© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Baltimore City sales tax exemption extends to some homeowners

Councilwoman Odette Ramos of the 14th District. Photo by Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR.
Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR
Councilwoman Odette Ramos of the 14th District.

It’s a good day for some homeowners in Baltimore City.

The city extended the owner-occupied city tax sale exemption for the third-year in a row; this year only homes valued at $250,000 or less are eligible. Baltimore City first implemented an exemption for owner-occupied homes in 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s spending board approved the measure on Wednesday.

Mayor Brandon Scott said that putting a limit on the home value targets home-owners who have traditionally been most at risk of losing their homes through the tax sale.

“When you think about the neighborhoods that tax sale traditionally impacts, we're talking about our older black residents, working class folks here will be owning homes and for generations that are at risk of losing them, which is why we're doing this,” said Scott.

When property owners amass a certain amount of unpaid yearly taxes, the City puts a lien on that property. By law, the City must publicly auction off that debt when it reaches a certain point.

In order to keep their homes, low-income homeowners find themselves paying thousands of dollars in owed taxes, along with interest and fees lien holders. Often, those homes are lost.

City leaders called the system “predatory.”

City Council President Nick Mosby said that “providing someone access to generational wealth” through finding ways to keep them in home ownership is “critically important” to the council and Scott administration.

Baltimore City officials supported a General Assembly bill in April that could have allowed for an overhaul of the system, but that died when city leaders expressed worry about an unexpected $79 million due to the new state school funding mandate.

Councilwoman Odette Ramos of the 14th district said the city needs to work more closely with the legislature to get that bill passed.

The city’s annual tax sale is scheduled for May 15th.

Emily is a general assignment news reporter for WYPR.
Related Content