By Adam Pagnucco.
Last fall, I wrote about a bombshell General Assembly audit of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation which found that the agency had miscalculated property taxes for thousands of MoCo home owners. As a result, some home owners had been overcharged property taxes for years. The agency’s response was to deny that its prior practice was inaccurate but also to change its methodology going forward. Overcharged home owners would then get no refunds for past overpayments.
That wasn’t good enough for Senator Craig Zucker (D-14) and Delegate Al Carr (D-18), who each represent parts of Montgomery County. They introduced legislation that would enshrine the new tax calculation methodology in law and would provide three years of refunds to affected home owners. One of the best parts of the bill is that the burden is placed on the state, not the home owners, to calculate and apply the refunds. The fiscal note states:
For taxable years beginning after June 30, 2017, but before July 1, 2021, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) must determine whether a homeowner is owed a refund of property taxes paid by the homeowner as a result of the changes made to the calculation of the homeowners’ property tax credit by the bill and if so, the amount of the refund owed.
SDAT must notify the homeowner and the county within which the homeowner’s dwelling is located of the amount of the refund. Upon certification by SDAT, the Comptroller must pay eligible homeowners the amount of the refund from the Local Reserve Account.
Every MoCo state senator co-sponsored the bill. MoCo delegates co-sponsoring the house version include Carr (the lead sponsor), Charlotte Crutchfield (D-19), Julie Palakovich Carr (D-17) and Jared Solomon (D-18). Because the problem also affected Baltimore City, several city lawmakers co-sponsored the bill as did a number of Republicans.
The bill’s senate version passed the senate on a unanimous 47-0 vote yesterday. It now proceeds to the House Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by MoCo Delegate Anne Kaiser (D-14). Please look favorably on this bill, Delegate Kaiser!
Thank you to Senator Zucker, Delegate Carr and all others who are standing up for their constituents by supporting this legislation.