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Assessment Falls, But Tax May Rise!

If you’re a property owner, you probably have been delighted recently seeing your property assessment to go down. Like many, you may have received property tax assessments from the local government.
You’re not alone – your joy has been shared by many – take Cindy Branigin
When the envelope arrived, Cindy Branigin said, she closed her eyes and hoped for the best. After nearly 15 years in her Southern Maryland home, the arrival of her property tax assessment had become a gut-wrenching ritual. This time, Branigin said, she was pleasantly surprised. The assessment of her home had dropped by $50,000.
According to statistics, assessed values of residential property fell 27 percent in Prince George’s (28percent in Charles County, 19 percent in Montgomery).
 
Overall, in the state of Maryland, the residential assessments is down nearly 20 percent.

Not so fast! – though the assessment has fallen, property taxes may not fall accordingly – in fact it may actually increase.

 “We may have to use a combination of service reductions and tax rate and fee increases.” –said Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan.
In Maryland, many homeowners are paying taxes on only a fraction of the assessed value because of the state’s Homestead Tax Credit program, which caps the amount of increase that can be taxed each year. During the housing boom, that protected homeowners from sudden jumps in their tax bills.
For example, Charles Co residents who saw their homes values went double in 2006 did not pay double in taxes. They paid closer to a 21 percent increase over three years. So increases from 2006 will still show up in homeowners’ August tax bill and the following bills until the bills catch up to the assessed value.
[Update] Unlike in a few other counties in the DC metro area, it looks like the property tax will actually go down in our area. Please see Bob Catlin’s comment below.
 
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4 Comments to “Assessment Falls, But Tax May Rise!”

  1. By Joe Kozlak, February 22, 2010 @ 3:08 am

    This is such a excellent post. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

  2. By Robert Catlin, February 22, 2010 @ 4:46 am

    In Prince George’s County, Park and Planning’s Property Tax is not subject to the Homestead Credit. As a result this component of a owner occupied home’s property tax will go down a significant amount when they pay their property tax in the fall. The MNCPPC decrease will generally be in the range of $240-$300. While some other components of the 2010 property tax will increase because of the increased assessments that certain tax components are based upon, these increases should only amount to, at most, about 1/3 of the decrease.

  3. By Fazlul Kabir, February 22, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

    Thanks Bob for the piece on the homestead tax in our county.