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  • When are my real estate taxes due?

    Tax bills for real estate are issued in July of each year and are due immediately. There are several options for payment, but if a bill remains unpaid, the property will be "sold" at our annual tax sale the first Monday in June.

  • My mortgage company pays my tax bill. Why did I receive a bill?

    The law requires us to send a bill to each property owner as the property owner is ultimately responsible for payment of the taxes. Your mortgage company can obtain a copy of your bill electronically by visiting our website. It is up to you to check with your mortgage company to see if they are paying promptly. We recommend that you forward a copy of your tax bill to your mortgage company if they are responsible to pay your property taxes.

  • I received a "half-year new construction bill". My mortgage company has no record of it and did not escrow it. What is this bill?

    The "half-year new construction bill" is levied on new construction that has occurred since the cut-off for the regular July billing. Typically the July bill reflects the tax on the undeveloped lot and the "half-year" bill is for the new construction when a house is completed.

  • How can I be sure that my mortgage company pays promptly?

    You can now check the status of your account on-line. To do so, you will need to click on "Check Your Account" and enter either your account number or address. You can also call our office at (410) 996-5385 or e-mail us at Typically, the mortgage companies send their payments the last week of July or September and the last week of December. Due to the volume of mail we receive, it may take extra time to process all the payments so please wait a week or so after the due date to call us.

  • Why does my bill say Principal Residence - Yes or No?

    "Principal residence - Yes" means that the property is the principal address of the owner, i.e. the property owner files their federal and state income tax returns from the property. "Principal residence - No" means that the owner does not occupy the property as their primary residence. Examples of non-owner occupied include vacation homes, rental properties, etc. Only owner-occupied properties are eligible for the Homeowner's Tax Credit and/or the Homestead Credit.

  • What is the Homeowner's Tax Credit?

    The Homeowner's Tax Credit is available to all homeowners regardless of age and is based upon household income. The credit is based on a formula which compares income to the amount of the tax bill and sets limits to the amount of tax billed. In order to qualify you must submit an application to the Department of Assessments and Taxation no later than September 1. You must reapply each year. For more information or to request an application, please contact the State assessment office at 410-996-2760 or email at or you may contact the Cecil County Finance Office at 410-996-5385.

  • What is the Homestead Credit?

    The Homestead Credit is designed to limit the tax liability for homeowners that experience rapidly rising assessments. Effective July 1, 2007, increases to assessments are limited to 8% for the County tax; prior to July 1, 2006 , the rate was 10%. The cap for each town may be different. Starting in 2008, the State will require you to apply for the credit. Please see the Notice regarding this credit. Please visit the State website at for more information.

  • Is there a credit for the elderly?

    No. However, you may qualify for the Homeowner's Tax Credit outlined above. There are also other credits that the State offers.

  • What payment options do I have?

    Most Homeowners will elect to make semi-annual payments. The service charge is $0. The first payment is due any time from July 1 through September 30 of the tax year.  The second payment is due in December. Payments received after December 31st are subject to interest and service charge.  If your taxes are escrowed, your mortgage company is required to pay in semi-annual installments unless you have notified them in writing by May 1 prior to the bills being issued.

    Two other payment options are available:

    1. You may pay your bill in full, without penalty or interest prior to September 30.
    2. You may elect to make three payments.  The first payment must be made on or before September 30. The second and third payments must be made before March 1 to avoid additional charges.  Interest is charged at the rate of 1% per month. See the back of the tax bill for more details.

    In all cases, bills not paid by March 1 will be assessed a 3% late penalty.  We advertise unpaid taxes 4 weeks prior to tax sale.  In order to avoid being advertised, payments should be made prior to May 1.  Tax sale is held the first Monday in June and will include any property whose taxes have not been paid by close of business the Friday before tax sale.

  • Do you accept credit cards?

    We accept most major credit cards at our office and on-line. To pay on-line (click here). Please note that all credit card services are through a third party and a convenience fee will be charged.

  • What do you charge for a dishonored check or returned check, i.e. NSF?

