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NEWS
October 1, 2013
Joan Pratt is still comptroller of the City of Baltimore, though the only time I hear about her is some argument regarding a telephone system. Why wasn't her name mentioned in your recent article about undercharging the owners of commercial properties in the city by more than $700,000 because of errors in calculating tax breaks ( "Errors cut tax bill on tower owned by Angelos," Sept. 27)? What does the comptroller do? She is supposed to be responsible for the effective and efficient fiscal management of the city.
ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun | September 2, 2014
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has appointed a three-member panel to distribute up to $3 million to the owners of historic properties whose tax bills in coming years will be higher than what government officials told them to expect. Retired Baltimore City Circuit Judge  John M.  Glynn, City Auditor Robert McCarty, and City Solicitor George Nilson will decide which owners will get the checks, which will cover portions of up to nine years of future tax bills. About 75 property owners submitted applications that could make them eligible to receive the checks, city officials said.
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NEWS
May 2, 2012
While largely ignoring the trial of former U.S. Senator John Edwards, The Sun apparently found more breaking, vital news in Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager getting a less than $300 tax break on their second home/rental property while they live in permanent "digs in Manhattan" ("Bush kin gone but get homestead tax credit," May 1). In addition, there were lengthy details about their exact Baltimore property assessment and rental fees. Now that's breaking news. Are you kidding me?
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater and Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun | May 5, 2014
Some future city workers will receive a 401(k)-style retirement plan rather than traditional pensions under a sweeping plan approved Monday by the City Council. The legislation - the result of a deal struck by Baltimore unions and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake - was stalled in a council committee for nearly a year until the mayor and union leader Glenard S. Middleton reached what both sides called a compromise. Rawlings-Blake initially called for all new municipal workers to be placed in a 401(k)
NEWS
April 11, 2012
In a nutshell, Baltimore City is demanding immediate repayment of tax credits it erroneously gave to taxpayers, often over a period of several years ("City homeowners given 30 days to repay tax credits they didn't request," April 8). We must refund their mistakes right now, or else. This is the same Baltimore City that would seize your house for non payment of water bills that were wildly inaccurate. And these mistakes were not realized until private enterprise (The Baltimore Sun) pointed them out. No wonder we lack respect for and distrust the government.
BUSINESS
By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun | February 5, 2012
Death and taxes might be certain, but the latter changes each year. Even without major tax legislation — thanks, political gridlock — taxpayers need to be aware of even slight adjustments that could benefit them as they prepare their returns. This season, filers will come across new tax forms, a twist on an education tax break that can benefit parents of high school students, and changes in mileage reimbursements. Here are tips for lessening your tax bite and a suggestion for putting your refund to good use. Consider: First-time homebuyer credit This popular $8,000 credit expired for most people in 2010.
EXPLORE
Letter to The Record and Aegis | March 26, 2013
A bill that I worked on with my Democratic colleague, Delegate Mary-Dulany James, was recommitted back to committee. HB 1395 promoted tourism and economic growth in Harford County and would have given the Harford County Council the authority to impose a hotel rental tax, up to 6 percent. Many local businesses in the Route 40 corridor contacted me, as well as: County Executive David Craig, Mayor Mike Bennett, of Aberdeen, and Mayor Wayne Dougherty, of Havre de Grace, to support legislation for tourism and economic growth for the County. Because this is not a tax on the citizens of Harford County, but a way to support local development, I helped to get it out of committee by co-sponsoring the bill. Today, after one of our Harford County Delegates asked questions about the bill, it was sent back to the committee, where it is buried for another year The hotel rental tax would not have affected Harford County residents or individuals of lower income who usually stay in hotels with less than 25 or fewer sleeping rooms that are three miles off of the interstate.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun | April 10, 2012
The Maryland General Assembly's regular 90-day session ended in disarray Monday at midnight as legislators failed to approve an income tax measure to which their leaders had agreed. The lack of action meant that a so-called "doomsday" budget — balanced entirely through hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts — is in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1. House and Senate leaders said they would ask the governor to call a special session this week to allow them to take up a plan to increase income taxes to avoid the most severe cuts.
NEWS
By Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2013
Baltimore has underbilled a downtown office tower owned by Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos by $390,000 in property taxes since 2011, government officials say - the most recent example of mistakes emerging from the city's Finance Department. Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, called the billing on One Charles Center an isolated error. But a sampling of tax records shows that the city has also undercharged the owners of two other commercial properties by more than $300,000 in the past four years because of similar errors.
