Baltimore Leaders Urge Homeowners to Apply For Property Tax Credit

    Time is running out to apply for the Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program and local leaders are urging Baltimore residents to apply by the Oct. 1 deadline.

    At a Tuesday press conference, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott (D) said the tax credit credit helps to keep low-income residents in their homes, and said city residents shouldn’t delay applying for the program.

    “We don’t want anyone to leave these dollars on the table,” Scott said. “We know that everyone is hurting because of the fallout from this pandemic, and we want to keep people in their homes so that they can pass their home to the next generation to create generational wealth in families and communities throughout Baltimore.”

    To qualify for the tax credit program, applicants must own their primary residence and have a gross household income of less than $60,000 annually. The credit is based on how much property taxes exceed a percentage of a household’s income, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website.

    For instance, an eligible household with a combined income of $20,000 would have a tax limit of $780, according to the Department of Assessments and Taxation. A household with that income would pay just $780 and receive a credit for the rest of the property tax bill.

    City Councilmember Odette Ramos (D), who has long pushed to reform the city’s tax sale process, said the Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit is a way to keep city residents out of foreclosure and tax sales.

    “Housing instability is the cause for so many other issues we have in our city,” Ramos said. “Avoiding tax sale foreclosure is an important part of our strategy.”

    Allison Harris, director of the Maryland Pro Bono Resource Center’s Home Preservation Project, said the overwhelming majority of her team’s clients at tax sale prevention sale clinics in Baltimore are Black. Also, roughly three quarters of their clients are seniors and half have disabilities, Harris said.

    The pandemic complicated some homeowners’ efforts to apply for the tax credit last year, she said.

    “This spring, I had several clients who landed on the tax sale list for the first time because they had not received the homeowners property tax credit in 2020, unlike in years past, for pandemic-related reasons,” Harris said.

    City officials said they hope the property tax credit will help stem the city’s years-long decline in homeownership. An Abell Foundation report last year found that, from 2007 to 2017, the homeownership rate in Baltimore fell from 51% to 47%, and the Black homeownership rate fell from 45% to 42%.

    Homeowners looking to apply for the tax credit can do so online, at Community Action Partnership centers or at any Enoch Pratt Free Library location. They can also call the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition’s Securing Older Adult Resources Program (SOAR) tax credit hotline at 443-961-6220.

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    Bennett Leckrone
    Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.