[photo, 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland] Functions of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation began in 1878 when the office of State Tax Commissioner was established by the General Assembly (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). At the same time, the Commission's administrative duties were assumed 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).

301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland, October 2019. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

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. Programs that provide property tax credits, primarily to homeowners and renters who meet eligibility requirements, also are directed by the Department.

While the Department is responsible for administering Maryland's real and personal property tax laws, it also oversees certain functions relating to corporations, such as issuing corporate charters, and collecting certain taxes, such as the gross receipts tax.


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, secs. 2-101 through 2-222).

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 county council consent.

Based in Baltimore, the Director, oversees the Department's headquarters, as well as the assessment and taxation offices found in each of Maryland's counties and Baltimore City.

Under the Department are five divisions: Business Services, Finance and Administration, Real Property Valuation, Shared Services, and Taxation.


The Business Services Division began as Special Programs and reformed as the Taxpayer Services Division in 1992. It reorganized as the Business Services Unit in 2021, and as the Business Services Division by 2023.

Franchise taxes, property tax credit programs, and the issuance of corporate charters in Maryland are overseen by the Division.

Two main units carry out Division work: Business Charter and Business Property Valuation.

[photo, 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland] BUSINESS CHARTER
Formerly within the Taxpayer Services Division, the Business Charter Unit was made part of the Business Services Division by 2023.

Anyone wishing to legally form a business does so through the Business Charter unit within the Taxpayer Services Division. 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.

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.

Business Charter 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. Business Charter also is responsible for processing "ground rent" redemptions and registrations.

301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland, October 2019. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Business Property Valuation 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.


In 1998, the Finance and Administration Division started. In March 2017, it reorganized as the Finance and Budget Division, and in September 2017 was renamed the Budget Division. By 2023 it returned to its former name.

Under the Deputy Director of Assessments and Taxation, the Finance and Administration Division oversees Accounting, Budget, Compliance and Records Management, Equal Employment Opportunity, Facilities, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Procurement.

Budget formed in 1992 as the Business Services and Finance Division from the merger of the Corporate Charter Division and the Corporate Assessments Division. It reformed in 1998 as the Finance and Administration Division, when responsibilities of these two divisions (along with Franchise Taxes, and Utility and Railroad Valuation) transferred to the Taxpayer Services Division. In March 2017, it reorganized as the Finance and Budget Division, and in September 2017 was renamed the Budget Division. When the Finance and Administration Division reformed by 2023, the Budget Dvision was made a unit of the Division.

For the Department, Budget oversees budget preparation.

Compliance and Records Management began as separate units, which merged by 2023.

Since October 1, 2017, the State Department of Assessment and Taxation has had a program for the continual, economical and efficient management of its records. The Department's Records Officer develops and oversees the program, and serves as liaison to the Records Management Division of the Department of General Services, and to the State Archives (Chapter 539, Acts of 2017; Code State Government Article, secs. 10-608 through 10-611).


[photo, 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland] 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.

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

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 of Assessments and Taxation, 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 Boards; 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 Division also oversees the Assessment and Administration Valuation System, and the Enterprise Zone Tax-Credit Program.


Formerly under Business Property Valuation, the Enterprise Zone Tax-Credit Program transferred to Property Tax-Credit Programs in June 2017, and later to the Real Property Valuation Division.

Through the Enterprise Zone Tax-Credit Program, businesses which locate or expand facilities in a designated enterprise zone receive local tax credits on increased assessments for new capital investments and improvements. In the first five years, tax credits may be received on 80 percent of the increase. A declining percentage (from 70 percent to 30 percent) is available over the next five years.


The Shared Services Division formed within the State Department of Assessments and Taxation by 2023.

Four units fall under the Division: Customer Experience, the Customer Service Contact Center, Information Technology, and Scanning and Printing.

In 1993, Information Technology was created as Management Information Services under the Taxpayer Services Division. In July 1998, Management Information Services was made a separate division. In August 2000, it reformed as the Information Technology Division, and later as the Office of Information Technology. Formerly under the Director of Assessments and Taxation, the Office of Information Technology was placed under the Deputy Director of Assessments and Taxation in April 2019. It was made part of the Shared Services Division by 2023.

The automated data systems of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation are administered and maintained by Information Technology. For each county and Baltimore City, the office 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, Information Technology offers a searchable database for real and personal property assessments, tax maps, sales data, corporate charter and Uniform Commercial Code information.


The Taxation Division oversees Property Tax-Credit Programs, and the Office of Tax Sale Ombudsman.

Property Tax-Credit Programs formerly were part of the Taxpayer Services Division, and joined the Tax Division by 2023.

In 2018, property tax credit programs provided more than $65 million in State-funded property tax credits to home owners and renters who qualified based on an income test.

Property Tax-Credit Programs include: the Home Owners' Property Tax Credit Program; the Homestead Property Tax Credit Program; and the Renters' Property Tax Credit Program.

Effective January 1, 2020, the State Tax Sale Ombudsman was authorized by the General Assembly to be part of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (Chapter 730, Acts of 2019; Code Tax-Property Article, sec. 2-112).

The State Tax Sale Ombudsman’s Office helps homeowners understand the tax sale process, and navigate the tax sale system. It connects them to housing and financial counseling, legal services, and other benefits programs; and helps them apply for tax credits and other resources.

An Annual Tax Sale Survey of the counties is conducted by the Office. Annually, the Office submits to the General Assembly an Annual Tax Sale Report, which summarizes and analyzes Survey results, as well as activities of the Office that year.

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