www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-bz-property-tax-billing-integrity-20120502,0,6492722.story

baltimoresun.com

City: Removal of unwarranted tax breaks means $4M extra due

By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

4:11 PM EDT, May 2, 2012

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Baltimore's Department of Finance said Wednesday that its year-old "billing integrity" effort to ferret out unwarranted tax breaks has turned up just over $4 million in extra property taxes due the city.

Nearly $2.2 million of the breaks the agency said it found are homestead property tax credits, which blunt the impact of tax increases on principal residences but have for years been claimed — knowingly or not — by landlords and others who don't live in the homes in question.

The city said Wednesday that it had recently asked the state Department of Assessments and Taxation to remove about 1,500 homestead credits from rented and vacant homes. All told, the city has asked for 3,665 homestead credits to be removed.

The city said it also had found other unwarranted breaks, including nearly $1 million in tax exemptions on 17 properties that officials said weren't actually being used for tax-exempt purposes.

The $4 million total doesn't include back taxes for previous years, which the city is also pursuing.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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