Property Tax Payment Info
Property Tax Payment Dates
Payments for annual bills and the first installment for semiannual bills must be received on or before September 30th to avoid penalties and interest. The second semi-annual installment payment must be received on or before December 31st to avoid penalties and interest.
All taxpayers living in their principal residence pay their real estate property tax bills on a semi-annual schedule unless they choose to make both payments on or before September 30 of each year. Homeowners who escrow their tax payments may choose to pay annually, but must notify their lenders by May 1st of their intent to pay annually.
Homeowners who do not escrow taxes with a lender will receive a tax bill that will permit them to pay on either a semi-annual or annual basis. Semi-annual bills include two payment coupons, while annual bills include only one coupon. Payments on partial year levies (half year new construction assessments) are due 30 days after the bill is mailed.
Certain personal property taxes, taxes on residential rental units and taxes on commercial real property are not eligible for payment on a semi-annual basis.
How to Pay Taxes
Taxpayers have many options for paying their property taxes as follows:
1) Pay by mail with a check or money order payable to Washington County Treasurer and mailed to:
Washington County Treasurer’s Office
35 West Washington Street, Suite 102
Hagerstown, MD 21740-4868
2) Pay in person at the Washington County Treasurer’s Office, located at 35 West Washington Street, Suite 102, Hagerstown, MD 21740-4868. Payment in person may be made by cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card only (convenience fee will apply to credit/debit card transactions).
3) Taxpayers can arrange to have their taxes paid by their mortgage company from an escrow account.
4) Pay by telephone using a credit/debit card by calling (240)-313-2110 (a convenience fee will apply).
5) Pay online using a credit/debit card at www.washco-md.net (a convenience fee will apply).
Delinquent Property Taxes
Delinquent taxes are subject to interest and penalties at the rate of 1% per month until paid in full. Interest and penalties are calculated on the net amount of the bill, after any credits are applied. Delinquent taxes, including unpaid penalty and interest charges, will result in the sale of the property tax lien through a tax sale public auction process which is generally conducted in the month of June of the subsequent calendar year.
A tax sale will also occur if the taxpayer owes an amount equal to the interest and penalty, even if the amount of the tax bill has been paid. Accounts eligible for tax sale are listed for four consecutive weeks in a Washington County newspaper and are subject to an advertising fee. Property tax accounts taken to tax sale may be subject to additional legal costs incurred by the new certificate holder.
Semi-Annual Tax Payment
Beginning in July 2000, all taxpayers living in their principal residence pay their real property taxes on a semi-annual schedule unless they elect to make both payments on or before September 30th.
Eligible taxpayers must pay one-half of their tax liability on or before September 30th, and the second half on or before December 31st.
Taxpayers who escrow their tax payment may elect to pay annually (that is, make both payments on or before September 30th). However, they must notify their lender by May 1st of their desire to pay annually.
Taxpayers who do not escrow their taxes will receive a tax bill that will permit them to pay on either a semi-annual or annual basis.
Personal property taxes, taxes on residential rental units, and taxes on commercial real property are not eligible for the semi-annual schedule.
In 1995, the State of Maryland Legislature enacted the semi-annual real property tax payment program (Program). The Program made it mandatory for counties to provide taxpayers with this option for the payment of real property taxes. The purpose of this legislation was to help reduce closing costs associated with the purchase of homes in Maryland, effectively reducing the amount of cash new homebuyers need.
For tax levy year 2000 and beyond, the program became mandatory for all eligible real property owners. It is assumed that all eligible real property taxpayers will pay semiannually unless they elect to make both installment payments on or before the first installment date, September 30th.
The Program applies only to real property taxes, not personal property taxes. Personal property taxes must be paid annually. As for real property taxes, only owner-occupied residential property owners are eligible to participate in the Program. Accordingly, taxpayers with residential rental property or property owners with mailing addresses other than the premise address will receive tax bills that will not permit a semi-annual payment for that property.
All taxpayers in Washington County receive a copy of their tax bill, regardless of who actually pays the tax bill. If you are paying your taxes yourself, your tax bill will indicate the semi-annual first and second installment payment amounts and an optional full payment amount. A taxpayer may choose either option. If you are escrowing your tax payment with your lender (included with your monthly mortgage payment), Maryland law requires that you must notify your lender of your intention to pay your taxes annually by May 1st, preceding the tax levy year. (For example, you must notify your lender by May 1, 2007, that you desire to pay your tax levy year 2007 taxes on an annual basis.) If no notice is given to the lender, the lender will pay the taxes in semi-annual installments. You do not have to notify the County.
