A taxing problem

Our view: Oops won't do

April 10, 2008

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Baltimore property owners have paid more than they legally owed to the special taxing districts in which they live. A mistake years ago by city officials calculating the special benefits tax is the culprit here. And while City Hall may not be legally responsible for the mix-up, it's not blameless.

Some property owners may demand a refund, but they should think twice.

The special surtaxes, which are computed and collected by the city for community benefit districts, have been spent on cleaner streets, better security and other neighborhood improvements. In short, good causes.

Also, the problem has now been corrected and property owners in the Charles Village and Midtown districts who feared they would get hit with a higher tax because of increased assessments shouldn't worry. A break is in the offing and should be reflected in this year's tax bill.

Property owners who insist on a refund are certainly entitled to it. The mistake originated at City Hall, and even though the special taxing districts received the money and used it, City Hall should take the lead in helping work out an amicable settlement between the districts and residents.

A rebate, a tax credit - be creative.

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