by Bob Franke
Customer Service Manager
Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance
The holidays are busy, but you’ll want to make sure to add one important thing to your to-do list. The deadline to file to retain your Homestead Tax Credit is next Monday, December 31, 2012. If you own the home where you live, you have been getting a significant credit on your property taxes for years. That credit will expire unless you file by the deadline.
For the past five years, the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation has been requiring residential property owners to file a new application to be eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit. You may have received the credit in the past, but if you fail to file an application that benefit will cease.
For those of you who need a small refresher, the Homestead is a tax credit that applies to your primary residence only. The credit limits the amount of your property assessment on which you actually pay taxes. While your assessments may increase dramatically, the credit limits the increase in the taxable portion of that assessment to just 4% per year. Our Taxpayer Services Section works with Baltimore County property owners on a daily basis, and we can clearly see the impact this tax credit has had on some accounts that otherwise would have faced 20%, 40%, or even 60% increases in their tax bill.
The credit itself can be very large during times of high property assessment increases, but shrinks as assessment growth slows or as assessments even decrease (as we have seen in recent years). Some property owners who, through lower reassessments or because they recently moved, may have seen the credit drop to zero and are wondering is it worth filing now. The truth is, no one knows when and if housing prices will rapidly accelerate again, but with the Homestead Tax credit eligibility in place, you can be protected automatically. That’s why it’s critical that you apply before the December 31st deadline. It’s a quick and simple one-time process that can save you substantial money.
If you are unsure if you’re approved, or simply want to verify your eligibility, you should visit the State Department of Assessments and Taxation website at www.dat.state.md.us and click on “Real Property Data Search.” Click on Baltimore County and enter your street address. When your property page is displayed, scroll to the very bottom to see if you submitted the application.
If you haven’t filed the application yet, you can reach the Homestead Credit Program by calling (410) 767-2165, or toll free at 1-866-650-8783.
Please, take a few minutes to verify your eligibility for this credit, and if necessary file the application.
Is it a big deal? You bet it is.