Tax relief available for storm damage

MAILBAG

October 26, 2003

Owners of real property damaged by last month's Tropical Storm Isabel could be eligible for property tax abatement and refunds.

To qualify for property tax relief, all or part of the property must be destroyed or rendered uninhabitable for a substantial period of time. Examples are a destroyed deck or outbuilding that is not repaired or replaced; a finished basement made unusable by flooding; or an entire house that has been structurally damaged by the storm.

Where the value of all or part of real property is destroyed by a hurricane, fire or other casualty, the property owner is entitled to ask for the tax assessment to be reduced. To justify tax relief, the damage must be substantial and beyond quick repair.

A homeowner who promptly replaces a storm-damaged deck will not receive tax abatement, because there is no real loss in property value. But if the homeowner elects not to replace the deck, the property tax assessment might be reduced.

Homeowners who think they might be entitled to a lower assessment because of damage caused by Isabel or other casualty should contact the State Department of Assessments and Taxation in the county where the property is situated.

Owners of properties in Anne Arundel County can call 410-974-5720; in Baltimore County, 410-512-4905.

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