From Roy Whiteley, Founder, Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Hello Fellow Property Taxpayers
SDAT (Department of Assessments and Taxation) and the General Assembly once again decided we property owning taxpayers have no need, interest in, or right to access copies of our own or of comparable property worksheets via the Internet in much the same manner we can obtain a similar but very limited version of the basic information via the Internet SDAT “Real Property Data Search”. This latter available data does not contain the vital details of your or of the comparable’s items you need to make an informed comparison for assessment appeal purposes.
The SDAT Director testified that most taxpayers are not interested in this information; he must protect their privacy, and that less than 3000 requests for worksheets are made each year. Maybe that is because the taxpayer is required to file an appeal BEFORE being allowed to obtain comparable property worksheets?? At the same time the SDAT Director has sold everyone of our over 2 million worksheets to a commercial establishment, SpecPrint, (SpecPrint.com) which in turn sells any and all of our records to anyone interested in paying the $115 to $225 asking price for any of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions. He can sell our records BUT we cannot have free Internet access to them??
We are recommending ALL taxpayers request copies of their worksheets for several reasons:
1. Reportedly one third of all work sheets contain errors.
2. Check year built, enclosed area; foundation area and construction type. The questionable construction square foot value is based on these figures.
3. Check Grade. There are 9 listed with descriptions in CAMA manual on SDAT web site and in libraries… 1=Low cost; 2=Economy; 3=Fair; 4=Average; 5=Good; 6=Very good; 7=Excellent; 8=Luxury; 9= Luxury plus
4. Check story numbers and basement status.
5. Check other charges. Do you really have that fireplace, AC unit, pool, garage, deck, shed, or pier?
6. Check cost index. Should not be greater than one. SDAT does not, cannot define unity location and therefore cannot show any location with index above one is better than undefined location. Nine geographic index locations are shown in CAMA manual; none equal to one??
7. Check depreciation. SDAT won’t tell you BUT depreciation should not be less than 1% per year for first ten years and 1% for each two years thereafter.
8 Check for accessory structures. Do you really have them? Are construction sizes, types, age, and depreciation correct?
9. Check all calculations. They make mistakes??
10. Check land size and designation. This is the most nebulous item of all. No firm definitions or values between jurisdictions. Check for adjustments for zoning, hazards, non conforming uses, percolation, utilities, primary, secondary and tertiary designations. This is where they road all extraneous value.
We are told taxpayers can request copies of their own worksheets via snail mail; phone; or e-mail. Assessment office addresses are attached.
DO IT NOW?? GET YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS TO DO IT TOO??
BELIEVE IT OR NOT YOU CAN REQUEST WORKSHEETS FOR ANYONE. YOU CAN’T GET IT BUT THEY WILL. JUST USE THEIR NAME AND RETURN ADDRESS FOR DELIVERY.
FILING A PETITION FOR REVIEW OF REAL PROPERTY
If you find errors in your worksheet or you are just dissatisfied with your assessment and resulting taxes, you need to appeal the assessment. YOU CAN DO THIS ANY AND EVERY YEAR. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR EACH NEW THREE YEAR (TRIENNIAL) ASSESSMENT. JUST COMPLETE THE ATTACHED PETITION BEFORE DECEMBER 31 OF THE CURRENT YEAR TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR A REVIEW DURING THE NEXT YEAR.
– Be prepared to present facts and comparable sales information only in a one on one meeting with an assessor. Written or telephone hearings as well as nights and Saturdays are also available BUT we do not recommend the first two. It is too easy to dismiss arguments presented in absentia.
– IF you cannot attend a scheduled meeting; request a rescheduling. You are entitled to one postponement without any excuse. Keep their docket full??
– IF you cannot make the second hearing submit a written appeal. Make them review your case??
LET’S MAKE SURE OUR RECORDS ARE CURRENT AND CORRECT??
APPEALING YOUR ASSESSMENT IS EASY AND USUALLY WORTHWHILE BUTMORE IMPORTANTLY IT SHOWS YOUR INTEREST AND KEEPS SDAT ON ITS TOES??
Remember Nothing Happens Unless We Make it Happen??
Roy Whiteley, Founder