FOX 5 EXCLUSIVE: Maryland to pay $11 million to homeowners after tax error

The state will pay over $11 million in refunds to some Maryland homeowners after a Montgomery County man uncovered a mistake by the state taxation department. 

READ MORE: Lawmakers want millions in refunds for Maryland taxpayers after error

State lawmakers unanimously passed a bill to provide refunds which is awaiting a signature by Gov. Larry Hogan. 

This money will primarily go to people in Montgomery Co. and Baltimore City. The homeowners impacted were shorted on the Homeowners Tax Credit (HTC) which is for homeowners with a family income of $60,000 or less. 

READ MORE: Maryland shortchanges taxpayers millions of dollars, according to state audit

Louis Wilen of Olney 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.

"I did put a lot of work into it," said Wilen. "I didn’t anticipate putting so much work into it, but it just kept building."

Now his work has paid off, literally, for thousands of people. 

FOX 5 first talked to him at his Olney home last year about the mistake he found. SDAT claimed they were not in the wrong, but a 2020 audit said otherwise. Wilen is mentioned as tipping off auditors to the problem.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

"People became aware of what happened and that put a lot of pressure on us to do the right thing," said Del. Al Carr (D-Montgomery County).

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, providing up to three years worth of refunds. Carr said Tuesday that money should be coming before the year’s end. 

"I admire Louis," he said. "One person absolutely can make a difference."

Instead of taking a victory lap, Wilen is back at it. He says the state mistake means people who received the HTC in Montgomery Co. were shorted $692 a year by the state, which they will receive, but 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.

Wilen provided FOX 5 his many emails with county leaders trying to get clarity on the situation. 

Representatives for the county council and county executive say they are looking into it and have requested relevant tax data from the state. 

Carr said SDAT has said the agency will have more information on refunds in a few weeks.