Gwendolyn Shelton, left, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association gives instructions to Carver Vocational Technical High School students before going door-to-door in the neighborhood to inform homeowners to apply for the Homestead Tax Credit.

Gwendolyn Shelton, left, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association gives instructions to Carver Vocational Technical High School students before going door-to-door in the neighborhood to inform homeowners to apply for the Homestead Tax Credit. (Kenneth K. Lam / December 14, 2012)

Today is the final day for Maryland homeowners to apply by mail for the Homestead Tax Credit, which prevents property taxes from going up more than 10 percent per year (it's a lesser percentage in most counties and Baltimore). Applications will also be accepted in person on Wednesday (read below for details). 

The tax credit could save some homeowners hundreds of dollars on their July tax bill. To learn more about the credit, read the related items to the left of this post.

The credit only applies to owner-occupied residences. Do not apply for rental/investment properties or second homes. If you do, you're setting yourself up to be penalized by the state because of a law passed this year by the General Assembly.

Robert E. Young, the director of the state's Department of Assessments and Taxation, said last week that his office recently sent out its first handful of penalty notices under the new law -- to several property owners in Baltimore and Prince George's County.

Another important deadline: Today is the last day to request an independent, free review of foreclosure actions that were in process during 2009 or 2010. There are more details about this, too, in a related post that is linked at the left of this post.

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."

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. (Caution: There have been reports of the fax number not working properly in recent days. Make sure you receive a confirmation that your fax went through.)

Have a real estate news tip or experience to share? Email me at steve.kilar@baltsun.com.