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City Council urges homeowners to apply for tax break

About 25,000 Baltimore homeowners who received the Homestead Property Tax Credit this year will lose the sometimes-large break if they don't apply for it by Dec. 31, the Baltimore City Council warned Monday.

The one-time application is a relatively new requirement — the General Assembly mandated it in 2007 to cut down on ineligibility problems, setting the deadline at the end of this year to give homeowners plenty of time. But Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and other council members are worried that some residents will see their tax bills spike next July because they don't know about the requirement.

The homestead credit essentially caps increases on owner-occupants' property taxes. It's a statewide break, but the level of the cap varies by locality. In Baltimore, the amount of assessed value a homeowner is taxed on can go up no more than 4 percent a year if they're on record as eligible for the homestead credit — which can translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars sliced off the tax bill.

Some property owners who haven't applied could be ineligible. Landlords and others who don't live in their property as a primary residence aren't supposed to get the credit.

Homeowners can download an application at http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/homestead_app.htm or type in their address at http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite to see if they've already applied. Information: 410-767-2165 or hcredit@dat.state.md.us.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jsmithhopkins

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