Maryland Passes New Vacancy Tax Law

The law allows local jurisdictions to set tax rates for vacant lots and properties to discourage speculation and stimulate development.

1 minute read

May 3, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of Annapolis, Maryland with state capitol dome in foreground.

Maryland state capitol in Annapolis, Maryland. | tamas / Adobe Stock

A new Maryland state law signed by Governor Wes Moore, House Bill 2, allows local governments to impose higher taxes on the owners of vacant properties, reports Danielle J. Brown for Maryland Matters.

The bill is part of an effort to reduce the number of underused and vacant lots and encourage development and housing construction. “Baltimore City Councilmember Odette Ramos explained that raising the taxes on vacant property could help reduce the number of abandoned houses and lots in two ways: to incentivize property owners to revitalize the lot for habitation and to make it easier for local jurisdictions to acquire the abandoned property.”

A legislative analysis reveals that there are 242,361 vacant properties across Maryland. Brown notes that “The law does not establish a required tax rate on vacant properties, but it provides the authority for local jurisdictions to do so at their own volition.” Higher taxes can speed up the process of “judicial in rem foreclosure,” letting the city acquire properties for redevelopment more quickly.

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