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URGENT Please help me save our family, friends, and neighbors some money.

December 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured

In 2007 a new law went into effect that required that we FILE a one time simple APPLICATION in order to get the credit. Up to now, the deadline kept getting extended because so many of us still had not filed. But at last we will reach the final deadline on 12/31/2012, and they aren’t going to give the credit anymore for those of us that don’t file.

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Many of us own homes in Maryland, or know people that own homes in Maryland. For some of us, in the time we have owned these homes, property values, and thus property taxes have increased.

But to save existing homeowners from being priced out of their own homes by rising property taxes, Maryland has a Homestead Tax Credit. That effectively kept the tax increase below 10% a year, and often much lower than that, IF this was your only principal residence.

When we bought our homes, the title company notified Maryland that the house would be our principal residence for us. So we all got the tax credit automatically.

In 2007 a new law went into effect that required that we FILE a one time simple APPLICATION in order to get the credit. Up to now, the deadline kept getting extended because so many of us still had not filed. But at last we will reach the final deadline on 12/31/2012, and they aren’t going to give the credit anymore for those of us that don’t file.

While many of us did file, many still did NOT. There is substantial money at stake. I have two neighbors that did not yet file. This information is available online. And it shows one of them will pay an extra $528 dollars a year in property taxes starting next year, unless they fill out a simple form and mail it in postmarked by December 31 of this year.

So even if you have filed, or don’t own a house in Maryland, you can help. Check for your friends, family, and neighbors. If they didn’t file, make sure to let them know they still can until December 31st.

The information is all available online via the Maryland SDAT web site. It is a bit tedious to find the many people that haven’t yet filed. But if you leave off the street number when searching, you will see a list of everyone on that street. You can then click through each record to see if someone has filed.

All you need to research is the street name. Leave off the “Road, Lane, Circle, Court, etc” part. Click submit. Then a list of everyone on that street that did not file, and how much money is at stake will appear in a table.

Let’s let them know and help them file if they need help. Some people will need the help. And if some of these people are up to the task, maybe they can Pay It Forward and look up their family, friends, and neighbors and start the process over.

Let’s get this ball rolling. If you can spread the word, and help this go viral, that will help too. There are very few days left.

If you miss the deadline, you can file next year, but that will only protect you from future tax increases. So this is very time sensitive. To get the benefit on your next tax bill due July 1st, 2013, you must file an application by December 31st, 2012.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year,

Peter Baumbach
Associate Broker, Realtor with Taylor Properties

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Download the application here:

How To Challenge Your Maryland Property Tax Assessment

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

US Supreme Court

When property values were rising, local governments were loving the new higher property tax assessments that went along with that. Existing homeowners were protected from quickly rising tax bills by the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit. But, new homeowners aren’t immediately protected by the Homestead Tax Credit. Still, at least they know in advance how high their tax bill might be. Now that most homeowners have had their property values decline with the housing market and slow economy, assessments will lag behind. Maryland assesses property values every three years. So two thirds of the homes will not be looked at this year. For that one third it remains to be seen if assessments will drop. In the end the responsibility falls to each homeowner to make sure their assessment is fair.

So, how do I challenge my assessment? Property assessments are supposed to reflect property values in a theoretical arms length transaction. This means if a neighborhood house was foreclosed on, or sold to a family member, the transaction value does not impact assessments. If we have enough of these transactions, as we do in some neighborhoods, then regular sales values are affected. These regular sales can then be relied on as evidence of reduced assessment values. You can look up sold prices at the Maryland SDAT property tax search, or you can ask a Realtor for a report on recent solds. If you promise me you will spread the word to family and friends about the website and homes search, I’ll make you a report of the last 50 homes that sold within a circle around your home.

Read through the American Homeowners Association “Property Tax Reduction Kit“. This document is a good general guide to how to approach an appeal. It is not Maryland specific however. Next you might want to look over the Maryland Assessment Procedures Manual. Also, you may want to take a look at the updates. And SDAT has written a guide to the appeal process. For more background, here is an example worksheet for calculating the property assessment on a particular house. Everyone can order a copy of the worksheet for their house. If you are appealing then you have the right to order the worksheet for anyone’s house. Everyone is to be treated equally under the assessment process. You can use other peoples worksheets as a guide to how yours should be done. Each worksheet costs one dollar.

Armed with any factual discrepancies on your house, worksheets of similar houses, and sold prices in your neighborhood, you have a reasonable chance of reducing your assessment at an appeal. The first level of the appeals process is with the person that assessed your property in the first place. If you have an unfinished basement, but the tax records say it was finished, with proof, you will win this battle. Another avenue of attack is condition. The assessor has leeway to say the condition is less than 100 percent. This can translate into a percentage reduction in that portion of the value. The rest of your appeal will be more difficult. Your home has been categorized into very specific categories. If a neighbors home is a different style, then the assessor might not take it as evidence of inequity of treatment. If you can, get worksheets for homes styled like yours. The assessor will argue that you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, so you need not worry that the assessment seems high to you. Don’t let them get away with that. You could argue right back that since your tax is limited by the Credit, they might as well lower the assessment. A lower assessment could make it easier to sell your house, since the new owner will be taxed at the assessed value.

The next level of appeal is more formal than the first. Still, there are no fees, and you don’t need a lawyer. You can represent yourself. This appeal is before your county Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board. This is composed of three local residents appointed by the Governor. Be sure to request in writing at least 15 days before your hearing, a list of the comparable properties that will be used by the assessment office before the Board. Read over the rules for the board.

If you are still not satisfied with your ruling, you can appeal to the Maryland Tax Court. This too is made up of people appointed by the Governor. It is an administrative court under the Executive branch of government. It is still informal, but a lawyer might be wanted at this hearing. For any level in the appeals process, you might find it instructive to read some of the past rulings of the Maryland Tax Court.

Now that you have gone through channels, and used up your remedies within the Executive branch of government, your next option is to try appealing through the Judiciary court system. Another option, which a friend of mine succeeded with, is to petition the Legislative branch of government for a change of the law. This is another story, but in his case, the law did change…but this only benefits the rest of us. His case was still correct under the old law.

I am not a lawyer. I am only reporting my limited knowledge of the assessment and appeals process. If you have gone through this, or have any tips, please comment below.

Photo credit, dbking.

Maryland SDAT Property Tax Assessment Search

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Comments Off on Maryland SDAT Property Tax Assessment Search

The Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation (SDAT) maintains a database of all privately held real estate in Maryland. With these public records, you have access to real property ownership, assessed value and property sales in Maryland. The website address, however, was not designed to be remembered. With this blog post, I can remedy that: will take you to this search page. You can use this as your shortcut. I think this should be easier to remember.

If you want to appeal your assessment, I have collected some resources that you might find useful. search tools can show you bank owned homes, preforeclosure and short sale listings. You can search for homes by percentage price drop. You can browse listings on a map and see the price your neighbors house is selling for around the corner from you.