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Frequently Asked Questions

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How often is the Treasurer’s website updated?
Payment information within the Washington County Treasurer’s website is updated daily, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7:30am – 8:00am.

How can I contact The Treaurer's Office?

Where is the Treasurer’s Office located?
The Treasurer’s Office is located at 35 West Washington Street, Suite 102, Hagerstown, MD 21740-4868

What are the hours of operation?
The Washington County Treasurer’s Office is open Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 4:30 pm, with the exception of certain County, State and Federal holidays. You may also call us during those hours at 240–313-2110.

I am having trouble getting through to an operator. What can I do?
From about the end of July until the end of September, the County's telephone line (240) 313-2110 can be very busy. To accommodate the number of telephone calls, the system holds calls and transfers them, in turn, to an operator. Operators are available to answer questions between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 pm. Tax information is available 24 hours a day and on weekends through our website. Please be patient and your call will be answered as soon as possible. You may send an e-mail message directly to the Treasurer’s Office by sending your question to

PRIVACY & THE COUNTY'S INTERNET WEBSITE

All County public records are subject to inspection by any person unless the records are privileged or confidential by laws or exempted from the MPIA. There is no law which declares these records to be privileged or confidential and there is no exemption for these records under the MPIA.

What is the function of the Washington County Treasurer and what is its relationship to the State of Maryland?
The primary responsibility of the Washington County Treasurer’s Office is to collect property taxes on behalf of the State of Maryland and Washington County. The State assesses all property in Maryland and maintains the database for real property tax accounts.

What is the difference between Real Property and Personal Property?
Real Property is assessed on the physical (land) and/or improved (dwelling) components of the property.

Personal Property is assessed on the assets (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) of a company or business and is based on the company/business income tax return that is filed with the State of Maryland.

ASSESSMENTS & TAX RATES

How was my total tax obligation derived?
All real property (real estate) in Washington County is subject to taxation, except that which is specifically exempt. Each property is assessed every three years by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). Should you wish to discuss your assessment in more detail, or have a question regarding the assessment appeals process, please call SDAT at (301) 791-3050 or visit their website at www.dat.state.md.us

I appealed my assessment but my taxes are due, what should I do?
Obligation to pay taxes is not stayed or suspended pending an appeal from the assessment.

What if I have paid my taxes and then the assessment is lowered? How do I get a refund?
On the final determination of an appeal, any money paid by a taxpayer that exceeds the amount properly chargeable under the determination shall be refunded at the same rate of interest that the taxes would have borne if the taxes were determined to be overdue. That rate is 12% per annum.

How are my real property taxes calculated?
Real property tax is calculated by multiplying the tax rate (per $100) by the property's assessed value. The tax rate is set each year by the Washington County Commissioners.

What is the taxable levy year?
Real estate property taxes in Maryland are billed at the beginning of each fiscal year. The tax year covers the period from July 1st to June 30th. This represents the tax levy year. In Washington County, this same period is also designated as the County's fiscal year.

Town of Boonsboro 21 N Main Street, Boonsboro MD 21713 (301) 432-5141
Town of Clear Spring PO Box 104, Clear Spring MD 21722 (301) 842-2252
Town of Funkstown PO Box 235, Funkstown MD 21734 (301) 791-0948
City of Hagerstown 1 E Franklin St, Hagerstown MD 21740 (301) 790-3200
Town of Hancock Town Hall, Hancock MD 21750 (301) 678-5622
Town of Keedysville PO Box 359, Keedysville MD 21756 (301) 432-5795
Town of Sharpsburg PO BOX 89, Sharpsburg MD 21782 (301) 432-4428
Town of Smithsburg PO Box 237, Smithsburg MD 21783 (301) 824-7234
Town of Williamsport PO Box 307, Williamsport MD 21795 (301) 223-7711

Why is there only one return envelope in the tax bill?
Even if you are on a semi-annual payment schedule requiring that you make two separate payments, only one envelope is provided due to the cost of mailing the tax bills. Please do not use this envelope for any other than the intended purpose.

