The current deadline is written to be forgiving, Young added. Homeowners who miss the Dec. 31 deadline will be allowed to apply next year and receive the benefit in 2014 as if they'd never lost it.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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Have you applied for the Homestead Tax Credit?

To determine if you have already submitted an application for the Homestead Property Tax Credit, go to the state tax department's real property database at http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/. Choose your county from the drop-down menu and search for your home by street address. At the bottom of the tax information page about your property is a box titled "Homestead Application Information." If you have already applied, and you application has been processed, there will be an indicator to the right of "Homestead Application Status."

Source: Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation

How to apply for the Homestead Tax Credit

Over the past few years, most homeowners have submitted their one-time application. But for those who have not, here's how to meet the Dec. 31 postmark deadline:

Apply online: Find your most recent tax assessment notice. It will have a confidential access number printed on it that you can use to apply for the tax credit over the Internet. Go to https://sdathtc.resiusa.org/homestead/ in a Web browser to fill out the application. You will receive an email confirmation at the end of the process that will provide proof the application was submitted.

Apply by mail: You may have a paper copy of the homestead credit application. It was sent out to all homeowners. If you didn't hang onto it, you can download and print a copy by going to http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/Homestead_application.pdf in an Internet browser. You do not need a confidential access number to apply with a paper form. Send in your application to the address on the application. At the post office, ask to have the application sent with a Return Receipt, which will provide you with proof of delivery.

Apply in person: Because the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation will be closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, people will be able to hand-deliver their homestead applications to the department's office on Jan. 2. The office is located on the 8th floor of 301 W. Preston St. in Baltimore.

Apply by fax: Completed paper applications can be faxed to the tax department at 410-225-9344.

Source: Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation