The State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) recently formed a workgroup to examine issues related to the property assessment process for both real and personal property and tax credit programs for which the Department is responsible for calculating property tax credits and exemptions. The workgroup, which is required by SB 172, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2014, will look specifically at the following issues:
- Whether a physical exterior inspection of each property is necessary to properly assess real property for tax purposes;
- The Department’s ability to timely and adequately maintain changes in property status that may occur throughout the year and incorporate new properties in the system of accounts;
- The extent of discrepancies in the calculation of certain tax credits and exemptions and approaches for improving accuracy; and
- The feasibility of, and any legal impediments to, contracting with a third-party vendor to perform periodic audits of the property tax credit and exemption programs for which the Department calculates the credit or exemption or of other functions for which an external evaluation may provide greater accuracy.
The workgroup is composed of members representing MACo, the Maryland Municipal League, Baltimore City, and the Maryland Departments of Information Technology and Business and Economic Development. MACo’s representatives include:
- Joseph Beach, Director of Finance, Montgomery County
- Jason Bennett, Director of Finance, Allegany County
- Kathryn Hewitt, Treasurer, Harford County
- Linda Watts, Assistant Director Finance, Office of Business Management and Customer Service, Howard County
During the first meeting, held on June 17, the workgroup discussed specific items to examine in each of these areas and will likely be broken into subcommittees to explore these issues further and make recommendations. Representatives on the workgroup will be able to bring in additional staff as necessary to discuss these important issues.
A full schedule of meetings has not yet been set, but the next meeting will likely be held towards the end of July. During this meeting, the workgroup anticipates hearing from vendors offering technology to assist with the inspection of properties and auditing services.