Property taxes can be a significant personal and business expense. When the county tax appraiser’s office tells you that your property is worth a certain amount, you might think that you have no choice but to pay their bill or suffer the consequences. The reality is a bit different in Maryland, where you do have the right to appeal a property tax bill.
Our real estate markets have been fluctuating over the past several decades. Depending on when your property is located, and the last assessment date, you may not feel that the current value attributed to your property is entirely accurate. In many cases, it’s not, and adjustments need to be made to accurately reflect market conditions.
How Maryland Property Tax Bills Are Calculated
You’re certainly not the first person to open their annual property tax bill and suffer from shock. The state of Maryland uses two factors to determine these taxes. The first is the value of your home and the second is the tax rate that your local agency uses to calculate the amount due.
In the state of Maryland, a home’s value for the purposes of property taxes is 100% of its “full cash value.” Essentially, this is the price that your home would sell for on the open market. This figure might also be referred to as the assessment ratio.
What Happens When Your Taxes Are Increased
It’s never fun to open that tax bill and see an astronomical increase. However, there are two pieces of good news associated with such an increase. First, the county has placed a higher value on your property, which is a benefit if you are considering selling your home. Second, the increased tax payment isn’t all due at once, thanks to the state’s phase-in process.
Maryland uses a 3-year phase-in period for property tax increases. This means that the increase in the value of your property will be equally divided over the next three years. For example, let’s assume your home was previously worth $200,000, but now the county tells you it’s worth $230,000. You’ll be taxed on a value of $210,000 the first year, $220,000 the second, and $230,000 the third.
Your Options to Appeal a Maryland Property Tax Bill
Assuming you disagree that your home is now worth $230,000, you have some options. You may believe that your home is still worth the original $200,000 or even that it has lost value due to market conditions, depreciation, or both. If you feel that the value listed is inaccurate or unfair, you have the right to file an appeal and dispute the assessed value of your home.
In the state of Maryland, any property tax appeal must prove one of the following facts:
- The tax assessment office relied on incorrect or incomplete information. For example, the square footage of your home listed is inaccurate, or you have fewer bedrooms than are listed.
- The assessment values your home higher than comparable homes in the area.
- The tax assessment assumes that the value of your home is higher than it actually
If you believe that any of these facts are true about your current tax bill and the value listed, you should speak with a qualified Maryland real estate attorney about your options.
The appeal itself is filed with the city or county Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board. You should have enough evidence ready to support your claims such as a recent home appraisal, comparable home listings, or contractors reports and billings.
In some cases, your real estate attorney may be able to get the tax assessor to quickly re-evaluate your bill and make a change if there is clear evidence of a mistake. Otherwise, your attorney can take the proper steps to protect your rights as a homeowner and file the appeal with the Supervisor of Assessments. If you don’t agree with the decision of the Appeal Board, the next step is to ask the Maryland Tax Court to hear your case.
Unfortunately, appealing a Maryland property tax bill isn’t always a simple matter. There are deadlines to meet as well as other requirements that could result in delays or denials of your request. Contact the experienced Maryland real estate attorneys at the Evans Law at 410-626-6009 to find out how we can help expedite your appeal.