In defense of the homestead credit
A reader named Erich wrote in the other day to defend the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which acts as a cap on spiraling property-tax bills for homeowners but as a side effect leaves neighbors in similar homes with very different bills to pay.
A former Baltimore resident, Erich bought in Pasadena in 2007 and homes values have only fallen since. So he says he isn't a big homestead recipient -- he isn't getting a break from the credit at all. But he likes the idea that his bill will be capped if assessed values ever do go up beyond Anne Arundel County's 2 percent-a-year limit.
Here's what he wrote:
I completely disagree with the argument that there is something wrong with the Homestead credit simply because two neighbors with similar houses pay extremely different tax amounts. So what? When you purchase a house your taxes are listed on the settlement statement, it's not something the state/city surprises you with. The Homestead credit is there to protect homeowners from drastic changes in their tax bills based on the revolving property tax assessments that happen every 3 years. ... So owners that buy at a certain time and lock in the credit should be able to get that smooth curve in their tax bills. ...
In the 'robbing peter to pay paul' example, it's not transferring tax burden from one house to another because the newer neighbor also gets the tax credit, it just happens to be on a higher assessed value. ... As far as 'double dippers' and landlords getting the credit, go after them, they are breaking the law.