Last week, the Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) issued new Assessment Notices to owners of one-third of all commercial properties in Maryland. As expected, the improving economy caused property values to increase in almost every county. Compared with the assessments of the same properties from three years ago, there was an 18.6% increase in valuations statewide. In some counties, however, the rise was more dramatic than others. In Montgomery County, for instance, commercial property assessments soared up 34% from 2012. In Frederick County, the increase was just over 12%. Here is a recap of Maryland commercial property assessment increases for several jurisdictions:
Montgomery County 34.4%
Baltimore City 14.4%
Anne Arundel County 13.8%
Prince George’s County 13.8%
Howard County 13.4%
Frederick County 12.3%
Washington County 11.8%
Baltimore County 10.3%
Property owners have 45 days from the date of the Assessment Notice to file an appeal of these new assessments. The “first-level” appeal allows the owner the opportunity to convince the assessor that the assessment is incorrect. If the assessor refuses to reduce the assessment, the owner may file a further appeal within 30 days to the local Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB). The hearing before PTAAB is similar to a trial with each side given the chance to present his or her case with documentary evidence and witness testimony. The Board consists of three local residents of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. Board members typically ask questions throughout the hearing and probe the owner and the assessor about their opinion of fair market value and the supporting reasons. The Board then issues a written decision, usually within about two weeks, although it has up to 30 days by statute. If the property owner is still dissatisfied, another appeal may be filed to the Maryland Tax Court in Baltimore.
Miller, Miller & Canby has been handling assessment appeals of various types of commercial properties in Maryland for more than 30 years. In 2014, we obtained over $20,000,000 in property assessment reductions for our clients. Our litigation attorneys regularly represent clients at the assessor level, before the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB) and in the Maryland Tax Court. We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, retail stores, industrial sites, warehouses, apartment buildings and land at various stages of development.
Michael Campbell is a partner in the litigation practice of Miller, Miller & Canby. In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals. Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance. For more information about the firm’s property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.