Sun investigation: Taxing Baltimore

Taxing Baltimore is a series of occasional articles examining Baltimore's highest-in-the-state property tax rate. To report these stories, The Sun used an automated process called "scraping" to copy 237,000 property tax records from the city's website and compile them into a database. The first articles detailed how the Homestead Property Tax Credit has morphed into a massive subsidy fueling widespread inequality among homeowners -- a problem made worse by errors in billing and inadequate government oversight.

Baltimore won't release legal opinion on tax break errors

Baltimore won't release legal opinion on tax break errors

When Baltimore Finance Director Harry E. Black revealed Wednesday that the city could not legally recoup more than $1.5 million in erroneous tax breaks from commercial property owners, he promised to provide the legal analysis on which he based the decision.  more...

City says it can't collect $1.5 million in erroneous tax breaks

City says it can't collect $1.5 million in erroneous tax breaks

Baltimore can't legally recoup more than $1.5 million in erroneous tax breaks given in recent years for renovations to historic commercial properties, finance director Harry E. Black said Wednesday.  more...

A year out, no revisions to errant city property tax bills

A year out, no revisions to errant city property tax bills

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.  more...

Author Wes Moore got undeserved tax breaks

Author Wes Moore got undeserved tax breaks

Baltimore resident Wes Moore has a standout resume. He's a best-selling author, Rhodes scholar and TV show host, and his rising public profile is fueling speculation he may be eyeing a run for political office.  more...

State mistakenly revives erroneous property tax breaks

State mistakenly revives erroneous property tax breaks

Baltimore Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway Sr. reacted with disbelief upon hearing that an illegitimate tax break was inexplicably on the property tax bill for a rental home he owns in Northwest Baltimore — again. "No, it's not," he insisted recently to a reporter.  more...

Wealthy N. Baltimore enclaves are home to biggest homestead beneficiaries

If you want to know who in Baltimore benefits most from the homestead property tax credit, look north.  more...

City mum on $1.5 million in excessive tax breaks granted to commercial properties

City mum on $1.5 million in excessive tax breaks granted to commercial properties

Four months ago, the state assessments agency informed Baltimore’s Finance Department that the owner of The Munsey apartment building had been under-billed by $517,930 on city property tax bills going back to 2007, all because of incorrectly calculated tax breaks.  more...

Baltimore historic tax credits continue to show errors

Baltimore historic tax credits continue to show errors

The ink was barely dry on Baltimore City’s new property tax bills when we spotted fresh errors in the way some historic tax credits were recently calculated.  more...

Tax break errors cost Baltimore millions, Sun investigation finds

Tax break errors cost Baltimore millions, Sun investigation finds

The city of Baltimore has failed to collect millions of dollars in potential revenue because of chronic errors and miscalculations in a program offering tax breaks for historic renovations, a Baltimore Sun investigation has found.  more...

Homeowner works out deal with city after tax billing error

Homeowner works out deal with city after tax billing error

Like a car salesman, the City of Baltimore started high, came down and ended up making a deal all sides could live with.  more...

Are city homeowners allowed to double up on tax credits?

Are city homeowners allowed to double up on tax credits?

Last week while reporting on the latest tax credit mess, we learned about an obscure 1999 Baltimore law that appeared to have potentially big consequences. It seemed to bar city homeowners from getting both a historic rehab tax credit and a homestead credit on the same house at the same time.  more...

Baltimore City works haltingly to explain property tax credit errors

Baltimore City works haltingly to explain property tax credit errors

Five Baltimore homeowners have been getting erroneous historic rehab property tax credits for the past two years. Once the errors were discovered, the city was quick to demand that all five pay the money back — and within 30 days, thanks.  more...

City homeowners given 30 days to repay tax credits they didn't request

City homeowners given 30 days to repay tax credits they didn't request

Over the past two years, Maureen Coyle has received $5,700 in property tax breaks that the city admits she never requested for her Patterson Park rowhouse. Now the city is demanding full repayment by month's end.  more...

Assembly OKs bill imposing fines for improper homestead tax credits

Assembly OKs bill imposing fines for improper homestead tax credits

The General Assembly has approved a bill imposing steep penalties on homeowners who are caught getting homestead property tax credits they're not entitled to receive.  more...

Developer Blake Cordish pays city $14,000 after tax error

Developer Blake Cordish pays city $14,000 after tax error

Baltimore City is $14,026.32 less poor thanks to developer Blake Cordish. That’s how much he paid after the state fixed a three-year-old error that vastly undervalued his Federal Hill mega-rowhouse.  more...

Homeowners must apply for property-tax credit or lose it

Tens of thousands of Maryland homeowners who haven't already applied for the Homestead Property Tax Credit have until the end of the year to do so or lose the often-valuable break.  more...

