Friday, January 25 – OC Homeowners Flooding Assessor With Inquiries

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City homeowners do not need to send in a homestead tax credit form this year, despite rumors to the contrary.

According to Worcester County Supervisor of Assessments Robert Smith, his office is being flooded with calls and forms from Ocean City property owners apparently worried that they will lose the homestead tax credit if the new forms are not sent in.

“They should not be concerned about these things until the notice of assessment comes out for group III [Ocean City] in December 2008,” Smith said.

The only area that needs to fill out the homestead tax credit forms is group II, encompassing part of West Ocean City as well as Snow Hill, Pocomoke City and parts south. Those property owners have already received the forms with their assessment notice.

West Ocean City and Ocean City are geographically close, but the assessor’s office sees them as separate.

The confusion may stem from reports in the media on the new law, which took effect in October, requiring homeowners to apply for the homestead tax credit rather than it being granted automatically.

The measure, passed during the 2007 regular session of the Maryland General Assembly last spring, is aimed at property owners who have been claiming the tax credit illegally on dwellings they do not live in.

Homeowners have until 2012 to file the paperwork.

Smith asked homeowners to wait for their assessment notice with the form inside, instead of getting the form off the Internet and sending it in now.

“Nobody’s going to look at this homestead tax credit at this time because it’s not the group that’s being reassessed,” Smith said. “We don’t want people to write their social security number on a form and mail it somewhere it’s just going to sit around.”

The assessment office, a state office located in the Snow Hill Government Center building, is overwhelmed with phone calls on the tax credit form.

“We don’t have enough people to answer all the questions,” Smith said. 

People have been misinformed, according to Smith.

“There’s people handing these forms out on the street,” Smith said he’s been told. “I guess they’re afraid of losing their homestead tax credit.”

Ocean City property owners’ homestead tax credits are not in jeopardy, he stressed.

“If they’ve received a notice of assessment, they should fill out the form. If they haven’t received a notice of assessment, they should not fill out the form,” Smith said.