Mayor, City Leaders Announce Tax Sale Exemption Program

Applications Open Next Tuesday for New Initiative to Protect Owner Occupied Properties from Tax Sale Process

BALTIMORE, MD. — Under the leadership of Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Department of Finance Director Henry J. Raymond, and Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy, the City of Baltimore will open the application to its Tax Sale Exemption Program on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

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 tax sale in the year they apply. This is the first year that the program is in effect. 

“As part of our critical work to prevent property vacancies and keep our longtime homeowners in their properties, I am proud to announce the launch of our Tax Sale Exemption Program,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This is a key part of our larger strategy to reform the City’s antiquated tax sale process and protect our residents. A major component of my Equitable Neighborhood Development Pillar is stabilizing communities and today’s announcement is a vital first step to that goal. I salute Councilwoman McCray for leading this effort in the City Council, and I am grateful for the agility of our agencies to operationalize this new initiative.” 

The program was established through Baltimore City Council Bill 20-0593, which directed the Director of Finance to withhold specific properties from tax sale. That legislation was sponsored by Councilwoman Danielle N. McCray, District 2, with the support of Mayor Scott, then Council President. 

“As elected officials, one of our most basic duties is to protect our residents, especially our older adults,” said Councilwoman Danielle N. McCray. “This legislation, which I led, safeguards our most vulnerable residents and legacy residents, who may be at risk of their property going to tax sale. Rebuilding our city begins with stabilizing our homeowners, and I applaud the Mayor and his administration for working swiftly to support this essential new initiative.”

“The Department of Finance is excited to announce the new Tax Sale Exemption Program,” said Department of Finance Director Henry Raymond. “This program will help prevent low-income and legacy homeowners from going to tax sale, which is a win for our city.”

The city sets aside $2 million annually. From that starting balance, the amount of each applicant’s liens are deducted from the balance remaining. Once the $2 million is exhausted, the program closes.  

Applications will be accepted from February 15 to April 15. Residents must apply every year to exempt qualified properties from the annual tax sale. 

Eligible homeowners can obtain an application on the DHCD website. Residents may also 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 the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development at 417 E. Fayette Street, Suite 1125, Baltimore, MD 21202. 

“Our goal is to help as many residents as we can who are facing a tax sale to have their property removed from that sale,” said Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy.  “With the improvements under the new Tax Sale Exemption Program, we expect to help an increased number of residents who qualify during the application period.” 

Homeowners qualify if they meet the following criteria:

  • The assessed value of their home is $250,000 or less;
  • The homeowner has lived in their home as a primary residence for at least 15 years;
  • And one of the following:
    • 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.

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 possible.

This program does not forgive unpaid bills, and if the accounts are not paid, they may qualify the property for tax sale the following year.

Today’s announcement comes following the Mayor’s decision in May 2021 to remove around 2,500 owner-occupied homes from the annual tax sale. This past Fall, Mayor Scott said he would take additional steps to address the tax sale process by setting up a Tax Sale Workgroup and purchasing the liens of 454 owner-occupied homes.

Tax Sale Work Group meetings are open to the public and can be found on the Boards and Commissions webpage: https://mayor.baltimorecity.gov/tax-sale-workgroup

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 at dhcd.taxsaleinfo@baltimorecity.gov.

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