What if I didn’t receive a tax bill?
Bills are mailed to all taxpayers in July of each year. If you have not received your bill, please check the website. Chances are that you may have forgotten to notify the State Assessment office of your change of address and the tax bill was returned to us. Please note that failure to receive a tax bill does not relieve taxpayers of their obligation to pay the tax bill, interest, or penalties.

Do you send a bill for the second installment?
No, the County does not send a new tax bill for the second installment. The original tax bill has two coupons, one for each installment.

Is a delinquent notice sent?
Reminder notices are issued in early January of each year (after the December 31 second semiannual installment payment date has passed). Reminder notices are again mailed in early February. Final legal notices are mailed in early March of each year. The final legal notice is a 30-day demand for payment notice that advises the taxpayer of the consequence if the bill remains unpaid.

When are tax payments due?
Washington County offers a one half of one percent (0.5 percent) discount if semiannual or annual payment is received on or before July 31 of each year.

Pursuant to Maryland Law, tax payments must be made on or before the due date to avoid interest and penalty charges.

ADDITIONAL TAX BILLS

I have already paid my taxes. Why am I getting another tax bill?
If you received another bill, it is most likely because there has been an adjustment to your account. These adjustments could be for tax credits, increased assessments, abatements, or other changes which result in either a supplemental tax bill or a revised tax bill.

When is there a supplemental tax bills?
In the case of new homes, most often the developer pays the land bill only (i.e., the unimproved portion of your property), since the State Assessment office may not have yet assessed the dwelling (i.e., your home or the improvement portion of your property). In these cases there is a supplemental bill. Supplemental bills are based on when the State assesses the dwelling. The supplemental bills will be in the form of a 1/2 year bill, which covers the period January 1st through June 30th. These supplemental tax bills are mailed only to the homeowner (these bills are not sent to the lender) and are due within 30 days. If the homeowner escrows their taxes and would like the lender to pay a supplemental bill, the homeowner must send the tax bill to the lender.

Do I qualify for the semiannual tax payment plan, and if so, how do I sign-up?
You qualify for the semiannual payment option if the real estate property tax account is your primary residence. The account must be identified as “Homeowner Occupied” and it must be coded as such on the records of the State Department of Assessments & Taxation. If your account is identified by the State Department of Assessments & Taxation as your primary residence, then you are automatically given the option to pay your real estate property taxes semiannually or annually.

Will I benefit from paying my taxes semi-annually?
Effective July 1st, 2000, a semi-annual tax payment schedule became mandatory for all owner-occupied residential property owners in the State of Maryland. Taxpayers may opt to pay annually, but they must notify their lender prior to May 1st of their intention if taxes are paid by the mortgage company. The County and the mortgage lenders will assume that taxes are being paid semi-annually unless the taxpayer notifies their mortgage lender that they want to pay annually. You do not need to notify the County; the County will accept either an annual or semi-annual payment. Semi-annual tax payments are due in two installments; the first on September 30th and the second on December 31st. There is a small service charge associated with the second semiannual installment.

Is there a discount for paying early?
Yes. Washington County offers a one half of one percent (0.5 percent) discount for early payments received prior to July 31 of each year.

Can I prepay my taxes for next year?
No. Since each levy year has its own tax bill, and tax bills are not prepared until July of the year in which they are due, payments cannot be made and posted to your account prior to that date.

Why is there a convenience fee for using Credit Cards?
The credit card service charge is not a tax but the merchant discount and processing fee charged by the bank and the credit card processor. The County does not keep any of the service charges; it is passed entirely on to third parties. While the County would like to offer credit card payments free of charge, the County cannot charge all taxpayers for credit card use by a few individual taxpayers. Hence, only the individual using the card is charged. As you may be aware, there have always been costs associated with using credit cards. For most businesses, these costs are included in the price of the goods sold.

