The public utility, which has its headquarters on Md. 632 south of Hagerstown, owns property and equipment assessed at more than $115 million.
It employs about 400 people in Washington County, according to the 1997 Business and Industry Directory published by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
Bell Atlantic paid more than $1.8 million in real and personal property taxes for the current tax year, which began in July, according to county tax records.
The company owns property and equipment assessed at just under $78 million, according to tax records.
Citicorp was edged out for third on the list this year by First Data Merchant Services, which had a combined real and personal property tax bill of more than $1 million before receiving an enterprise tax zone credit of $190,328.
First Data's debut on the top 10 list can be attributed to a doubling of the company's personal property tax bill for the past two years, said Washington County Treasurer Todd Hershey.
The bill was doubled because Card Establishment Services Inc., which was acquired by First Data, hasn't submitted a required personal property form to the state for the past two years, Hershey said.
That brought the personal property tax portion of the company's pre-credit county tax bill to $785,353 this year, he said.
Hershey said the figure is probably much higher than if it was based on an actual assessment of the personal property, but the assessment is automatically doubled when the form is not submitted.
Another newcomer to the top 10 list this year was Staples of Maryland, which saw a major increase in its real estate assessment with the building of its new 840,000-square-foot distribution center off Hopewell Road, Hershey said.
However, the company's $338,671 tax bill was substantially reduced by a $251,554 enterprise tax zone credit.
Citicorp, which employs about 2,250 workers at its computer center north of Hagerstown, paid $664,680 in combined real and personal property this year.
Rounding out the top 10 list are Phoenix Color Corp., Hagerstown Valley Mall Association, Columbia Gas of Maryland, AT&T Communications and Mack Trucks Inc.
Most large companies pay their tax bills early to qualify for a discount, Hershey said. Companies that paid by July 31 received a 1 percent discount on the county portion of their tax bill, he said.
The top 10 list is an unofficial effort to list the largest taxpayers in the county - information that the county uses in securing bond ratings, Hershey said.
The report is flawed to the extent that it omits some local families and companies that have large land holdings listed under too many names to be researched easily, he said.