Buying a home in Baltimore? There can be some sticker shock with annual taxes. Your tax bill is based upon the assessed value which can be found online by visiting the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation website. In Baltimore, the current property tax bill can be found on the Baltimore City website under "online payments - real property". Keep in mind the tax bill has to do with the current owners position, yours may be different. This includes owner-occupied vs. investment property.
If the tax assessed value correlates with the current market value (or less) then you're all set. In the event that you conclude that the tax assessed value is too high, as a property owner you have the right to an appeal. If you purchase a property between January 1 and July 1, as a new property owner you may file an appeal within 60 days of transfer. Petition forms can be found here.
After filing an appeal, you will be scheduled for a hearing. The first part of the appeal process is designed to be informal and should take "around 15 minutes" *source State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation.
Your real estate professional can help you prepare for this meeting. You'll want to equip yourself with recent sale data. In many cases the best data is the purchase price you paid for the property. Did you purchase a property for $175,000 that was assessed for $350,000? (ahem Reservoir Hill) Was your $175,000 purchase price supported by an appraisal? Then start here. Next look closely at the data recorded for your property on the tax website. Is there an obvious reason the value is wrong? Is the square footage measurement accurate? Is the lot size correct?
Next gather the market data for the other homes that would serve as comparables. If you purchased a condo, focus on the sales within your own building from the past six months. Chances are that you may have relied on these same comparables when you negotiated your purchase price.
After your initial informal hearing you'll receive a final notice in the mail. Hopefully that notice will support your conclusion about the property value. But let's say you disagree with that decision? Round two is the opportunity to make an appeal to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board. The good news? This board is an independent entity comprised of local residents.
The decision to go before this board is time sensitive. You need to file within 30 days of receiving your final notice. Once you have a hearing scheduled "you can obtain a list of comparable properties that will be used by the assessment office before the board if you file a written request to the assessment office at least 15 days before the scheduled date of hearing" *source State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation.
Dissatisfied with the decision made by the Appeal Board? - and we're talking dissatisfied because you don't agree with their conclusion as opposed to being bummed that your suggested valuation was not entertained - then you've got the option within 30 days to file an appeal with the Maryland Tax Court. If you've reached this stage, it makes sense to consider legal counsel.
So what if you've owned your home for years? You have the right to appeal your assessment following receipt of a "Notice of Assessment". As a Baltimore property owner you'll receive one of these notices every three years and you simply have to sign and return the form to schedule your hearing. Do this within 45 days of receiving the notice. In fact anything that says "tax" or "jury" should not gather dust on your desk.
Let's say you don't want to wait three years, especially if circumstances have impacted your property value (such as the collapse of the housing market or glut of foreclosures in your neighborhood) you can file a petition for review - the form is available here. Baltimore City needs your tax dollars to keep our shared resources working. It costs more to live in a city, and it should. We've got 19th century infrastructure to upgrade. Not a big price to pay in exchange for our governments services.
Beyond appealing the tax assessed value, there's a number of tax credits and exemptions available in Baltimore including the Homestead Tax Credit, Homeowners Tax Credit and a number of exemptions related to income, disability, charitable usage, educational usage, and beyond. Speak with your tax professional about your eligibility for the aforementioned exemptions. If you are in the process of purchasing a home, many Maryland mortgage lenders and title companies can also serve as guides to finding benefits that will work for you.
For more information on the variety of topics covered in this post visit the State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation website - it's remarkably user-friendly.
Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty and
Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions
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