For your information, the front of the tax bill will indicate whether your lender, if any, requested a copy of your bill. If the “Mortgage Information” field on the tax bill is blank, then your lender did not request a copy of your bill. A name in the “Mortgage Information” field indicates the company that requested a copy of your tax bill. Please keep in mind that the County does not keep records as to who owns a particular mortgage throughout the year – mortgages are sold and resold too frequently to keep that information current. The County must rely on the mortgage companies/lenders to request copies of bills for their mortgagors.
Tax Sale Information
The Washington County Maryland tax sale process enables the County to collect all unpaid and delinquent property taxes as required by statute. Legal references for this program are provided in the Tax Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, 2001 Replacement Volume, as amended. All unpaid taxes on real property constitute a lien on the real property from the date they become due until paid (Section 14-804 (a), Section 14-805 (a)). It is mandatory for the Collector to sell any property on which taxes are in arrears (Section 14-808). There may be tax liens pertaining to properties sold for which taxes were paid prior to the sale date or other circumstances rendering the sale invalid or void.
In the event the County determines that a tax sale is invalid and void the County will, as the exclusive remedy available to the bidder/purchaser, reimburse the bidder/purchaser the tax sale purchase price paid, without interest, or any applicable high bid premium paid, without interest.
The tax sale bidder/purchaser assumes all risks of any irregularity of the sale and has no other remedy against the County. The County is not liable for and will not pay the bidder/purchaser any interest, costs, expenses or attorney fees associated with the invalid or void sale. Events that may invalidate a tax sale include, but are not limited to, bankruptcy filings prior to the tax sale, transfer errors on the assessor’s records that cause the failure of notice to the proper property owner or sale of incorrect property, payment of taxes prior to the tax sale, issuance of a revised tax bill by the assessor, value changes by the assessor, erroneous service charges, service fees, special improvement levies, Department of Water Quality charges, or Department of Solid Waste charges.
There is no warranty, expressed or implied, that a property has a marketable title or that it contains the area of land which it is said to contain; therefore, the purchaser assumes all risks in that regard. Tax sales are complex proceedings and the County recommends that you seek legal advice prior to participation in the annual tax sale.
REAL ESTATE TAXES
Real estate taxes are due and payable on July 1st, and become delinquent October 1st of each year. Under the Annual Payment Schedule, real estate taxes become delinquent as of October 1st. Under the Semiannual Payment Schedule, the first installment becomes delinquent as of October 1st, while the second installment becomes delinquent as of January 1st. Failure to receive a real estate tax bill does not relieve the property owner of the requirement to pay the real estate taxes or the subsequent penalties that are imposed on October 1st, should the real estate taxes become delinquent.
Penalty and interest are assessed on all delinquent real estate taxes at the rate of 1% per month or fraction thereof on the County and State portion of the bill until the bill is paid in full. Only payment in full of all amounts due will prevent the property from being included in the Tax Sale.
TAX SALE PROCEDURE
At least thirty (30) days before any property is first advertised for sale, a Final Bill and Legal Notice is mailed to the property owners of record at the last address provided to the Treasurer’s Office. Tax sales are generally held annually on the first Tuesday in June, or such other dates as the Washington County Treasurer determines.
Advertisements for the tax sale are published in a County newspaper of general circulation for four consecutive Saturdays prior to the date of sale, specifying the place, date and time of the Sale, and listing all properties with delinquent real estate taxes or other municipal liens. Sale expenses are added to the delinquent amounts and included in the advertisement as the opening bid.
Bidders must register before the sale. Registration forms may be obtained from the Treasurer’s Office, and must be completed and submitted by 4:00 p.m. on the last business day prior to the date of tax sale. Bidder’s cards bearing the bidder’s numbers will be provided upon approval of the completed bidder’s registration form. Bidders must bring their Bidder’s card with them on the date of sale, in order to place bids. Attendance at the tax sale is required in order to bid. Tax Sale Certificates cannot be purchased over-the-counter.
Payment of the opening bid amount is required on the day of sale.