Assessment review planned after 2nd error involving consolidated property

Assessment review planned after 2nd error involving consolidated property

When a Baltimore couple combined two Federal Hill rowhouses into a double-wide home a few years ago, the state's tax assessors made a mistake: Instead of factoring in the values of two addresses, they set the new home's value as if it were still just a single rowhouse.  more...

Rawlings-Blake backs proposed fine for tax credit scofflaws

As someone who's made a hobby of unmasking tax cheats, Patterson Park activist Matt Gonter told state lawmakers Tuesday that he backs a proposal to fine homeowners caught getting unwarranted homestead credits on their property tax bills.  more...

TAXING BALTIMORE

Many don't know about tax break for lower-income homeowners

Many don't know about tax break for lower-income homeowners

Vera Artis would seem to be a perfect fit for the state program created decades ago to ease the property tax burden on homeowners with modest incomes.  more...

City officials want to spread word about homeowners' tax credit

Two Baltimore City Council members are planning campaigns to get the word out about property tax assistance for homeowners with modest incomes, reacting to a Baltimore Sun article that showed the pool of apparently eligible city homeowners is far larger than the number of people actually receiving the help.  more...

Tax credit for homeowners means big break for some, nothing for thousands

Tax credit for homeowners means big break for some, nothing for thousands

Jeff Burdick and his next-door neighbors have nearly identical two-story rowhouses, on the same block of East Clement Street with the same public schools and the same city trash pickup. But one striking difference is the $5,300 he pays in yearly property taxes — more than both his neighbors combined.  more...

Sun analysis finds 17 owners with three or four homestead credits, hundreds of double-dippers

Sun analysis finds 17 owners with three or four homestead credits, hundreds of double-dippers

Since 2009 Patrick Tong has received "homestead" property tax breaks worth $18,000 on three rowhouses he owns in East Baltimore.  more...

City councilman presses for property-tax overhaul

City councilman presses for property-tax overhaul

Along with some of his neighbors, the chairman of the Baltimore City Council's taxation committee is getting a remarkable tax break on his home: He pays just 16 percent of the bill. The Homestead Property Tax Credit picks up the rest.  more...

Key state lawmaker calls for property tax cap overhaul

Key state lawmaker calls for property tax cap overhaul

A state lawmaker who helps set tax policy is calling for an overhaul of Maryland's property tax cap law, after a Baltimore Sun investigation documented how the costly program has resulted in homeowners across Baltimore paying vastly different amounts for similarly valued houses.  more...

Loss of tax breaks means hefty bills for homeowners

Eugene Schoene maxed out a credit card, drained his checking account and borrowed money from a relative. It was the only way, he says, to pay an unexpected property tax bill of gigantic proportions.  more...

Bill would impose civil penalties on homestead credit scofflaws

Maryland homeowners who are caught getting unwarranted homestead credits on their property tax bills would face fines equal to 25 percent of any undeserved break, under a bill introduced Friday in the General Assembly.  more...

Botched Federal Hill valuation highlights shrinking number of assessors

Botched Federal Hill valuation highlights shrinking number of assessors

The imposing three-story home on the 200 block of E. Montgomery St.stands out from its more modest Federal Hill neighbors. The edifice, with 15 front windows and a gated driveway, is noticeably bigger and no doubt much pricier.  more...

Top property tax bills in Baltimore add up to big bucks

Top property tax bills in Baltimore add up to big bucks

When the city sends Tom Clancy his property tax bill, finance officials might want to tuck in a thank-you note.  more...

Top tax bills in Baltimore City

Top tax bills in Baltimore City

The homes and commercial properties with the biggest property-tax bills in Baltimore are largely within walking distance of each other, with most clustered downtown and around the Inner Harbor. The Baltimore Sun analyzed city records to rank the properties with the most taxes — after accounting for any breaks — for the tax year that ends June 30. By way of comparison: The taxes on a city home that's assessed at $100,000 come to $2,268.  more...

Chat Wrap: Sun Investigation: Taxing Baltimore

Chat Wrap: Sun Investigation: Taxing Baltimore

Reporters Jamie Smith Hopkins and Scott Calvert chatted with readers earlier today on the findings of The Sun's investigation of Maryland's Homestead Property Tax Credit.  more...

Baltimore homestead tax credits: Gross inequality

Editorial: Baltimore homestead tax credits: Gross inequality

A homeowner should not pay more in property taxes than his two neighbors put together for their nearly identical homes. But that's exactly what Sun reporters Scott Calvert and Jamie Smith Hopkins found in a comprehensive and unprecedented review of Baltimore City's homestead tax break program.  more...

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