MM&C Attorneys Successfully Contest Application of “Rain Tax” in Montgomery County, Maryland


Miller, Miller & Canby attorneys James L. Thompson and Diane E. Feuerherd have successfully contested the application of Montgomery County’s Water Quality Protection Charge (often referred to as a “Rain Tax”) on behalf of a property owner in Gaithersburg, MD. After a hearing before the Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Nelson Rupp held that the tax was invalid due to its inconsistency with the State’s enabling statute and is invalid as applied to the client, who already treats 100% of the storm water on his property (and surrounding properties as well). This opinion effectively invalidates the methodology used in Montgomery County to assess the “Rain Tax.”

“The state law requires Montgomery County to assess its Water Quality Protection Charge based on what stormwater management services it provides to the property,” explained Miller, Miller & Canby attorney, Diane E. Feuerherd.  “For our client, there was no need for county services on our client’s property.  Our client had installed and continues to maintain regional ponds that collect and treat stormwater runoff from his own property, as well as surrounding properties.  Our client is a staunch supporter of environmental efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay, but to be charged a tax, in addition to what he has already done and continues to do, does not make sense.”    

Miller, Miller & Canby Partner, James L. Thompson, noted, “The principle of fairness has won the day.”  

If you have questions about the application of the Water Quality Protection Charge to your property, contact James L. Thompson and Diane E. Feuerherd, who continue to advocate for fair, equitable and transparent assessments of county charges, including the “rain tax,” to their clients.

Click the download attachment link below to view the July 22, 2015 Daily Record article covering the decision.

Click here
to view prior articles outlining the "rain tax" as well as MM&C's successful case summary of Montgomery County's "Rain Tax".

Miller, Miller & Canby has more than 60 years of tax litigation and trial experience. Our goal is to provide value to clients, which we define as the maximum savings of tax dollars at the earliest possible stage in the appeal process. We are skilled and tenacious advocates, with a proven track record of success for our clients. Click here to learn more about our litigation practice.


 





How New State Legislation May Impact Montgomery County’s “Rain Tax”


This year, the Maryland General Assembly pursued several initiatives to curb or modify the “rain tax” – a state mandate compelling Montgomery County to collect a stormwater remediation fee from nearly-all of its property owners. Ultimately, the state legislature passed and Governor Hogan approved a new law (Senate Bill 863, now Chapter 124) that seeks to allow for, but no longer compel, the rain tax. A major change that may impact Montgomery County is that unlike the prior state mandate, this new law enables the county to collect the rain tax (known as the Water Quality Protection Charge) from properties owned by the State of Maryland or state agencies, so long as the county similarly pays the charge for county-owned properties. Any county action to modify the charge in light of the state law will have to wait until July 1, 2015, when the state law is formally enacted and effective.

While it is significant that the new state law no longer compels local governments to assess the rain tax, there is no indication that Montgomery County will stop assessing its charge, as it is the major revenue source for stormwater management and remediation initiatives. Nonetheless, the new law continues to require the County to base (and thereby limit) its charge on the share of county stormwater management services provided to the property, and to reduce the charge by a credit for a property owner’s own stormwater management initiatives, such as a pond or rain garden.

After successfully challenging the Montgomery County Water Quality Protection Charge (also known as the “rain tax”), MM&C litigation attorneys James L. Thompson and Diane E. Feuerherd continue to advocate for fair, equitable and transparent assessments of county charges, including the “rain tax,” to their clients. 

Click here to view prior articles outlining the "rain tax" as well as MM&C's successful case summary of Montgomery County's "Rain Tax".

Miller, Miller & Canby has more than 60 years of tax litigation and trial experience. Our goal is to provide value to clients, which we define as the maximum savings of tax dollars at the earliest possible stage in the appeal process. We are skilled and tenacious advocates, with a proven track record of success for our clients. Click here to learn more about our litigation practice.