Payment can be made by cash, check, or certain credit/debit cards (card payments incur additional fees). Upon payment, a Tax Sale Certificate will be provided to the successful Tax Sale Purchaser. This certificate is evidence that the Tax Sale Purchaser has purchased an enforceable lien against the property. Tax Sale Certificates can be assigned.
POST SALE PROCEDURES
The owner or other interested parties of the property for which a Certificate of Tax Sale has been issued has the right to redeem that property after the date of sale. The purchaser of a Tax Sale Certificate has no right to possession of the property until completion of foreclosure of the rights of redemption, including the delivery of a deed from the Washington County Treasurer. The action to foreclose the property owner’s right of redemption can be filed in the Circuit Court for Washington County after six months from the date of the Tax Sale; however, it MUST be filed within two years of the date of the Tax Sale. If an action is not filed within that two-year period, the holder of the Tax Sale Certificate will LOSE all rights to the property described in the Tax Sale Certificate and LOSE all rights to a return of the down payment. If the Tax Sale Purchaser holds more than one Tax Sale Certificate, all properties for which certificates are held can be included in a single action. Neither the Washington County Treasurer nor the attorney for the Washington County Treasurer can assist in the foreclosure process. The holders of Tax Sale Certificates are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney of their choosing for assistance.
The period of redemption runs from the date of sale to the date of the final Court Order foreclosing or terminating the right of redemption, during which time the owner of the property has the right to remain in possession of the property. The redeeming party must pay to the Washington County Treasurer the amount of the opening bid paid at the Tax Sale together with 6% interest per annum, and any taxes, fees or charges accruing after the date of the Tax Sale. Four months after the date of the Tax Sale, the redeeming party may be responsible for the Legal fees of the Tax Sale Purchaser. After the first six months, the redeeming party may also be responsible for costs incurred by the Tax Sale Purchaser including reasonable legal fees, reasonable title search fees, and Court costs. The redeeming party may file a Motion with the Court to fix the amount of attorney’s fees as well as other costs, and may require the foreclosing party to introduce evidence in Court to justify his fee.
The above is not intended to be a complete summary of rights or liabilities regarding the Tax Sale. Property owners and purchasers are encouraged to consult with an attorney for assistance. Additional information regarding Tax Sale matters are found in the Maryland Tax Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland §§14-808 through 14-854 inclusive, and are available online at http://mlis.state.md.us/cgi-win/web statutes.exe.
For additional information regarding Washington County Maryland tax sales, including the tax sale registration form and tax sale listing, please visit our website at www.washco-md.net.
Also in this section
Lookup & Online Payment
Property Tax Payment Info
Semi-Annual Tax Payment
Tax Credit Information
Business Tax Information
Property Tax Rates
Notice of Sale
Real property taxes, service charges and other fees or charges are due and payable without interest and penalties on July 1st of each taxable year. For the purpose of this document, the term “taxes” shall include, but is not limited to all the preceding types of charges (Section 14-801(c)). The taxes are overdue and in arrears on the succeeding October 1st for annual billing accounts; and October 1st and January 1st for semi-annual billing accounts, respectively. Interest and penalty accrues from October 1st and/or January 1st at the rate of 1 percent per month or any fraction of a month until paid in full (Section 14-603 and Section 14-703). Supplemental levies are overdue and in arrears 30 days from billing issue date.
At least 30 days prior to the date the property tax lien is first advertised for tax sale, the Collector shall mail a notice of sale to the person who last appears as owner on the Collector’s tax rolls, at the last address shown on the tax rolls (Section 14-812). This notice is mailed on or about March 1 of each year. The Collector shall cause to be published, once a week for four successive weeks, a listing of the delinquent properties in one or more newspapers. This advertisement serves as notice to the property owners and any lien holders that the property tax lien is to be sold at tax sale.
The advertisement contains 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 and full cash value of the property as determined by the last assessment, and the tax sale amount. The amount advertised includes, or may include any one or combination of the following: delinquent taxes (State, County or Municipal), interest, penalty, and other charges. The amount advertised also includes an advertising fee and, if required, the cost of surveying and attorney’s fees, plus an administration fee to cover the County’s cost of holding the tax sale (Section 14-813).
Properties will also be advertised on the County’s dedicated website. Please click Advertisement for a copy of the tax sale advertisement which will be available on our website in May of each year. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this file. You can download it for free by clicking on this link: http://get.adobe.com/reader/?
