Office of the State Tax Sale Ombudsman
Our goal is to help Maryland homeowners navigate the tax sale system by providing the best tax sale help, information and resources available. We are actively working with Maryland counties and other resources to refine and improve our website and the service our office provides.
We are here to help you!
This website (www.dat.maryland.gov/taxsale) has information and resources that may help homeowners pay delinquent taxes and improve their financial situations.
Homeowners can get help with delinquent taxes by contacting us at:
(833) 732-8411 (Toll free)
We look forward to hearing from you.
YOUR PROPERTY TAXES
Each County and Baltimore City maintains the tax accounts for real property located in its jurisdiction. If you do not receive your property tax bill in July, contact your County’s “Collector of Tax,” usually the treasury or finance office. Contact information for each office is provided under theTax Collectorslink on this page.
Be sure to notify your County or Baltimore City of any address changes by completing this formhttps://dat.maryland.gov/SDAT%20Forms/addresschange.pdfand submitting it to the local tax assessment office listed under the form.
If your property taxes are put in escrow by your mortgage company and you receive a tax bill, contact your mortgage company. Also, check your escrow analysis statement to verify that your taxes have been paid by your mortgage company.
The State Department of Assessments and Taxation determines the taxable assessment of your real property. Property assessments may be appealed. For more information on the assessment process, visithttps://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Assessment-Appeal-Process.aspx.
PROPERTY TAX DUE DATES
Your property taxes are due without interest as of July 1 of each year. The taxes are overdue on the following October 1, and interest accrues after that date.
Owners of properties designated as “principal residence” may pay real property taxes in two semi-annual installments. The first installment is due bySeptember 30of each tax year, and the second installment (including applicable service charge) is due byDecember 31of each tax year.
THE TAX SALE PROCESS
Any unpaid property taxes constitute a lien on the property from the date they are due until they are paid. A lien is a debt attached to your property, like a mortgage. County-specific local charges can be added to this lien. State law requires each County’s Collector of Taxes to sell these tax liens to collect delinquent taxes and other fees owed to the County. The tax liens are sold as “tax lien certificates” through what is called a “tax sale.”
The tax sale is the process where the tax lien certificates are sold at public auction to the highest bidder. Each County issues bidding rules for its sale. Once the lien certificate is sold, the County’s lien on the property passes to the purchaser.
Note: the unpaid debt and fees are sold at auction, not the real property itself. After the tax sale,the homeowner still owns the real property. The purchaser buys the debt owed and a right to foreclose on the property if the homeowner fails to pay off the debt within a limited time. After a tax sale, the homeowner can still “redeem” the property by paying off the debt owed in the lien certificate. But time is of the essence. More on redemption by the owners, below.
NOTICE OF SALE
Thirty days or more prior to the date property is first advertised for tax sale in a newspaper, the Collector is required to mail a statement to the person who last appears as owner on the Collector’s tax rolls. This tax sale notice contains the person’s name, the amount of taxes due and a statement that if the taxes are not paid, the property must be sold.
When the thirty-day period expires, the Collector of Taxes must publish a listing of the properties once a week for four successive weeks in one (1) or more newspapers, published in the County, notifying the owners that the property is to be sold at public auction. Advertisement will contain the date, time and place of the sale, as well as a description of the property, name of person who last appears on the Collector’s tax roll as the owner, the assessed value of the property as determined by the last assessment and the tax sale amount.
THE CERTIFICATE OF SALE
Within about six months after the tax sale, the Collector gives the purchaser a certificate of sale.The certificate states that the tax lien certificate was sold by the Collector to the purchaser, the date of sale, the amount bid, the advertised amount, and the annual interest rate payable upon redemption. The certificate is void after two years from the date of the certificate of sale unless the purchaser files a proceeding to foreclose the homeowner’s right of redemption.