How do I get a receipt for my tax payment?
Your receipt is your cancelled check, your bank or credit card statement, or your validated receipt from the cashier (if you paid in person). You may also request a printout of your account showing a zero balance once taxes are paid.

INTEREST & PENALTY

What if my taxes are not paid on time?
Annual tax bills and the first installment of semi-annual bills are due on or before September 30th and become delinquent on October 1st. The second semiannual installment is due December 31st and becomes delinquent January 1st. Delinquent tax bills are subject to interest and penalty at the rate of 1 % per month on the unpaid balance until paid in full. The total late charge is 12% annually as set by the Board of County Commissioners. Interest and penalty are calculated on the net amount of the bill, after any credits are applied. Delinquent taxes will result in the sale of the property tax lien through a public tax lien sale. Taxpayers receive a delinquency or tax lien sale notice in March. Accounts eligible for the tax lien sale are listed and advertised for four consecutive weeks preceding the tax lien sale in a Washington County newspaper and are subject to an advertising fee. Property tax accounts taken to tax lien sale may be subject to additional legal costs that are incurred by the new tax lien certificate holder.

Can I appeal the interest and penalty charges?
The payment due dates are fixed pursuant to Maryland State Law, which also determines how the interest and penalty may be calculated and applied to an account.

TAX LIEN SALE

What is the Tax Lien Sale?
Pursuant to the Maryland State law, each local jurisdiction holds an annual tax sale to sell property liens for unpaid property taxes and other charges to the highest bidder. The new certificate holders, upon being awarded the winning bid, pay the County the outstanding taxes and charges, including any penalty and interest charges. Please note that the County sells the lien on the property at tax sale, not the actual property.

When is the Tax Lien Sale?
The tax lien sale is held every year on or before June 30.

Where can I find more information about the annual Tax Lien Sale?
Tax Lien Sale information

Where can I find a Tax Sale registration application?
Tax Sale Registration Form (Word)
Tax Sale Registration Form (pdf)
Get Acrobat Reader

Tax Lien Sale Redemption by Owners
The owner or other person having an estate or interest in the property sold has the right to redeem the property tax lien at any time until the right of redemption is finally foreclosed by an order of the Circuit Court (Section 14-827). During this period of redemption, the owner of the property has the right to continue in possession of and to exercise all rights of ownership until such time as the right of redemption is foreclosed (Section 14-830).

To redeem a property tax lien, the owner shall:

  1. Determine the redemption amount and the need to obtain a release for actual and reasonable expenses from the certificate of sale holder by calling 240-313-2110; during the first four months after the date of the tax sale, properties may be redeemed without payment of the expenses listed below, including legal fees;
  2. Reimburse the certificate of sale holder for actual and reasonable expenses incurred after a four month waiting period in preparation for any action to foreclose the right of redemption, and obtain a release from the certificate of sale holder, the plaintiff, or their attorney, that all reimbursable fees and expenses, if any, were satisfied; and
  3. Present the release to the Collector and pay all redemption amounts due described below and all taxes in arrears after the tax sale to bring the tax account current. The redemption amount includes the amount due sold at tax sale, any interest computed from the date of the tax sale to the date of the redemption payment (Section 14-828), and reimbursement to the certificate of sale holder for actual and reasonable expenses incurred after a four month waiting period in preparation for any action to foreclose the right of redemption, including fees paid for recording the certificate of sale, for actual and reasonable attorney's fees for each certificate of sale, for expenses incurred in the publication and service of process by publication, for reasonable fees for a necessary title search, and for taxes (together with interest and penalties) arising after the date of sale that have been paid by the plaintiff or the holder of the certificate of sale (Section 14-843). The current redemption interest rate, as stated on the certificate of sale, is 6 percent per annum. Redemption payment must be made by certified check, cashier's check, money order, or cash to Washington County Treasurer.