    Returned Check Notice (Dishonored Check): In accordance with Maryland Annotated Code Commercial Law Article § 15-802 and Maryland Annotated Code Criminal Law Article § 8-106 and § 8-107, Cecil County charges a $25.00 collection fee for any dishonored check. The County also reserves all other rights and/or remedies afforded under the aforementioned articles.

  • Do you require certified checks?

    Payments received after April 30 for delinquent taxes or utility bills must be paid with cash, certified check, money order or credit card.

  • I can't pay on time. My property is going up for tax sale. What is the procedure?

    Properties with outstanding taxes will be advertised in a local newspaper four (4) weeks prior to the tax sale. During this time, you may still pay with cash, certified check, money order or credit card. However, you may not pay on-line during this process. Certificates of unpaid property taxes are sold at the tax sale.  Once the property has been sold, the owner has six (6) months to redeem his or her property by paying the back taxes, interest, and penalties.  At this time, the owner must also pay the new taxes that will be billed in July. Additional legal fees may be incurred after four (4) months and after six (6) months the certificate holder may start foreclosure proceedings in the equity court.  For additional information contact the Cecil County Finance Office at (410) 996-5385 or e-mail the office at

  • How do I redeem my property from tax sale?

    Call the Cecil County Finance Office at (410) 996-5385 or e-mail us at

  • Am I eligible for a tax credit?

    Perhaps.  There is a Homeowner's Tax Credit that is based on your income. The form must be filed with the State Assessment Office every year.  Blank application forms are available in the Cecil County Finance Office or from the State Assessment Office.  There is no credit based on age. For other or additional tax credit information, visit the State Assessment Office website or contact them at 410-996-2760 or email at
  • How do I reach the State Assessment Office?

    Local telephone: (410) 996-2760 or email at sdat.cec@maryland.govClick here for real estate information.

  • How is the assessment determined? I believe it is incorrect.

    Your assessment is prepared by the State Assessment Office. Every 3 years, an assessor inspects your property and you receive an assessment notice. The assessment is 100% of the full cash value of the property. Questions regarding the assessment should be directed to the Assessment Office at 410-996-2760 or email at

  • What is the tax rate? Who determines it?

    A. The current tax rate (effective for July 2015 - June 2016) is $1.1027 per $100 of assessed value. The County's share is $.9907 and the State gets $.112. The County rate is determined annually by the County's Board of Estimates (the County Council). The rate is subject to change each new budget year. Town tax rates are determined by each town's governing board.

  • What is the Bay Restoration Fee or "flush tax"?

    Section 9-1605.2 of the Environment Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland created the Bay Restoration Fund which was established by the State of Maryland and is dedicated to improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. In order to provide funding for these water improvement projects, the State has assessed a "Bay Restoration Fee" to most property owners in Maryland. The County, Town or private utility provider is required to collect this fee on behalf of the State.

    The first part of the program began January 1, 2005, with the assessment of a $7.50 per quarter charge ($30 per year) on the sewer or water bills of property owners served by public utilities. The second part of the program became effective October 1, 2005, and requires us to collect $30 per year from property owners who have private septic systems and are not served by public water. The County has determined that adding this annual charge to the property tax bill is the most cost effective way to accomplish this.

    Effective 7/1/2012, the Bay Restoration Fee will increase to $15.00 per quarter charge ($60 per year) on the sewer or water bills of property owners served by public utilities. The Bay Restoration Fee increases to $60 per year on property owners who have private septic systems and are not served by public water. Other information on the Bay Restoration Fee.

    The fee that appears on the tax bill is only for those properties that are served by some type of private septic system; payment is not required on vacant land and properties served by public water and / or sewer will be billed via the utility bill. The list of County property owners who are served by private systems was compiled from many different sources. Please contact us immediately at 410-996-5385 or via email at if you believe you were erroneously charged.

  • What is the date, time and location of your tax sale? How often is it held?

    Tax sale is held annually on the first Monday in June at 10 AM (Eastern Daylight Savings Time). The tax sale will be held in the County's Administration Building at 200 Chesapeake Blvd.

  • How is it advertised?