NEWS
By Peter Morici | May 15, 2013
The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill that would allow states to require Internet retailers to collect sales taxes on behalf of local governments. This bill has flaws, but they could be fixed in the House. It should be passed. I don't like the idea of the state and local governments collecting more taxes - they know no limits to their capacity to tax and squander our hard-earned dollars - but the current situation is unfair and bad economic policy. (Also, Marylanders stand to gain from this legislation in another way, because of a state law that will reduce future increases in gasoline taxes if taxing Internet sales is allowed.)
NEWS
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun | November 17, 2013
The City Council is considering delaying a controversial new tax on taxi, limousine and other livery services in Baltimore that business owners said they refuse to pay. Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she will introduce a bill today that would delay by 180 days the implementation of the 25-cents per passenger excise tax on cabs, limousines and for-hire sedans, which went into effect Oct. 1 but is not due to start being collected until Nov. 25....
NEWS
By Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun | November 5, 2013
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake attempted to quiet growing calls from the City Council for an independent audit of the city's troubled property tax program, saying Tuesday that her administration's reforms should be given more time to yield results. "We're not against audits," she said at a news conference. "We just want to make sure they're done in a timely way and are not wasteful of the taxpayers' money. " The mayor's comments came a day before a council hearing on a resolution seeking an "immediate and thorough" audit of the Finance Department.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | October 8, 2013
Chronic mistakes in Baltimore's tax bills commanded attention at City Hall Monday as the mayor said her administration is fixing the problems and the comptroller ordered an audit nonetheless. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city is implementing an automated system to reduce mistakes - which officials acknowledged have cost the city $11 million in the past decade - and she asked citizens to give finance officials "a chance to work. " But a City Council chairman called for an audit, and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt said her office has asked for the documents needed to perform one. "I want to make sure the citizens are being billed properly," Pratt said.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun | October 7, 2013
A city councilman is calling for an "immediate and thorough" audit of the city's finance department after The Sun reported on persistent tax bill errors that have caused the city to miss out on revenue. Councilman Carl Stokes, chairman of the council's taxation committee, plans to introduce two resolutions Monday about the issue. The first resolution calls for the audit, which Stokes says is necessary to "determine exactly what errors have been made in administering the city's property tax programs and how much these errors are costing the city.
NEWS
October 1, 2013
Joan Pratt is still comptroller of the City of Baltimore, though the only time I hear about her is some argument regarding a telephone system. Why wasn't her name mentioned in your recent article about undercharging the owners of commercial properties in the city by more than $700,000 because of errors in calculating tax breaks ( "Errors cut tax bill on tower owned by Angelos," Sept. 27)? What does the comptroller do? She is supposed to be responsible for the effective and efficient fiscal management of the city.
NEWS
By Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2013
Baltimore has underbilled a downtown office tower owned by Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos by $390,000 in property taxes since 2011, government officials say - the most recent example of mistakes emerging from the city's Finance Department. Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, called the billing on One Charles Center an isolated error. But a sampling of tax records shows that the city has also undercharged the owners of two other commercial properties by more than $300,000 in the past four years because of similar errors.
BUSINESS
Jamie Smith Hopkins | July 18, 2012
Louis Schechter had a what-the-heck moment when he opened his property-tax bill. Why did it go up when his assessed value was down? "I appealed my assessment and the city did lower it from $244,000 to $154,800, which is much more in line," he wrote in an email. "However, last year I had a city credit of $2875, but this year I only got a credit of $629. The proportions are way off, and I can't find the formula as to how they calculate the credit. " This question pops up every July as tax bills arrive -- at least since the market went from boom to bust.
NEWS
By Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun | July 14, 2013
More than a year ago, Maryland's assessments agency acknowledged making chronic miscalculations on certain tax breaks for big commercial properties in Baltimore - errors that cost the city more than $1.5 million in potential taxes. On July 6, 2012, a state official emailed the city information necessary to revise tax bills for several properties, which the state concluded had received unduly steep discounts following historic rehabilitations. A year later, the city Finance Department says it has not issued any revised bills to correct the errors.
NEWS
July 5, 2013
In a year when the city is claiming that property tax rates have been reduced, the reduction that many property owners are enjoying is in historic tax credits based on expensive capital property improvements. This weekend, approximately 1,500 cards from the city Department of Finance arrived with first-class postage across the city notifying recipients of "some changes in the Historic Tax Credit (CHAP Credit) given by Baltimore City for qualifying properties. " The upshot of the "changes" is that the "credit has been reduced from the prior year due to an incorrect calculation.
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