Relief from rising assessments

January 23, 2007

Though the sales of existing properties have slowed, officials of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation say the real-estate market is still strong.

From 2004 to 2006, statewide assessments have increased by 65 percent. State officials said much of that is driven by the sharp increases in property values over the past several years.

That doesn't mean individuals will be taxed on that increase, because in 2006, the Washington County Commissioners lowered the cap on how much property assessments can rise for tax purposes to 5 percent a year.

Since assessments are done every three years, that means that instead of rising the 20 percent or more a year that it might have, property taxes will go up by "only" 15 percent.


There are three things that concerned property owners can do. They include:

Appeal your assessment. For instructions, go to, or call 888-246-5941. The deadline to appeal the latest round of assessments is Monday, Feb. 12.

Determine whether you qualify for the Homeowners' Tax Credit Program. Home-owners of all ages can qualify if their gross income falls below a certain level set by the state.

Ask your local government to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate when setting the year's property-tax rate. That rate will allow the government to raise the same amount it did last year, even though assessments have increased.

If no one asks for relief, government officials may conclude that their constituents don't care whether or not they get it.

If you feel differently, tell them now, before the new tax rate is set in stone.

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