Millions of dollars have been refunded to Maryland taxpayers after an error calculating a state tax credit, and now FOX 5 has exclusively learned that millions more will be given back.
On Tuesday, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the county will be issuing refunds.
"People are going to get refunds, $8 million of refunds going out to residents," Elrich said. "It was the state’s mistake, not ours, but we’re paying for it."
FOX 5 was first to report on the state’s miscalculation of the Homeowners Tax Credit (HTC) after a state audit detailed the mistake.
HTC is a tax credit for low-come and senior homeowners. People impacted by the state error primarily live in Montgomery County and Baltimore City.
In the last few weeks, refunds from the state totaling $8 million have been arriving in mailboxes. The state said over 5,000 people received refunds.
The error was discovered back in 2016 by Louis Wilen, a retired computer programmer who lives in Olney.
For years, Wilen lobbied both state and county leaders sounding the alarm that people were being shorted their HTC because the state was unnecessarily deducting other tax credits from it. Finally, after the audit, state lawmakers agreed to pay people back for the last three years. Some checks totaled over $2,000.
But in addition to that state money, Wilen has maintained Montgomery County owes people too, specifically seniors eligible for the county’s $346 yearly senior supplement.
Elrich said as soon as the county receives eligibility data from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation, $8 million in refund checks will go out.
"Hopefully by the end of the year, if not, January," Elrich said. "But this should happen very quickly."
He said the county will issue refunds for the past three years which will mean $1,000 checks for some.
Andy Chai of Olney received a state refund check and said he planned to invest the money in his home, perhaps building a new fence. He said he was excited to learn another check may be coming his way.
"Just thanks to Louis," Chai said "He did tremendous work."
Wilen happens to be his neighbor.
"This is my hero," he said motioning to Wilen.
One man’s curiosity and persistence has paid off for thousands.
"I had no idea how many people are impacted by this," Wilen said. "I mean, there were people impacted in Baltimore city, a lot of people in Montgomery County. All of a sudden people are saying, ‘Yeah, thank you.’ And that’s fine. They didn’t really need to."