Tax Sale Bidder Registration Information and Form
Prospective bidders must pre-register for the sale at the Washington County Treasurer’s Office. You may FAX your registration application to 240-313-2111. Registration closes at 4:00 pm on the Monday prior to tax sale. There will be no registration allowed on the day of sale. A copy of the Tax Sale Bidder Registration Application will be available on our website in May of each year. You can download Acrobat Reader for free by clicking on this link below.
Tax Sale Process
The sale will be conducted each year on the first Tuesday in June and will take place beginning at 9:00am (Eastern Time) in the rear of the Washington County Office Building Located at 35 West Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD. At the tax sale, a property tax lien is offered for sale to the highest bidder. Once sold and the total amount due is paid by the bidder/purchaser to the County, the County’s lien on the property passes to the bidder/purchaser.
Each parcel of property subject to sale shall be sold as an entirety as the parcel of property is assessed in the assessment records (Section 14-814). No property tax lien will be sold for a sum less than the advertised price. Tax lien certificates will be auctioned to the highest bidder.
Successful bidders/purchasers who do not make payment for the full amount due for all winning bids by the specified time are considered non-compliant and excluded from the auction. At that time, the County reserves the right to make the award to the next highest bidder until all tax liens are sold. The Collector reserves the right to take appropriate action under TP 14-817(a)(3) including but not limited to the right to refuse to accept bids that are not made in good faith and the right to bar a purchaser or holder of a certificate from participating in future tax sales held by the County. At the County’s option, properties not sold will be offered for sale, at a later date, to the highest bidder until sold. Sale process. Once the Tax Sale is complete, these unsold properties are no longer available for sale.
Certificate of Sale
The Collector will deliver to the purchaser a certificate of sale. The certificate sets forth the fact that the property tax lien described therein was sold by the Collector to the purchaser, the date of sale, the amount paid, and the interest rate for redemption. The certificate is null and void if an action to foreclose the right of redemption is not instituted by the holder within two years from the date of certificate. Thereafter, all rights of the purchaser of the certificate cease (Section 14-820). Certificates of sale will be prepared and delivered within six months of the tax sale. A receipted listing of all property tax liens purchased and the amounts paid will be issued to the purchaser.
Any certificate of sale, properly executed, can be assigned. The assignment vests in the assignee all the rights, title and interest of the original purchaser (Section 14-821).
The certificate of sale may be recorded among the land records of the County. However, failure to record does not in any manner affect the right to institute foreclosure proceedings within the time limits prescribed (Section 14-822).
The certificate of sale is presumptive evidence in all courts, in all proceedings by and against the purchaser, of the truth of the statements therein (Section 14-823).
Redemption by Owners
Property owners may redeem their property any time prior to the issuance of a court decree foreclosing the right of redemption. All redemption fees must be paid by certified funds. To redeem property, owners must pay the amount paid by the bidder at tax sale, additional interest of 6% per annum (calculated from the day of the sale to the day of redemption) and any new taxes that have accrued. If the property is redeemed after four (4) months from the date of Tax Sale, the bidder may also charge legal fees and expenses to the property owner. In this case, the property owner must obtain a Letter of Release prior to redemption.
Purchasers can begin foreclosure proceedings six (6) months and one (1) day from the date of sale, and have up to two years from the date of the certificate of sale to start these proceedings. The owner or other person having an estate or interest in the property sold has the right to redeem the property tax lien at any time until the right of redemption is finally foreclosed by an order of the Circuit Court (Section 14-827). During this period of redemption, the owner of the property has the right to continue in possession of and to exercise all rights of ownership until such time as the right of redemption is foreclosed (Section 14-830).
To redeem a property tax lien, the owner shall:
1. Determine the redemption amount and the need to obtain a release for actual and reasonable expenses from the certificate of sale holder by calling the County Treasurer’s Office at 240-313-2110.