Montgomery County's "Rain Tax" Update


In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly mandated that nine counties, including Montgomery County, and Baltimore City collect an annual stormwater remediation fee - the "rain tax" - from most nongovernmental property owners.  Since then, this state mandate has been met with legal and political pushback.  This session, before the state legislature are three initiatives to repeal or modify the rain tax mandate:

(1)    House Bill 874 (Senate Bill 42), to repeal the state mandate in its entirety.

(2)    House Bill 481 (Senate Bill 588), introduced on behalf of the Administration of Governor Larry Hogan, also to repeal the state mandate in its entirety.

(3)    Senate Bill 863, sponsored by Senate President Mike Miller and 30 other senators, this bill attempts to reach a compromise by modifying the compulsion of the state mandate into a permissive fee.  Counties subject to this legislation, in place of the state mandate, may but are not obligated to impose a fee on property owners and may charge state government properties, subject to certain conditions.
Last week, the House of Delegates' Environment & Transportation Committee rendered unfavorable reports against House Bills 874 and 481, effectively ending this legislation. Senate Bill 863 will soon reach the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs for similar evaluation.

At the local level, following the successful appeal brought before the Board of Appeals for Montgomery County by Miller, Miller & Canby attorneys James L. Thompson and Diane E. Feuerherd, the Montgomery County Council's T&E Committee (Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee) recently conveyed, to the Department of Environmental Protection, the concerns and recommendations to review the County's Water Quality Protection Charge.  Click here to view the Memorandum.

Miller, Miller & Canby has more than 60 years of tax litigation and trial experience.  Our goal is to provide value to clients, which we define as the maximum savings of tax dollars at the earliest possible stage in the appeal process. We are skilled and tenacious advocates, with a proven track record of success for our clients.  Click here to learn more about our litigation practice.





MM&C Litigators Successfully Challenge Montgomery County’s "Rain Tax"


Miller, Miller & Canby litigation attorneys James L. Thompson and Diane E. Feuerherd successfully challenged Montgomery County’s calculation of the Water Quality Protection Charge, also known as the “rain tax”, on behalf of a commercial property owner with multiple properties in the area.  

The rain tax, which is administered by the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), is a new line item included on the property tax bills of a majority of commercial property owners.  In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly enacted legislation directing the County to collect the rain tax in an amount that is based on the County’s share of stormwater management services provided to the property, but also to credit the property owner for the investment in private stormwater management facilities on the property.  

In the case of Miller, Miller & Canby’s client, the County assessed the rain tax, without regard to this property owner’s long track record of private stormwater management and compliance. Even though the property’s two regional ponds entitled the owner to a minimum credit of 50%, the County assessed a penalty, cutting the property owner’s credit in half, because the owner failed to submit cost prohibitive engineering calculations with its credit application – a DEP requirement not authorized by the County statutory or regulatory provisions. The Board of Appeals for Montgomery County, ruling in favor of Miller, Miller & Canby’s client and ordering that the DEP remove the 50% credit reduction, found “that the County lacked the authority to reduce the Appellant’s credit by half for failure to submit these calculations.”   

Notwithstanding this initial success, Miller, Miller & Canby expects to continue its client’s appeal of the inequity of the rain tax and the County’s failure to comply with the state law to obtain the full credit against the rain tax for its client.

Miller, Miller & Canby has more than 60 years of tax litigation and trial experience.  Our goal is to provide value to clients, which we define as the maximum savings of tax dollars at the earliest possible stage in the appeal process. We are skilled and tenacious advocates, with a proven track record of success for our clients.  Click here to learn more about our litigation practice.

Our goal is to provide value to clients, which we define as the maximum savings of tax dollars at the earliest possible stage in the appeal process. Due to our many successes with property tax assessment appeals, including in the Maryland Tax Court, the firm has earned the respect of the assessors for its expertise and litigation skills. - See more at: http://www.millermillercanby.com/practice-area-detail.cfm?areaname=Tax%20Litigation#sthash.RGLOx46U.dpuf