by Katie Pohlman
Special to The Gazette
Montgomery County residents who logged on to view their annual tax bill July 1 were surprised to find them unavailable.
Taxpayer bills should be posted online the first day of July every year, according to the county’s Department of Finance’s website. But this year, the county missed their deadline.
Bonnie Ayers, county spokeswoman, said in an email that the bills should be posted online and sent out to taxpayers July 9.
The reason that 2013 property tax bills are not available yet is that the State Department of Assessments and Taxation does not send the assessment information to all jurisdictions at the same time, and Montgomery County did not get the assessment information until the end of June, the last of all jurisdictions to receive the necessary information, Mike Coveyou, county chief of the Division of the Treasury for the county’ Department of Finance, said in an email. After getting that information, it takes seven to 10 days to analyze the data, correct any errors and finalize the data for publishing on the Internet and as printed, mailed bills, Coveyou explained.
Before the county finance department receives the annual bill information from the state, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation spends three days preparing them. Robert Young, the department’s director, said it takes a little longer than normal to assess bills for Montgomery County because there are more tax credits for residents to apply for, such as the Homestead Tax credit from the state, a supplementary Homestead Tax credit from the county and a senior tax credit. The department must review all applications and award them to appropriate taxpayers. After the process is completed, the state sends the bills on to the county, Young said.
The state started reviewing county tax bills June 24 and sent them on to the county finance department June 27. These dates change every year as all of Maryland’s 24 tax subdivisions – all 23 counties and Baltimore city – apply for tax review. The process is first-come, first-serve, according to Young.
“You get your turn in line,” he said.
This year, he said, Montgomery County just contacted the state later than usual.
Once the state is done reviewing tax bills, the county then has additional local taxes to add, including bills for municipalities, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Maryland branch of National Capital Park and Planning Commission. There are also charges for the Water Quality Protection Fund and Solid Waste Services. All of these taxes are added together on the residents’ bills, Ayers said.
“Then the bills are sent to the print shop where the information is applied to the forms, then printed,” she said. “Bottom line, it will be several more days before the bills will be in the mail.”
Dee Hodges, president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association, is concerned about the not-yet-posted tax bills. She said the delay in receiving bills will cause a delay in paying them.
“People pay their bills when they get them,” she said.
Hodges believes the payment deadline should be pushed back to account for the eight missed days that are usually available for residents to review their bill, plan their payment method and make the payment itself. Banks and mortgage companies will not be affected by this change, but homeowners will, she said.
Ayers said the county cannot push the payment deadline back because it is set in state law. She doesn’t believe residents should have a problem in getting in the first payment before the September 30 deadline.
Once tax bills are posted online, residents can view theirs by going to the finance department’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/finance.