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Public servants disabled in line of duty could get tax credit from Washington County

July 30, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Police officers, correctional officers and emergency service workers disabled in the line of duty or the spouses of those workers killed while on duty could benefit under a property tax credit considered Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

The credit, approved by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2008 Regular Session, would apply to the county portion of property tax bills.

County governments can decide whether to adopt the credit and also can determine the amount and duration of the credit.

The Washington County Commissioners discussed the credit Tuesday but took no formal action.

Several commissioners said they want more information about how the tax credit would work before they agree to support it, noting that several parameters of the tax credit are unclear or are left up to county governments to define.

"The devil's in the details," Commissioner James F. Kercheval said.

Kercheval asked if the tax credit would be retroactive to the date of the injury or death.

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Assistant County Attorney Andrew F. Wilkinson said the county most likely would not have to pay credit on property taxes paid before the credit took effect.

The tax credit might, however, be applicable now for injuries or deaths that occurred several years ago, Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said he does not know how many people in Washington County would be eligible for the tax credit.

The credit passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year expands on an existing credit for the surviving spouses of police, firefighters or emergency workers killed in the line of duty.

That credit, passed in 2003, has not been adopted by the Washington County Commissioners.

The expanded credit would apply to police, firefighters and emergency service workers who are "permanently and totally disabled" in the line of duty, according to Maryland Tax Code.

Generally, under Maryland code, permanently and totally disabled people are defined as those who are physically or mentally unable to work or for which no market exists, Wilkinson said.

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