    A. It is advertised in a local paper of general circulation for 4 weeks prior to the sale. This year, the sale will be advertised in the Cecil Whig.

  • When and how do I register for the sale?

    You may register at the County Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Blvd, Elkton, MD, on the day of the sale. You may also pre-register.

  • What are the payment requirements? Do you require a deposit?

    A. Cash, personal check, or certain credit cards. No deposit is required. Only the amount of taxes, interest and other associated fees including any applicable bid premium are due the day of the sale. The balance of bid will be required upon foreclosure.

  • What is the bidding process?

    We use an auctioneer and have live bidding. Effective with the tax sale held June 5, 2005, Cecil County will use the bid premium method as per section 14-817(b)(2)(i) of the Tax Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

  • What is "Bid Premium"?

    The bid premium system was designed to curb the excessive and chaotic bidding that has occurred in several jurisdictions throughout the state. If the successful bid exceeds 40% of the full cash value of a property, the bidder will be required to pay a 20% premium on the amount by which the bid exceeds that 40%. For example if the full cash value is $150,000 and the high bid is $70,000, the buyer would pay a premium of $2,000 calculated as follows: 40% of $150,000 (full cash value) = $60,000. $70,000 (bid) minus $60,000 (40% FCV) = $10,000. 20% of $10,000 = $2,000. The bid premium will be returned without interest to the buyer if the tax sale certificate is redeemed or if foreclosure is executed within 2 years of tax sale. If the property is neither redeemed nor foreclosed, the County retains the bid premium.

  • What type of document is issued after the sale?

    Immediately after the sale, the successful bidder will be issued a cash receipt showing the amount paid. In a few weeks the purchaser will receive a Certificate of Sale for Unpaid Property Taxes. The Cecil County Finance Office will notify property owners approximately 2 months after the sale if their property was sold.

  • What is the foreclosure process? Will the County handle the foreclosure process for a fee?

    The successful bidder may begin foreclosure proceedings six months and a day from date of tax sale if the owner has not redeemed the property. The balance of bid is due to the County when a decree has been issued to foreclose the right of redemption. The County will not handle foreclosure proceedings and it is suggested you contact your attorney for additional information.

  • What happens to liens that are not sold at tax sale? Can they be purchased directly from the County?

    If a property is not sold at tax sale, it may be purchased over the counter through the Cecil County Finance Office. However, in recent years all liens have been sold at tax sale and we expect this trend to continue.

  • Do you allow investors to invest in tax lien certificates without attending the auction? Can a representative bid on my behalf?

    We only accept bids made in person the day of the sale. You may send a representative, subject to the terms and conditions.
  • Who is eligible for this program?

    Any residential property owner who has lived at their property for at least 5 years and meets at least one of the following:

    1. Is at least 65 years old
    2. s permanently disabled and received benefits from Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Armed Forces or any other federal retirement program
    3. Is permanently disabled as certified by a physician

    In addition, the combined gross income of all people living in the home must not exceed $60,000.  Proof must be provided to meet these requirements.

    In the event the property is co-owned by two or more owners, all owners must sign the application even if they are not living in the home.

  • What part of my taxes is affected by the program?

    The deferral is only calculated on County property taxes and NOT the state or town portions of your property taxes.

  • How is the deferral amount calculated?

    The amount to be deferred is the amount that this year's County property taxes exceed the County property taxes that you paid last year. The total amount to be deferred over time may not exceed 50% of the assessed value of your property at the time of the initial application (example - $100,000 assessment value as of 7/1/06, 50% of assessment = $50,000 = maximum total amount of County taxes that can be deferred). If you are already receiving the Homestead Credit, the deferral will be calculated after deducting the Homestead Credit. In the event a discount was granted for early payment, it will not be considered in the calculation of the deferral.

  • What happens if I also receive a Homeowner's Tax Credit?

    The deferred amount would be calculated after the Homeowner's Tax Credit is deducted from your tax bill. Example: your property taxes paid for 2005 were $1,000.00. Your property taxes for 2006 are $1,200.00 and you have received a Homeowner's Tax Credit of $100.00 making your total taxes owed $1,100.00 ($1,200.00 - $100.00). The amount of taxes you could defer would be $100.00 ($1,100.00 - $1,000.00).

