Soaring property assessments ignite calls for tax reform in Baltimore City

Baltimore, MD — The first round of post-pandemic property assessments in Baltimore City has residents concerned about potential tax increases.

Maryland officials report a 23% jump in city property values since 2021, the largest hike in a decade. This hits Baltimore residents hard as they already pay the highest property tax rate statewide at 2.248%, nearly double surrounding counties.

First-time homebuyer Syeda Jaffery was shocked receiving her new assessment. She hurriedly paid $510,000 last fall for a Canton rowhome that sold for $320,000 in 2018.

“You’ve been hearing since COVID, buy now, buy now!” she said. “I didn’t expect such a huge increase.”

Jaffery first received a 17% higher assessment, but then a second notice raised the value 67%. She appealed and applied for tax credits but still forecasts paying thousands more.

“Had I known, I wouldn’t have bought in Baltimore City,” she said. “I don’t get the same value for what I’m paying.”

The state’s reassessment relied on a 2015 building permit until seeking updated data after Jaffery’s purchase. Officials claim the second notice reflected the sale price.

Economist Anirban Basu warns soaring taxes could accelerate the city’s population loss. He’s joined Renew Baltimore petitioning to cut the property tax rate to 1.20% by 2031.

“That will stimulate an economic boom,” Basu said. “Investors will aggressively redevelop vacant housing.”

The petition needs signatures to make November’s ballot. While it failed before, residents facing large assessment jumps may now see merit in lowering the historically high rates.