Tax Assessments See Increase in Urbana

Photo | Brent Pernak, Cruising Altitude Photography LLC Area residential assessments went up about 10 percent in Urbana.

Photo | Brent Pernak, Cruising Altitude Photography LLC
Area residential assessments went up about 10 percent in Urbana.

Two days after Christmas, the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) sent out their reassessments of nearly 700,000 residential and commercial properties across the state and Urbana residents saw a noticeable increase.

Area residential assessments went up about 10 percent in Urbana, but any increases are divided over a three-year period, so property owners aren’t hit with the full amount the first year, said David Etter, SDAT’s Frederick supervisor of assessment.

The county’s assessments are done in three sections triennially with the groups determined by election districts. This year’s assessment, the southern and eastern portions of the county, include Urbana, Buckeystown, Jefferson, Petersville, Brunswick, New Market and Woodville/Mount Airy.

Statewide, the overall increase for “Group 1” properties was 9.1 percent which makes it the first reassessment since 2008 where all 23 counties and Baltimore City saw increases. The average increase in value was 8.2 percent for residential homes and 12.5 percent for commercial properties since they were last assessed in 2016. Nearly 88 percent of Group 1 residential properties saw an increase in property value.

The county’s Group 1 residential homes saw an overall 8.6 percent increase while commercial properties rose by 15.8 percent. The two combined shows an increase of 10 percent in assessments.

“By law, we have to reassess every three years so people are paying a fair amount for their taxes based upon a true market value of the property,” Etter said.

When assessing residential properties, SDAT takes a number of factors into consideration including depreciation on older homes, whether improvements such as large additions have been made, what it would cost to rebuild the home and what similar homes in the area have sold for recently.

For those who wish to appeal their assessment, residents have 45 days from when the notices were mailed, which makes this year’s deadline Feb. 11. Residents may appeal in writing, come to the Frederick office on Spectrum Drive or take part in a phone hearing. Each option is described on the back of assessments.

“They should bring anything they think would support their opinion of value,” Etter said. “We are not here to discuss taxes. We are talking about value. If they have sales of similar type homes to theirs that they want to show us or it could be a condition issue with their property, something to that effect. Something we may not even know about if it is to the interior of the home. Anything they think could influence the value of the property, particularly sales of similar type homes in the area. The more recent and similar (homes), the better.”

Residents may also consider two options. The Homeowners’ Tax Credit is a state program allowing credits against the homeowner’s property tax bill if the property taxes exceed a fixed percentage of the person’s gross income. A person must own or have a legal interest in the property, it needs to be their primary residence, your net worth must not exceed $200,000 and your combined household income may not exceed $60,000. Homeowners must apply for the credit annually.

The Homestead Tax Credit limits the principal residence’s taxable assessment from increasing by more than a certain  percentage each year regardless of their income level. Statewide legislation caps the increase at no more than 10 percent per year, but Frederick’s rate is 5 percent. The one-time application has a number of requirements looked at during the previous tax year including the property was not transferred to new owners, the owners did not request new zoning and the dwelling must be the owner’s primary home.

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