$576,000 in state inheritance taxes due on Smith estate 7.5% rate in effect in 1939 is assessed

September 18, 1997|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,STAFF WRITER

The executors of Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith's estate will have to pay $576,000 in state inheritance taxes on her 300-acre property on Route 175 in east Columbia, estimated to be worth $7.68 million.

The state attorney general's office has ruled that the property will be taxed at the 7.5 percent tax rate in effect when her father, Henry E. Smith, died in 1939. The taxes are due in October.

That bill and federal estate taxes that could be as high as 55 percent will put the two heirs under more pressure to develop the land, some area residents and county officials say.

"The high taxes will put pressure on her heirs to sell the property to pay the taxes," said Wanda Hurt, a Columbia Council member from Owen Brown village. "Whoever offers the best dollar will have the best chance of getting the land."

Smith died in February. Because she never married and had no children and no will, the property will go to two of her father's relatives, Tabi Williamson of Eureka, Calif., and Carolyn Smith of Baltimore. What they plan to do with the undeveloped land less )) than a mile from Town Center remains unclear.

Last week, County Executive Charles I. Ecker and County Council members discussed a possible purchase of the land, which some officials would like to see turned into a park.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, a Democrat whose east Columbia district includes the farm, told the group that he has talked to Gov. Parris N. Glendening about the possibility of a $4 million state grant to help the county purchase the property.

Gray suggested that the county and some local nonprofit groups -- perhaps including the Columbia Association -- could commit the rest of the money needed to make a serious offer.

Hurt said no one had approached the association, which is in the middle of planning its budget. "If they want us in, we better be at the table," Hurt said.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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