Legislation Examines Baltimore City’s Property Tax Structure

In an effort to prevent Baltimore City residents and businesses from leaving, Delegate Maggie McIntosh recently introduced legislation aiming to address the potential inequities in the City’s property tax assessment structure.  A February 7 article from The Baltimore Sun reported on such measures:

One measure would let longtime Baltimore homeowners transfer their Homestead Tax Credit if they want to buy another place in the city.  Another would have the state hire six more assessors to take a closer look at assessments in the city, where McIntosh contends Maryland’s computerized “mass appraisal” system can’t catch inadvertent or deliberate misclassifications of properties for tax purposes.

Yet another bill would require all churches, universities and other charitable or nonprofit organizations to certify that all the property they own is still being used for tax-exempt purposes. One reason tax rates are high in the city, she noted, is that roughly one-third of all the city’s real estate is exempt from taxation.

The other two bills would launch studies of ways to possibly reduce the city’s tax rate while also looking to see if residential, rental and commercial properties are assessed equitably. McIntosh said she hoped the studies would show how the city might lower tax rates without sacrificing needed revenue.

While a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stated that she supports some of these measures, City officials are still studying the fiscal impact of allowing homeowners to transfer their Homestead Tax Credits.  This measure could result in a loss of revenue for the City.  However, Delegate McIntosh believes that any loss in revenue would be offset by an increase in home sales.