Functions of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation began in 1878 when the office of the State Tax Commissioner was established (Chapter 178, Acts of 1878). The State Tax Commission replaced the office of State Tax Commissioner in 1914 (Chapter 841, Acts of 1914). Quasi-judicial appeal responsibilities of the State Tax Commission were assigned in 1959 to the Maryland Tax Court (Chapter 757, Acts of 1959). The Commission's administrative duties were assumed at that time by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. In 1973, the State took over administration of local assessment offices and bore their full operational costs as well (Chapter 784, Acts of 1973).

[photo, 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland] Maryland is the only state where the assessment process is centralized at the State level. For tax purposes, the State Department of Assessment and Taxation appraises real and personal taxable property at market value and certifies these values to local governments. Based on the assessment and property tax rates set by each county and incorporated municipality, local jurisdictions send out property tax bills in July or August of each year.

301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland, March 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Appointed by the Governor, the Director of Assessments and Taxation administers and enforces the property assessment and tax laws of Maryland. The Director supervises assessment of all property in the counties and cities so that taxable property is assessed uniformly statewide. For both real and business personal property, the Director must establish a continuing method of assessment (Code Tax - Property Article, Title 2).

For each county and Baltimore City, the Director of Assessments and Taxation appoints a supervisor of assessments nominated by the mayor of Baltimore, the county commissioners, or, under charter government, by the county council or the county executive with council approval.

Under the Department are four divisions: Finance and Administration; Information Technology; Real Property Valuation; and Taxpayer Services.


The Finance and Administration Division formed in 1992 as the Business Services and Finance Division from the merger of the Corporate Charter Division and the Corporate Assessments Division. It received its present name in 1998 when responsibilities of these two divisions (along with Franchise Taxes, and Utility and Railroad Valuation) transferred to the Taxpayer Services Division. For the Department, the Division oversees accounting, procurement, and budget preparation.

Under the Division are two units: Accounting, and Administration and Operations.


In 1993, the Information Technology Division was created as Management Information Services under the Taxpayer Services Division. In July 1998, Management Information Services was made a separate division. In 2000, it received its present name.

The automated data systems of the Department are administered and maintained by the Division. For each county and Baltimore City, the Division also designs and maintains systems for real property, corporate charters, local personal property, and tax credits. These include the Real Property Data System, which maintains ownership and value information about parcels of real property; Home Owners' and Renters' Tax Credits; residential and commercial Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) software to organize data used in assessing property values; and the Maryland Business Entity System (MBES), a searchable database containing business names, offices and resident agents, personal property assessments, and organizational document information. The costs of departmental projects are divided equally between the Department and local jurisdictions.

On the Internet, the Department offers a searchable database for real and personal property assessments, tax maps, sales data, corporate charter and Uniform Commercial Code information.


Since 1980, real property has been reassessed on a three-year cycle by the Real Property Valuation Division. Every year, one-third of all residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural properties in Maryland are reviewed. Assessors monitor and analyze real estate sales in Maryland and may conduct an exterior physical inspection of a property. Each county and Baltimore City is required to reimburse the State for the costs of conducting real property valuations. For FY2012 and FY2013, the reimbursement rate is 90 percent; for each year thereafter, 50 percent.

Maryland's system of real property assessment has been based on 100 percent of the market value of the property since July 2001 (Chapter 80, Acts of 2000). To ensure the accuracy of assessments, the Division makes an annual assessment ratio survey by comparing actual sales with assessment levels in various subdivisions. This survey also determines how well local assessment offices are keeping pace with current property values.

Property owners are notified of any change in their assessment. Increases in value over the previous appraisal must be phased in over three years. For example, an increase of $30,000 would add $10,000 per year to the old value.

Once assessments are certified by the State Department, local governments apply local tax rates to convert them into tax bills. Tax bills and collections are administered by local government finance or treasurer's offices.

Maryland law provides for a three-tier administrative appeal process: the Supervisor's Level Hearing; the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board; and the Maryland Tax Court. Where assessment questions are involved, the Real Property Valuation Division participates in all court proceedings. The Division also provides clerical assistance to several local Property Tax Assessment Appeal Boards. Brochures explaining the assessment process and related matters, such as appeals and tax credits, are available on the Internet, and at each local assessment office.

Under the Real Property Valuation Division are the local assessment offices. These include an office in each county and in Baltimore City.


The Taxpayer Services Division began as Special Programs and reorganized under its present name in 1992. The Division oversees franchise taxes, tax credit programs, and the issuance of corporate charters in Maryland.

The Division oversees the annual reassessment of business personal property, including operating property of railroads and public utilities. With the Department, the counties and Baltimore City share the costs of the reassessments.

Franchise taxes applicable to the net income of savings and loan associations and other financial institutions, and to the gross receipts of public service corporations, are administered by the Department. In addition, the Division administers the property tax component of the Enterprise Zone Property Tax Credit Program.

Anyone wishing to legally form a business does so through the Charter Unit. Such businessses include corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and business trusts. Out-of-state entities doing business in Maryland also must register with the Unit.

The reporting of all resident agents for service of process, the collection of the annual filing fee charged certain business entities, and the maintenance of a system for providing "certificates of status" needed in busines and commerce are responsibilities of the Unit.

The Unit is custodian of domestic charters for Maryland corporations and of qualifications and registrations for limited partnerships and foreign corporations. Specified fees are collected, and the personal property of such corporations is assessed by the Unit. Thereafter, the values are certified to the subdivisions for application of local tax rates and Personal Property Assessments. The Unit also is responsible for processing "ground rent" redemptions and registrations.

In 2003, property tax credit programs provided more than $42 million in State-funded property tax credits to home owners and renters who qualified based on an income test.

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