Truth in taxing Property assessments: Complicated process needlessly confuses homeowners.

February 21, 1997

FINALLY A PAINLESS way to lower taxes! House Speaker Casper R. Taylor of Cumberland wants to chop property tax rates 60 percent -- at no cost to either state or local budgets. But before local home owners count their savings, beware. There are no savings.

Mr. Taylor isn't trying to lower property tax payments. He wants to simplify a confusing system for computing property tax bills.

Maryland's current system is so convoluted that few know how to calculate their property tax bill. His proposal ends the confusion. It also would end the false impression that property taxes here are sky-high compared with other neighboring counties. For instance, Fairfax County, Va., boasts a tax rate of $1.23 per $100 of assessed value compared with Montgomery County's $2.60 rate. But Fairfax' assessments are based on 100 percent of market value, Montgomery's are based on 40 percent.

Mr. Taylor would peg all assessments to 100 percent of market value. Suddenly, Montgomery's tax rate would fall to $1.04, far below Fairfax' comparable rate. Similarly, Baltimore County's $2.855 property tax rate would drop to $1.142; Harford County's $2.73 rate would drop to $1.092; Carroll County would go from $2.62 to $1.048; Howard County from $2.59 to $1.036; Anne Arundel from $2.38 to 95.2 cents, and Baltimore City from $5.85 to $2.34.

Any homeowner could easily take his or her assessed market value, multiply by the county or city rate and divide by 100. Voila!

It is a sensible step. Legislators should embrace Mr. Taylor's truth in taxing bill.

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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