Tax Sale Coordination and Prevention Services
Tax Sale Coordination and Prevention Services assists homeowners in avoiding tax sale and understanding and navigating the tax sale process.
What is a Tax Sale?
Each year, Baltimore City sells homeowners’ unpaid city bills (liens) to outside bidders who then charge interest and fees, allowable under state law, to property owners. The 2023 Tax Sale will take place on May 15th. The last day to pay overdue bills to avoid tax sale is April 28, 2023.
Owner-occupied property is eligible for tax sale (also known as a tax lien certificate sale) if the combined total of its city liens is $750.00 or more. For non-owner-occupied properties, the threshold is $250.00. These liens include but are not limited to unpaid real property taxes, special benefits assessments, alley and footway paving bills, streetscape, minor privilege, multi-family dwelling, clean and board, environmental control, and residential registration charges and fees. Beginning in 2020, unpaid water bills will not count towards the $750 tax sale eligibility threshold for owner-occupied properties.
What Can I Do to Avoid or Reduce the Risk of a Tax Sale?
What is the Tax Sale Deferral Program?
The Tax Sale Deferral Program (formerly known as the Tax Sale Exemption Program) is an annual city program managed by the Departments of Finance and Housing and Community Development. Successful applicants have their properties removed from a tax sale in the year they apply. However, this program does not forgive unpaid bills, and if the bills are not paid, they may qualify the property for tax sale the next year.
How does the Tax Sale Deferral Program work?
The city sets aside $2 million dollars annually. From that starting balance, the amount of each applicant’s liens are deducted from the balance remaining. Once the $2 million dollars is exhausted, the program closes.
Am I eligible?
Homeowners who receive Final Bill and Legal Notices (FBLN) in February are eligible to participate in this program if they meet the following criteria:
- The assessed value of their home is $250,000 or less (You can look up the value of the home by clicking here to visit the State of Maryland SDAT - Real Property Search website), and
- The property is a Primary Residence, and the homeowner has lived there for at least 15 years, and
- One of the following criteria is met:
- The homeowner has a total annual household earned income of $36,000 or less; or
- The homeowner is at least 65 years old and has an annual earned income of $75,000 or less; or
- The homeowner is an adult currently receiving disability benefits from the Federal Social Security Disability Insurance Program or the Supplemental Security Income Program and has an annual earned income of $75,000 or less.
How can I apply?
The number of properties removed from tax sale through this program is limited, and applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is best to apply as early as you can. Applications are accepted February 15 – April 15 each year.
Or, you may pick up a paper application at the 1st floor of the Abel Wolman Building, and the 11th floor of 417 E. Fayette Street, Baltimore, 21202.
To submit a paper application, you may mail it or bring it to:
Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development
417 E. Fayette Street, Suite 1125 (11th floor)
Baltimore, MD 21202
For more information regarding the application process please call the Department of Finance at (410) 396 3000 or email the Department of Housing & Community Development by clicking here.
Homeowners who are behind in property taxes or other bills, who have received notices from the Department of Finance, the Environmental Control Board, or the Department of Health, or who otherwise believe they are at risk of a tax sale, may receive free legal consultation and assistance by attending a tax sale clinic. Four clinics are held in March and April each year at different times in different city locations. Homeowners can call the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland at 443-703-3052 to learn more about the tax sale prevention clinics.
Homeowners can also reduce their risk of entering a tax sale by using state and city tax credits and other resources that lower household expenses.
A few of the most helpful resources are:
A homeowner is eligible for this credit if they: 1) own and live in their home; and 2) have a total gross household income of $60,000 or less. The State of Maryland sets a limit on the amount of property tax a homeowner must pay based on their total gross household income. If the homeowner is paying more than the set limit, the property tax is reduced accordingly. For the first time, in 2019 homeowners were able to apply for this credit online. Homeowners must apply every year for this credit. The deadline to apply is October 1.
Click here to learn more about the Maryland Homeowners' Property Tax Credit, or call 410-767-4433 or 443-961-6220.
Every Maryland homeowner who owns and lives in their home is eligible for this credit. It shields homeowners from large property tax increases on their principal residence by limiting the annual increase in their property's assessment value (this limit is 4% in Baltimore City). A homeowner has to successfully apply only once for this credit; it is thereafter applied every year. There is no deadline for this application.
To learn more about the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit click here, or call 410-767-4433 or 443-961-6220.
Although unpaid water bills no longer count towards the $750 tax sale eligibility threshold for owner-occupied properties, the unsettled debt can still be a financial burden and reduce resources available for other household expenses and bills. To inquire about the latest water bill discount programs, to be screened for additional benefits, or to find the closest office to you, please visit their website by clicking here, or call 410-545-0900.
Your home is often your biggest source of wealth. To be the legal owner of your home, and to be eligible for tax credits and many home improvement programs, your name must be on the deed. The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service provides free consultations and legal services to secure your name on the deed to your home, assist in completing wills and health care directives and naming a financial power of attorney, and navigate the estate administration process.
Learn more or register for a free homeowner clinic by clicking here, or call 443-451-4066
For More Information
To learn more about the tax sale process, avoid a tax sale, or schedule a community-based information session, please email the Tax Sale Services Office by clicking here or call 410-396-0273.