When all redemption obligations are satisfied by the owner, the Collector shall:

  1. Notify the holder of the certificate of sale that the property was redeemed and that the certificate must be surrendered to the Collector; and
  2. Upon receipt of the certificate of sale, remit all money received for redemption, to the holder of the certificate (Section 14-828(c).

If an action by the purchaser to foreclose the right of redemption was filed and there is a dispute regarding redemption, an order of the Court is required (Section 14-829).
The property owner is provided with the telephone number of the purchaser of the certificate of sale and is required to secure such release.

REFUNDS

What if there is an overpayment on the account? How do I get a refund?
If there is a credit balance on the tax account, the property owner should contact the Washington County Treasurer’s Office for further explanation or to request a refund.

TAX TYPES

What services are provided by the taxes?
General County Tax
This tax is levied on all property in the County and funds, in part, such basic services as police protection, elementary and secondary education, the community college, transportation, health and social services, and libraries.
State Property
This tax is levied by the State of Maryland and is used for the payment of principal and interest on State general obligation bonds. This tax is levied on real property only.
Municipal District Property Tax
This tax is levied by each municipal area within Washington County. It is used for such services as street and sidewalk maintenance, trash removal, tree care, sanitation, and police protection.

CREDIT PROGRAMS

Are there any programs to assist taxpayers in paying their tax bills?
There is a Homeowner's Property Tax Credit Program which is administered by the State and available to eligible homeowners based on household income. Applications must be filed no later than September 1st of each tax year. For information or an application, please call the State Department of Assessments & Taxation at (800) 944-7403 or visit their website at www.dat.state.md.us.

I am a senior citizen, is there any tax assistance available to me?
Relative to income, a senior citizen may qualify for the Homeowner's Property Tax Credit Program described above. There are tax assistance programs in Washington County based on age. See the following link for detail information about the Senior Citizen Supplement to the State Homeowners' Tax Credit Program.

The Homestead Tax Credit limits the increase in taxable assessment each year to a fixed percentage. Every county and municipality in Maryland is required to limit taxable assessment increases to no more than 10% per year. Washington County has approved a 5% credit beginning July 1, 2007.

The credit applies only to owner occupied residential dwellings and is based on the total assessment for the land and dwelling associated with the dwelling. The credit does not limit the market value of the property. It is a credit applied against the tax due on the portion of the reassessment exceeding 5% from one year to the next. The credit is based on the 10% limit for purposes of the State property tax, and 5% for purposes of local taxation. In other words, the homeowner pays no property tax on the assessment increase which is above the limit. There are certain conditions that must be met for credit eligibility:

Click the following link for more information on the Homestead Tax Credit from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

See the following link for detail information about the Senior Citizen Supplement to the State Homeowners' Tax Credit Program.

EXEMPTIONS

Are there any Exemptions?
Disabled veterans and blind persons who are exempt from property taxes under State law can apply for a refund of property taxes for the past three years. For information or an application, call SDAT at (301) 791-3050, or click on
SDAT (http://www.dat.state.md.us/) and you will find information and applications for all of the programs.

How will tax credits be paid to taxpayers?
Homeowners' tax credits will be displayed on the tax bill. The amount of the credit will appear on the bill and will be used to reduce the tax amount due. If the credit is issued after the taxes are paid, a refund will automatically be issued to the taxpayer.

Why am I receiving a tax bill when the property is tax exempt?
Chances are the bill you received is for one or more of the charges Washington County collects in addition to the taxes. These charges may include fees such as Lighting District Fees and Bay Restoration Fees.  Even though you may be exempt from paying property taxes, the exemption does not extend to these charges.

How can I receive a duplicate bill?
You may obtain copies of tax bills and/or payment history from 1999 to the present free of charge.

