what the assessment was based upon. Several years ago, I appealed and learned that the County had an incorrect number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and the wrong finished vs. unfinished square footage — all too high. The result of my appeal (and the corrections I made with the County) was a decrease in the assessment.

  2. Experienced Appealer

    I have appealed three of my assessments, and I found the appeal process easy and worthwhile.

    The first level appeal, which is basically an informal conference with the local assessor, allows you to ensure that the information that the state has on file about your house is complete and accurate. It is also your chance to point out subtle details about your property that are not reflected in the valuation worksheet that the SDAT prepares for each property. For example, if your house is on an undesirable lot because of the view, or because the backyard is hilly, or because the neighbor’s house casts a permanent shadow over your sunroom, the first level assessor will sometimes reduce your assesstment.

    The second level is where you can often make even more progress. The second level, which is an informal board of three local community members, has always been very fair, in my experience. You get about 10 minutes to explain why your house is overassessed, and the assessor then has to refute your claims. I used a short Power Point presentation during the second level appeal and the Board members really seemed to appreciate it.

    I’ve never been to the third level, which is tax court, as the second level has always given me everything that I’ve asked for.

  3. Experienced Appealer

    I should add that if you bring any presentation material (including photos) to any of the appeal meetings / hearings, be sure to bring enough copies for everyone. For the first level, you’ll need just two copies: one for yourself and one for the assessor. For the second level, bring five copies: one for yourself, one for the assessor, and one for each of the Board members.

    Also, be courteous and businesslike at the appeals meetings/hearings. The assessor wants to get the value right, although he/she really represents the county’s interests more than he/she represents your interests. At the second level, the Board members are truly independent of the government, and they definitely appreciate courtesy, pictures, diagrams, and clear explanations of why your house is worth less than the DAT’s assessment statement.

  4. Experienced Appealer

    One last comment: The 2nd level appeals are open to the public. They are held in a small hearing room that has a few chairs for spectators, but rarely does anyone watch the hearings. If you thinking of going to the second level, then watch some hearings at least a month or two before your hearing so that you can be prepared for the types of questions that the Board members will ask and so that you can tailor your presentation to meet the expectations of the Board members.