Semi-Annual Tax Payment
- Beginning in July 2000, all taxpayers living in their principal residence pay their real property taxes on a semi-annual schedule unless they elect to make both payments on or before September 30th.
- Eligible taxpayers must pay one-half of their tax liability on or before September 30th, and the second half on or before December 31st.
- Taxpayers who escrow their tax payment may elect to pay annually (that is, make both payments on or before September 30th). However, they must notify their lender by May 1st of their desire to pay annually.
- Taxpayers who do not escrow their taxes will receive a tax bill that will permit them to pay on either a semi-annual or annual basis.
- Personal property taxes, taxes on residential rental units, and taxes on commercial real property are not eligible for the semi-annual schedule.
In 1995, the State of Maryland Legislature enacted the semi-annual real property tax payment program (Program). The Program made it mandatory for counties to provide taxpayers with this option for the payment of real property taxes. The purpose of this legislation was to help reduce closing costs associated with the purchase of homes in Maryland, effectively reducing the amount of cash new homebuyers need.
For tax levy year 2000 and beyond, the program became mandatory for all eligible real property owners. It is assumed that all eligible real property taxpayers will pay semiannually unless they elect to make both installment payments on or before the first installment date, September 30th.
The Program applies only to real property taxes, not personal property taxes. Personal property taxes must be paid annually. As for real property taxes, only owner-occupied residential property owners are eligible to participate in the Program. Accordingly, taxpayers with residential rental property or property owners with mailing addresses other than the premise address will receive tax bills that will not permit a semi-annual payment for that property.
All taxpayers in Washington County receive a copy of their tax bill, regardless of who actually pays the tax bill. If you are paying your taxes yourself, your tax bill will indicate the semi-annual first and second installment payment amounts and an optional full payment amount. A taxpayer may choose either option. If you are escrowing your tax payment with your lender (included with your monthly mortgage payment), Maryland law requires that you must notify your lender of your intention to pay your taxes annually by May 1st, preceding the tax levy year. (For example, you must notify your lender by May 1, 2007, that you desire to pay your tax levy year 2007 taxes on an annual basis.) If no notice is given to the lender, the lender will pay the taxes in semi-annual installments. You do not have to notify the County.
For your information, the front of the tax bill will indicate whether your lender, if any, requested a copy of your bill. If the “Mortgage Information” field on the tax bill is blank, then your lender did not request a copy of your bill. A name in the “Mortgage Information” field indicates the company that requested a copy of your tax bill. Please keep in mind that the County does not keep records as to who owns a particular mortgage throughout the year – mortgages are sold and resold too frequently to keep that information current. The County must rely on the mortgage companies/lenders to request copies of bills for their mortgagors.