MORTGAGE COMPANY INFORMATION

What if my real property tax bill went to the wrong mortgage company?
What if my Mortgage Company is not listed on my tax bill?
What if the mortgage company listed on my tax bill is incorrect?
Washington County does not maintain a lender database. Every year in June, the mortgage companies indicate the accounts for which they wish to retrieve payment information. If information is requested by a mortgage company, then we print on the tax bill that this information has also been forwarded to your mortgage company. You need to verify that your mortgage lender has made the request or you may wish to send them of copy of your bill. Since this maintenance procedure is done only once a year, any information that may or may not be correct and current will remain on the tax bill throughout the entire tax year.

Washington County does not automatically provide tax billing information to the lender; the lender must make a request for the information. Unless the mortgage lender makes that timely request to meet the tax bill printing deadlines, their name will not appear on the tax bill.

TRANSFERRING & REFINANCING PROPERTY

I’m selling my property. Who is responsible for paying the taxes?
If you are transferring (i.e., selling) your property and your tax bill is unpaid at the time of settlement, taxes will be collected by the settlement attorney. Pursuant to Maryland State Law, all real estate taxes must be current (i.e., paid) before the deed can transfer to the new owner.

Problems may arise, most often around the time that property tax payments are due in July and December, respectively. If the original mortgage lender sent the payment, but it has not yet been posted to the account at the time of settlement, then payments will need to be collected at settlement in order to pay property taxes and have the deed recorded. There are two scenarios that effect how the overpayment would be handled:

  1. In the event that the settlement payment is made prior to the mortgage lender (assuming the lender uses the mass payment option to pay taxes), then there is no need for the seller to request a refund from the County, because the money will automatically be returned to the lender. The seller will need to contact their lender for a refund.
  2. In the event that the settlement payment is made after the mortgage lender, there may be a need for the seller to request a refund from the County.

The County makes every effort to avoid overpayments (e.g., the settlement attorney's payment is reviewed prior to posting), and will return the check representing the overpayment to the law firm for distribution to the client. However, in some cases payments may post and be eligible for a refund. In these cases, the third party (mortgage company or settlement representative/title company) must provide a written request for a refund, along with supporting documentation, such as a copy of the canceled check.

MORTGAGE REFINANCING

I’m refinancing my property. Who is responsible for paying the taxes?
In contrast to a property transfer, Maryland State law and the County do not require that property taxes must be paid if you refinance your mortgage. However, often mortgage lenders will require that property taxes are current before the new mortgage is issued to the taxpayer.

In cases where an overpayment may have resulted from a property tax payment by both the previous and new mortgage lender, the procedure is identical as that shown in the previous “Property Transfer” section.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

How do I correct the name and address on my tax bill?
If the wrong mailing address appears on the tax bill or the real property assessment notice, or you would like to change the address to which your tax bills, assessment notices and other correspondence should be mailed, please call the State Assessment Office (SDAT) at 301-791-3050 or visit the SDAT internet website www.dat.state.md.us to e-mail your request to the State. You will need to provide the account number or the address of the property and the resident status. Once the correction is made by SDAT, the County will automatically receive the information from the State. However, please remember that since the State maintains the database, the County cannot make any changes to your property tax account including the mailing address.

RESIDENT STATUS

I reside at this property and wish to change my primary residence status to Homeowner Occupied. Who do I contact?
To change your residency status, please contact the State Department of Assessments & Taxation office at 301-791-3050

A person or married couple can only have one principal residence. Principal residence is the dwelling where the homeowner regularly resides and is the location designated by the owner for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver's license, and filing income tax returns.

Only the owner's principal residence is eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit, the Homeowners' Tax Credit and other State and local tax credit programs. In addition, only the owner's principal residence is eligible for the semi-annual property tax payment program. The State Assessment Office may request documentation to verify that a dwelling is the principal residence of a homeowner.

PROPERTY SOLD

What should I do with a bill that I received for property that I no longer own?
Return the bill to:
Washington County Treasurer
35 West Washington Street - Suite 102
Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Please enclose a short note indicating that the property was sold.