  • What is the difference between the Homeowner's Tax Credit and the Elderly /Disabled Deferral Program?

    For those who qualify, the Homeowner's Tax Credit Program actually reduces the amount of taxes you have to pay. The Deferral Program only postpones payment. Most people who qualify for the Deferral Program will also qualify for the Homeowner's Tax Credit. We strongly encourage people to apply for the Homeowner's Tax Credit before applying for the deferral. Even if you did not qualify for the HTC last year, you may be eligible this year.

  • Is the Deferral Program a permanent reduction in my taxes?

    NO. You are only postponing payment of a portion of your taxes. These taxes must be repaid if you cease to occupy the property as your principal residence, you cease to own the property, you do not pay the base amount of taxes and the property becomes subject to Tax Sale, if you fail to re-apply each year in a timely manner, or if your income increases beyond $60,000. In the event of your death, the taxes would have to be repaid by your estate or other co-owners of the property.

  • Will I be able to take the 2% discount for early payment of taxes?

    Yes, but only on the portion of taxes that are not being deferred. You would not receive the discount on the total tax bill.

  • Will I be charged interest on the deferral?

    No interest will be charged on the deferred portion of taxes.

  • Will the deferred taxes become a lien on my property?

    Yes, the deferred taxes will be recorded in the land records of Cecil County as a lien against your property and you must pay any fees associated with recording the lien.

  • Can I apply for both the Homeowner's Tax Credit and the Deferral?

    Yes. While most people who qualify for the Deferral Program will also qualify for the Homeowner's Tax Credit, there may be a few who only qualify for the Deferral. In the event you qualify for both, the deferral will be calculated after your taxes have been reduced by the HTC.

  • How do I apply for the tax deferral?

    You can either download the form or stop by the Cecil County Finance Office at 200 Chesapeake Blvd., Ste. 1100, Elkton, MD 21921 to pick up an application or you may call the office at 410-996-5385 and ask to have an application mailed to you. You must provide proof of age and / or disability as well as proof of income. Please read the instructions to determine what documentation is necessary. To be considered for a first-time tax deferral this tax year, your application MUST be received by our office by September 1.

    However, see "Do I have to apply each year?" if you have received a deferral before and are applying for a consecutive year.

  • Do I have to apply each year?

    Yes, you have to re-apply each year for the deferral. If you have received the tax deferral before and are applying for a consecutive year, then we request that the application be received by our office by May 1 and the signed Deferral Agreement be received no later than June 1 in order for the credit to be included in your July tax bill. If the application and the Deferral Agreement are not received by that dates outlined, then the July bill may not reflect the credit. in all cases, the application must be received no later than September 1 of any given tax year to be eligible for the credit.

  • What happens if I have my taxes escrowed by my mortgage company?

    While the Cecil County Finance Office will provide accurate information reflecting the deferral amount, it is possible that your mortgage company may overpay the property taxes which would result in a refund to the mortgage company and, ultimately, a refund to you. This process may take several months to complete. We recommend that you discuss this program with your mortgage company before you apply.

  • How will I know the total of my deferrals over the years?

    The County is required to include that information on your annual tax bill and you will see the cumulative amount of the deferral as well as any accrued interest.

  • How and when does the payment deferral terminate?

    There are several ways:

    • When the homeowner sells the property
    • When the homeowner dies and the surviving joint owner is not eligible
    • When the property becomes subject to Tax Sale
    • When the homeowner does not file an application on time in future years
    • When the homeowner earns more than $60,000 in a given year (example - homeowner inherits money). 

    However, the homeowner can reapply in the following year if his / her income falls below $60,000. If any of the situations listed above occurs then all deferred taxes become due and payable at that time.

    A homeowner may end the deferral at any time by giving written notice to the Cecil County Finance Office and paying the deferred taxes.

  • Is this tax deferral program mandatory?

    NO. If you are eligible you can choose to participate in the tax deferral program or you may continue to pay your property taxes in full each year. The choice will always be left to the property owner(s).