by Dan Krell © 2007
Many homeowners received their new tax assessments this past year. As they opened the official envelopes with much trepidation, many were in disbelief in the increase in property tax. As home values skyrocketed the last few years, so did tax bills. If you have recently received or are anticipating receiving a new assessment this year, you have the opportunity to exercise your rights by appealing the new assessment.
When you appeal your property tax assessment, you are challenging the value that is placed on your home by the State.
How does the government determine how much your home is worth? According to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (DAT) web site (www.dat.state.md.us), they oversee over two million property accounts. The state employs trained appraisers to evaluate and appraise every property. These appraisers use standard appraisal techniques to determine the value of your home.
Every property is re-evaluated every three years. If there is a change of value, there is three year phase in period for the value to be used as a tax base. To see how the assessor determined your home’s value, you can obtain a copy of the assessor’s worksheet at the local assessment office, which is located at 51 Monroe Street (4th Floor) Rockville, MD.
The appeal process begins by first receiving your new tax assessment. If you are satisfied with the value place on your home, there is nothing for you to do except pay the bill. However, if you are dissatisfied with the assessment, you have forty-five days to file an appeal.
The appeal is first heard at the Supervisor’s level, which allows you to discuss the assessment with an assessor. At this time, it is wise to obtain the assessment worksheet from the local assessment office (indicated above). You can obtain the worksheet for your home at no cost, and for a fee you can obtain the worksheets for the comparables used by the assessor. There will be an informal hearing to review all the information. After the hearing, a “final notice” is issued.
If you remained dissatisfied with the “final notice”, you have thirty days to appeal to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board (PTAAB). The board is not a part of the DAT; the board is comprised of local residents who have been appointed by the Governor. The PTAAB conducts an informal hearing to review all the relevant information. The board will issue a notice of decision to all parties involved.
If your dissatisfaction continues, you have thirty days to appeal to the Maryland Tax Court (MTC). In MTC, you are given the opportunity to present your case. The MTC will issue a decision based on the information presented.
Although MTC is the last administrative step in the appeal process, you can appeal the MTC decision to the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court reviews the case to determine if there were any legal errors in the process.
Hopefully, by following the process you will at least have the satisfaction of exercising your rights, and possibly being successful in appealing your property tax assessment. For more information about the appeal process, and to view the Property Owner’s Bill of Rights, visit the DAT website (www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/hog.html).
This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of March 5, 2007. Copyright (c) 2007 Dan Krell.