Right hand, meet left hand (property tax edition)
In Maryland, the state assesses property for taxation purposes, but it's the jurisdictions that do the collecting. The upside is that the people trying to determine what your property is worth are not the same people demanding you pay up.
The downside? Ditto.
Baltimore resident Bill Hopkins shared his experience of interagency frustration recently. Here's his story:
In September 2009 I went through the process of appealing my city Real Property Tax Assessment and was granted a 25% reduction…hooray!
The process was convenient and fair and efficient, I thought. Bravo State of Maryland Tax Assessment Appeal Board (6 St Paul St. Suite 301).
July 1, 2010 I received my tax bill from the City of Baltimore for July 1,2010-June 30th, 2011. Guess what? No tax assessment reduction.
So I called the State office 410-767-8455 and they said…”can’t help you, it’s not our job to follow up on these matters, you’ll have to contact the city”.
So I called the phone number 410-396-3987 on the City Tax Assessment statement……….several times……..”push 6 to talk to a clerk”…….good luck with that….no one ever picks up the phone. It rings forever.
So, I get in my car and drive over to the City tax office at 200 Holiday St and wait, not too long, to speak with a very nice clerk who checked her records and said “we do not have any report from the state that your assessment has changed, we can’t do anything, you’ll have to get it straightened out with the state”
Are you kidding me?
Hopkins (no relation to me) says he then drove to the state assessment office in the city and talked to a "very nice" employee who told him she would make sure the city got his report. "Again," as she put it.
Owen C. Charles, supervisor of assessments in Baltimore, said his office certainly should follow up with the city if a property owner runs into a problem like Hopkins did. (He offered to look into Hopkins' case personally, if the homeowner wanted him to do so.)
I chatted recently with Larry Clark, director of professional development at the International Association of Assessing Officers, and it's his understanding that most jurisdictions handle both assessment and tax collection. Of course, "it's not unusual for the state revenue department to handle the valuation of something such as a railroad or a large utility that would cover several jurisdictions," he said.
Which way would you prefer -- assessments and tax collection together, or apart?