County Comment: Channel 6 program highlights tax changes

County Comment
Channel 6 program highlights tax changes
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

A new program featuring Washington County Administrator Greg Murray and Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman is airing on Hagerstown Television, Cable Channel 6 on Antietam Cable TV. The program "New Tax Information" will air on every even hour for the next two to three weeks.
City Administrator Zimmerman explains how the new County Property Tax Differential method of calculating property tax rates will impact residents of the City. The new method will affect residents of all 9 municipalities in Washington County differently.
Murray explains why the County chose to adopt the Differential method, which provides lower property tax rates directly to citizens. In past years, the County would provide rebate checks to municipal governments as reimbursement for services provided by towns, which the County does not have to provide.
"For example" Murray said, "in the City of Hagerstown, the City takes care of their own streets, has their own police force, and you as a municipal resident shouldn't pay that portion to the County because your municipal government takes care of those services for you."
"So this year, as opposed to collecting the full amount of tax and then writing a check back to the municipality to compensate for services we as a county do not have to provide, we have taken that amount and credited it directly to the taxpayer," Murray said.
The County tax rate remains at 94.8 cents per $100 of full-assessed value of real property, which is below the constant yield rate. Residents of municipalities benefited by a reduction of up to 12.5 cents in that tax rate with inception of the differential.
Residents of Hagerstown and the other towns will see a reduction in the County portion of their municipal tax bills. Each town will set the municipal tax rate based on funds needed to offset loss of revenue from County and other sources. Hagerstown residents, for example, saw the full 12.5 cent reduction. Smithsburg residents saw a five cent reduction. Residents in unincorporated areas of the County saw no reduction.
Town residents should contact their local government for additional information regarding the property tax rate reduction, if any.
Murray also discusses the new County tax credit for Senior Citizens age 70 and older, which piggybacks on the state senior credit. People over 70 with less than $12,000 annual income will pay no property taxes. A rate reduction will be calculated for those with incomes from $12,000 to $60,000. If you have applied for the state senior program, the County reduction is automatic and you do not have to reapply.
Also discussed in the program is the state homeowner tax credit and the new County tax credit for non-homeowner occupied properties, like apartments. Renters also have a credit program available to them through the state.
More information is available from Washington County Government by calling the County Administrator's Office at 240-313-2200, or the County Treasurer at 240-313-2110. Information on state tax programs, such as the senior tax credit and the Homeowner credit, is available by calling the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Hagerstown Office at 301-791-3050. Local information would be available from the City of Hagerstown at 301-739-8577; Boonsboro: 301-432-5141; Clear Spring: 301-842-2151; Funkstown: 301-791-0948; Hancock: 301-678-5622; Keedsysville: 301-432-5795; Sharpsburg: 301-432-4428; Smithsburg: 301-824-7234; and Williamsport: 301-223-7711.