ANNAPOLIS, Md. - More than 5,000 Marylanders are owed nearly $8 million in refunds because of a tax error, first reported on by FOX 5.
Notification letters have been sent to homeowners owed money, with checks to follow beginning October 1, according to the Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation.
The department says 5,393 homeowners – primarily in Baltimore city and Montgomery county – will receive total payments amounting to over $7.94 million or an average of $1,473 per applicant, with amounts ranging from $1.61 to $2,076.
Louis Wilen, a retired computer programmer from Olney, discovered the tax error in 2016.
The homeowners impacted were shorted on the Homeowners Tax Credit (HTC) which is for homeowners with a family income of $60,000 or less.
Wilen discovered in 2016 that the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, or SDAT, was deducting other tax credits from the HTC. For four years, he sounded the alarm.
FOX 5 first talked to Wilen at his Olney home in 2020 about the mistake he found. SDAT claimed they were not in the wrong, but a 2020 state audit said otherwise. Wilen is mentioned as tipping off auditors to the problem.
Last spring, the state passed a bill to provide refunds to those who were owed. It was sponsored by Del. Al Carr of Montgomery County. The initial estimate was up to $11 million could be refunded.
Carr had tried before to get people refunds after Wilen told him about the issue. In 2017, his bill never got out of committee. This time it passed unanimously.
"I admire Louis," Carr said. "One person absolutely can make a difference."
Instead of taking a victory lap, Wilen continues to push for additional refunds for people in Montgomery County.
He says the state mistake means people who received the HTC in Montgomery County were shorted $692 a year by the state, which they will receive, but he claims eligible senior citizens were also shorted $346 by the county.
"It’s money that’s owed and it’s really up to the county to determine if they’re going to give that money back," said Wilen.
FOX 5 is continuing to follow up on the county’s plans.