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New property values could mean major tax increase For the first time in 30 years, about 100,000 homeowners in Prince George County will need to apply for the Homestead Tax Credit, a program that limits taxes on a home if it is a primary residence for the owner. The Homestead credit was set up in 1977 in Maryland to encourage homeownership and stabilize communities by keeping taxes down for longtime residents. The caps, which kicked in automatically in the past, keep the taxable value of an owner occupied home from rising more than 3 percent each year in the county. have to opt in, said James Keary, spokesman for Prince George County Executive Jack B. Johnson. important. They have to actually apply for the exemption. to do so could be costly. In Bowie, where the average taxable value of a house is assessments are expected to rise by 48.9 percent in the next three years. At the current tax rate of 96 cents for every of a home value, the annual property bill on that Bowie home could rise to in 2010 for those without the tax credit. For those with the credit, the amount would be about less. Many worry residents won respond to the enrollment notice sent with their normal assessment, though state officials plan to send reminders later. notice] is prominent if you read it, said Laurel City Councilman Mike Leszcz (At large), who said he is urging constituents to register. if all you looking at is the first page, there could be a problem. are based on property inspections and sales prices for surrounding homes, and are designed to calculate what a property would be worth if it were sold. The figures are used to determine what percentage the government will tax starting in July. State assessments are often different from private real estate bids, which tend to include each home amenities and be appraised using the higher priced homes in the area. mass appraisers, said James P. Soresi, county supervisor of assessments, who said the state often tries to base estimates on architectural features and the average selling price in the surrounding neighborhood. The first round of notices and application forms for the credit were sent out Dec. 30 in property tax bills to homes in Laurel, Bowie, Upper Marlboro and areas further south. Owners in other parts of Prince George will need to enroll in 2009 and 2010, when new reviews are done on their properties. Assessments for the central portion of the county, including Cheverly, Seat Pleasant, Capitol Heights and District Heights, will go out in January 2009. Bills and opt in forms for Oxon Hill, College Park, Greenbelt and other sites go out in early 2010. The registration process is a one time step to crack down on fraud, Soresi said. In past years, some owners across the state would claim multiple homes as their primary residence. would have a vacation house in Ocean City and claim that as their primary residence, too, Soresi said. they apply and they be put into the system. Then we be able to check each address. in the county eastern and southern sections that were recently reviewed rose dramatically. Home values in the most recent round are scheduled to rise on average by 48.9 percent for the next three years. Combined with commercial assessments in the same area, property values rose by about 51.6 percent overall, the second highest in the state. Baltimore city led the state in assessment jumps, with overall values soaring by 75 percent. Values in the eastern half of the county were boosted by sales that took place in 2005 and 2006 the height of the most recent real estate boom. Since 2006, prices have dropped and the volume of sales has slowed down to a virtual standstill. Still, county officials said the higher assessments show the value of the Prince George market and that homes will sell for more once the market picks up again. a very strong job market, said Keary, who pointed to high end retail and residential construction in the area. is still continuing, even now. It the only place [in the Washington area] that still has room to develop. agreed.