SDAT Audit Raises Issues with Assessments, Tax Credits

In a recent audit of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, the Department of Legislative Services’ Office of Legislative Audits found a number of problems with the way the Department performs its property assessment and tax credit functions.  Maryland’s counties rely on SDAT to provide property assessment and tax credit information to ensure property tax bills are sent correctly to homeowners across the state in July of each year.

From the article:

The state Assessments and Taxation Department hasn’t performed regular physical inspections of individual properties to support property assessments as required by state law for “many years,” legislative auditors found.

The department also did not audit or review business personal property tax returns or homeowner tax credits, and it doesn’t perform sufficient data matches to look for businesses who fail to file personal-property tax returns, according to an audit report released last month.

Other findings in the audit include:
  • real property values established by DAT’s assessors were not sufficiently documented and values were not double checked;
  • many employees whose job duties do not entail changing tax-property data can make changes to those data;
  • DAT needs to strengthen its computer network’s general controls, including updating its disaster-recovery plan;
  • DAT paid certain contractors without assuring billings were proper and goods and services were actually received and accepted;
  • and cash-receipts controls weren’t strong enough to assure all receipts were deposited.
In its response, SDAT agreed with most of the findings indicating that “budget and staffing reductions caused some of them.” SDAT also described how it plans to fix the problems.