2. During the first four months after the date of the tax sale, properties may be redeemed without payment of the expenses of the certificate of sale holder, including legal fees;
3. Reimburse the certificate of sale holder for actual and reasonable expenses incurred after a four month waiting period in preparation for any action to foreclose the right of redemption, and obtain a release from the certificate of sale holder, the plaintiff, or their attorney, that all reimbursable fees and expenses, if any, were satisfied; and
4. Present the release to the Collector and pay all redemption amounts due described below and all taxes in arrears after the tax sale to bring the tax account current. The redemption amount includes the amount due at tax sale, any interest computed from the date of the tax sale to the date of the redemption payment (Section 14-828), and reimbursement to the certificate of sale holder for actual and reasonable expenses incurred after a four month waiting period in preparation for any action to foreclose the right of redemption, including fees paid for recording the certificate of sale, for actual and reasonable attorney’s fees for each certificate of sale, for expenses incurred in the publication and service of process by publication, for reasonable fees for a necessary title search, and for taxes (together with interest and penalties) arising after the date of sale that have been paid by the plaintiff or the holder of the certificate of sale (Section 14-843). The current redemption interest rate, as stated on the certificate of sale, is 6 percent per annum. Redemption payment must be made by certified check, cashier’s check, money order, or cash to Washington County Treasurer.
When all redemption obligations are satisfied by the owner, the Collector shall:
1. Notify the holder of the certificate of sale that the property was redeemed and that the certificate must be surrendered to the Collector prior to payment of any amount; and
2. Upon receipt of the certificate of sale, the County will remit all money received for redemption and the high bid premium to the holder of the certificate (Section 14-828(c)).
3. Redemption payments will only be made for those properties that the certificate of sale has been returned to the County.
The County will refund the high-bid premium, without interest, to the holder of the tax sale certificate on redemption of the property tax lien or to the plaintiff in an action to foreclose the right of redemption on delivery of a tax sale deed for the property for which the high-bid premium was paid. The high-bid premium is not refundable after the time required (under Section 14-833) for the filing of an action to foreclose the right of redemption, if there has been no redemption and if an action to foreclose the right of redemption has not been filed within that time.
If an action by the holder of the certificate to foreclose the right of redemption was filed and there is a dispute regarding redemption, an order of the Court is required before the County will release payment (Section 14-829).
Suggested format for this release are attached. The property owner is provided with the telephone number of the purchaser of the certificate of sale and is required to secure such release.
Actions to Foreclose
The holder of a certificate of sale may at any time after the expiration of six months from the date of sale, file a complaint in the Circuit Court to foreclose all rights of redemption of the property to which such certificate relates. If this action is not taken within a two-year period subsequent to sale, the certificate is void (Section 14-833).
The certificate of sale must be attached and made a part of the complaint (Section 14-835). The plaintiff in any action to foreclose the right of redemption must be the holder of the certificate of sale. The defendants in the proceedings must be (a) record owner(s) of the property, (b) owner of ground rents, if applicable, (c) mortgage holders and trustees under any deed of trust, (d) the State of Maryland, and (e) the County (Section 14-836).
If the court enters a final judgment for the plaintiff, the judgment vests in the plaintiff an absolute and indefeasible title in fee simple. If the property, on which the tax lien sold, was subject to ground rent, the judgment vests a leasehold interest in the plaintiff (Section 14-844).
The final judgment of the Court will direct the Collector to execute a deed upon payment to the Collector, the balance of the purchase price, together with all taxes, interest, penalty and charges accruing subsequent to the sale. The deed is to be prepared by the holder of the certificate of sale or an attorney. The Collector is not obligated to execute the deed until the Clerk of the Court has furnished the Collector with a certified copy of the judgment. If the holder of the certificate does not comply with the terms of the final judgment within 90 days, the judgment may be stricken by the Court upon the motion of an interested party (Section 14-847).
Once a judgment is granted, the plaintiff becomes liable for taxes due after the judgment and for any surplus bid (Section 14-844(d)).
Any person who acquires a deed to property under this subtitle is entitled to issuance of a writ for possession of the property under the Maryland Rules as if the person had obtained a judgment awarding possession of the property (Section 14-850).
Any questions regarding this tax sale information and procedures may be directed to the County Treasurer’s Office by calling 240-313-2110, sending an e-mail to: email@example.com, or mailing your correspondence to the Washington County Treasurer’s Office, 35 West Washington Street, Suite 102, Hagerstown, MD 21740.
This information is provided as a courtesy to any interested party. Washington County does not warrant the accuracy of the information contained herein. You should refer to State and Local Statutes for more detailed and precise information. Washington County may not provide you with any legal advice.