July 24, 2019

SMART FAQ About Property Tax in Washington, DC

SMART FAQ About Property Tax in Washington, DC

DISCLOSURE: The facts provided in this article are for informational purposes only and are deemed accurate at the time of publication. For the most updated information, visit the website of the DC Office of Tax and Revenue.

If you own residential real estate in the District or are considering buying property there, it’s important to know your property tax obligations. Lucky for you, SMART has gathered that tax information right here!

Key Dates

In Washington, DC, the tax period runs from October 1st through September 30th. DC property taxes are paid in arrears. Real estate taxes are due bi-annually — the first half of the payment is due on March 31st and covers the previous October 1st through March 31st; and, the second half of the payment is due by September 15th, which covers the previous April 1st through September 30th. Tax bills come out about a month before they are due.

Tax Fees and Rates

Your property tax fees include real property taxes, transfer and recordation taxes, and vacant or blighted taxes (if applicable).

Tax Type Description Rate
Real Property A Class 1 residential property, including homes with multiple families. $0.85 per $100 of the property’s consideration or fair market value.
Deed Transfer Collected by the OTR after every real estate transaction. Covers the transfer of the title. 1.1% of consideration or fair market value* if under $400,000; 1.45% if $400,000 or more.
Deed Recordation Collected by the OTR after every real estate transaction. Covers the recordation of the deed. 1.1% of consideration or fair market value if under $400,000; 1.45% if $400,000 or more.
Vacant or Blighted A vacant building is an unoccupied building. A blighted building is deemed unsafe, insanitary, or a threat to the health and welfare of the community. 1.45% of consideration or fair market value.

*Tax is based on the amount paid for at the time of the transfer. If there is no consideration or if the amount is nominal, then the basis of the tax is the fair market value of the property.

Because taxes in DC are paid in arrears, the homeowner must pay for the entire six-month period. So, if your closing occurs in the middle of a tax period for which you’ve already paid, you recoup the overage by having the buyer pay you the prorated amount. It is important to put this payment agreement in writing prior to closing. If the payment date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment is due on the next business day.

There are a few ways to make your tax payment. The easiest way is through the OTR’s online bill paying system. If you choose to pay your bill offline, make a check or money order payable to “DC Treasurer.” Be sure to include the top portion of your tax bill and the numbers for your square, suffix, and lot/parcel. Then, pay the bill in person at a DC Wells Fargo Bank or mail it to:

Government of the District of Columbia
Office of Tax and Revenue
Real Property Tax Administration
PO Box 98095
Washington, DC 20090-8095

Late payments are subject to penalty and interest charges. The penalty is 10% of the tax amount owed, and the interest is an additional 1.5% of the debt per month. The payment you make is applied to the oldest amount owed first. Failure to pay the full amount you owe can result in the property being sold at the annual Real Property Tax Sale.

For updates and more information, visit the OTR website or call the OTR at (202) 727-4829.

For additional information on this topic contact Evelyn Miller, Partner, at 202-753-7400.

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