Appealing a property assessment on an off-year
If you know that Maryland reassesses properties once every three years for purposes of taxation, you probably also know that property owners can appeal when they get the reassessment notice in the mail.
But did you know you can appeal on the off-years, too?
It's a "petition for review," and -- as you might imagine -- more people have been sending them into the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation since the housing bubble popped. Most people's homes are worth less now than they were a year or two ago, after all.
You can read about the off-cycle appeals in today's story. Here's the lowdown on how they work.
Deadline to file is Jan. 1 for the following July 1 tax bill. (One exception: If you buy a property in the first half of the year, you can petition to have the assessment reviewed for the tax year beginning that July -- just get your application in within 60 days of the purchase.) Instructions, including appeal form, can be found here. The completed form goes to your local assessment office.
You can ask for a hearing, or you can just ask the state to take another look. Joseph Glorioso, supervisor of assessments in Anne Arundel County, kindly let me take over his office for an hour so I could read a stack of petitions and get a feel for what they're like. Plenty of people simply assert that the assessed value is too high, thank you very much, and sign their name.
But some take the recommended step of offering supporting evidence. One homeowner included a long list of recent sales in his neighborhood and noted that asking prices were even lower than the sales prices.
Here's what the state suggests if you're going to appeal:
* Focus on those points that affect the value of your property.
* Indicate why the Total New Market Value does not reflect the market value of the property.
* Identify any mathematical errors on the worksheet or inaccurate information describing the characteristics of the property (such as the number of bathrooms, fireplaces, etc.).
* Provide examples of sales of comparable properties which support your findings as to the value of the property.
* Avoid the following issues since they are not relevant to the value under appeal: comparison to past values, percent of increase, additional metropolitan costs, the amount of the tax bill, properties in other taxing jurisdictions, and services rendered or not rendered.
The state's petition form includes a warning that an appeal could potentially end with an increased assessment. But Henry Sikorski, state supervisor of assessments, told me that the law doesn't allow that in cases of residential property, only for commercial. (The regulation is here, in case you'd like confirmation.)
Remember, if you don't get anywhere with your initial foray -- and you're sure you're right -- you can appeal the decision to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board, and from there to the Maryland Tax Court.
Have you ever put in a petition for review? How did it go?