Nearly 300 Baltimore City homeowners are seeing a significant increase in their property taxes as a result of flawed calculations by the state in computing the Historic Renovation Tax Credit.
As a result of the errors, local homeowners have been sent tax bills containing mistakes by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
“When people purchased these homes over the past couple of years, they were given a worksheet that predicted what their tax burden would be as a result of the credit, “ Councilman Bill Henry told the AFRO. “The calculations the state did were incorrect, so their worksheets reflected smaller annual payments than what is now required.”
So far, some of the tax increases have been small, however some homeowners have seen increases as much as $600, which Henry said is too much. “People made their decision to buy based on what they thought their monthly burden would be, now that is larger,” he said.
The city is hoping residents who bought into Baltimore for a tax break won’t be penalized because this was a mistake made by the state.
According to the city’s website, finance.baltimorecity.gov, the program was designed to encourage preservation and investments in historic properties. It is a 10-year program where money is allotted to increase the value of historic neighborhoods and attract residents to Baltimore City.
Owen C. Charles, deputy director of the State Department of Assessment and Taxation, declined to comment on the inflated taxes because, he said, “the city has yet to discuss the nature of those errors with me or my department,” he said. “I have received calls from homeowners with some concerns about this matter, but because I don’t know the nature of the errors, I couldn’t comment.”
“The state government made a mistake, than it’s really the state’s responsibility—the city shouldn’t have to eat smaller of tax revenue because the state put a lower number on a piece of paper, in this case 314 pieces of paper,” Henry told the AFRO.
Councilman James Kraft, who represents District 1, which covers the Canton, Fells Point, Upper Fells Point, Butchers Hill and Patterson Park areas, said he has heard complaints from residents primarily from homeowners in the Canton, Fells Point, Upper Fells Point and Butchers Hill neighborhoods.
During an Aug. 12 city council meeting, Kraft said, “it’s ridiculous and unfair that people would have to pay more.”
Henry said some homeowners have seen a spike in their payments, which started July 1—the beginning of the fiscal year. He said this is the “council formally saying to the state that we need you to look at this.”
“People were trying to reinvest in Baltimore and they should not be penalized,” Henry said. “It doesn’t have to be a low-income or fixed budget situation, an extra $500 per month, is not okay.”