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WQPC Hardship Waivers and Appeals

Property owners can apply for a hardship exemption, appeal their WQPC or combine multiple properties together for the purpose of calculating their charge.  

Jump to the section by clicking the links below: 

 Hardship exemptions: A hardship exemption is where a property owner has a reduced charge due to financial limitations.  Hardship exemptions apply to residential property owners and 501(c)(3) property owners. 

 Appeals: If a property owner believes that the Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) has been assigned or calculated incorrectly, the property owner may appeal the charge.  All property owners can appeal a charge. 

 Combining Multiple Properties:  If you own multiple properties and would like them to be combined together for the purposes of calculating the Water Quality Protection Charge, file an appeal. 

 

Deadlines:

Hardship Exemptions:  Applications for hardship exemptions are due by September 30th anually,

Appeals and Combining Multiple Properties: Appeal forms must be submitted by September 30th, the year the charge is due. 

 

Do I Qualify for a Hardship Exemption?

 

Residential property owners:

To qualify for an exemption, your household income must not exceed 170% of the Federal poverty level or you must be appoved for benefits under the Maryland Energy Assistance Program for the current billing year.

View the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Federal poverty guidelines.

The residential hardship exemption application must be submitted by September 30th annually.

Apply Now!

 

501(c)(3) Entities:

Entities that are 501(c)(3) and exempted from property taxes are eligible for a partial exemption for the amount of the Water Quality Protection Charge that exceeds 0.2% of the property’s total revenues.

From the law:

The request submitted by a non-profit organization must be accompanied by the organization’s most recent federal tax return or other verification of total revenues derived from the property for which the exemption is sought, as required by the Director of Finance. To qualify for a partial exemption: (i) the amount of the Charge must exceed 0.2% of the organization’s total revenues from the property for which the exemption is sought for the year before payment of the Charge is due; and (ii) the property for which the exemption is sought must be exempt from real property ad valorem taxation under State law. The amount of the partial exemption is the amount of the Charge that exceeds 0.2 percent of the non-profit’s total revenues derived from the property.

The 501(c)(3) hardship exemption application must be submitted by September 30th annually.  

Apply Now!

 

Filing an Appeal

 

If a property owner believes that the Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) has been assigned or calculated incorrectly, the property owner may petition the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection for an adjustment by submitting a written request, using the appeal form.

The appeal must be submitted no later than September 30 of the year that payment of the charge is due.

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The property owner must provide:

  1. A detailed statement of the basis for the petition, and
  2. Documents supporting the assertion that the property should be assigned a different classification; or that the impervious area measurements used to calculate the equivalent residential units for the property are incorrect; or that the property is not subject the WQPC under the applicable law.

Complete the online appeal form 

Appeal forms should be EMAILED to WQPC.Appeals@montgomerycountymd.gov, or MAILED to: Director, Dept. of Environmental Protection, 255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120, Rockville, MD 20850.

Within 60 days after receiving the petition, the Director will review the WQPC assigned to the property and make a written determination of whether the property owner's request for an adjustment of the charge should be granted or denied.

 

Contiguous Single Owner Properties

Property owners can apply for combining contiguous single-owner property accounts into one.

If the property spans multiple tax accounts, you can appeal to have the separate accounts combined into one for the purposes of calculating the WQPC. If you would like to submit an appeal, please fill out the form above.

Combining contiguous single-owner properties is part of the appeal form and must be submitted no later than September 30 of the year that payment of the charge is due.

Complete the online appeal form 

 

Frequently Asked Questions on the Appeals Process

 

Appeals Questions

How Does the County Calculate My Property’s Impervious Surface Area?

Impervious surface data was gathered from imagery through geographic information systems (GIS) available from Montgomery County and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. To view the aerial image of your property that was used to determine your Charge, go to the View Your Bill page.

 

What Counts as Impervious Surface Area?

Impervious areas are any surfaces which don’t allow rainwater or melting snow to be absorbed into the ground. The impervious surfaces of your property used to calculate the WQPC include:

Included in the WQPC: Not Included in the WQPC:
  • Building area 
  • Patio area 
  • Attached or detached garage building area 
  • Walkways 
  • Driveways 
  • Basketball/tennis courts 
  • Private parking lots 
  • Other paved areas, such as concrete or asphalt 
  • Pools (Patios and paved areas around the pool are included) 
  • Wooden decks 
  • Front porches 
  • Public sidewalks 
  • Agricultural business buildings such as barns or silos 
  • Agricultural driveways or walkways 

 

Why is My Gravel Driveway Counted as Impervious?

The Department follows the definitions included in the Stormwater Design Manual published by the Maryland Department of the Environment when determining what constitutes an impervious surface. According to the Design Manual, brick surfaces are impervious and gravel surfaces used by vehicles or heavy machinery are also impervious.

View the page of the Stormwater Design Manual on driveway and road imperviousness. (PDF, 36KB)

The Manual relies on studies showing that gravel and dirt areas used for vehicle access or parking have diminished moisture holding capacity and display drainage characteristics similar to asphalt or concrete. Compaction of the gravel, and the soil underneath it, significantly reduces its permeability compared to natural permeable surfaces. Therefore, even though the gravel would seem to be pervious, it actually becomes impervious. 

 

Is My Pool Included as an Impervious Surface?

Montgomery County does not include the area of the pool containing water in the WQPC calculations. Only the paved area around the pool, such as the patio, would be included in the WQPC.

 

I Have Permeable Pavement for My Driveway but that Area was Still Included in My WQPC. Why?

Stormwater treatment devices such as permeable pavement and risers are included as part of impervious surfaces because they were developed land. However, property owners can use them to apply for credit (or reduction) off the WQPC.

 

My Block Doesn’t Have Storm Drains. Why Should I Pay the WQPC?

Water does not need to flow through storm drains to become stormwater pollution. Rainwater can pick up trash, pollutants and oils while flowing over driveways and other paved surfaces and then flow directly into streams. Furthermore, development and paved surfaces prevents water from being naturally absorbed into the ground, creating large amounts of runoff that flow quickly into our streams causing erosion and flood conditions. Stormwater is a major problem in urban and suburban parts of the County and can be also seen in rural areas too.

 

 

I Own Multiple Properties. Can I Combine the Properties Together for the Purposing of Calculating the WQPC?

Yes. Property owners can apply for combining contiguous (no separation such as a road between properties) single-owner property accounts into one. Petition the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection for an adjustment by submitting a written request as an appeal.

If the property spans multiple tax accounts, you can appeal to have the separate accounts combined into one for the purposes of calculating the WQPC. If you would like to submit an appeal, please fill out the appeal application.

Appeals, Hardship Exemptions and the 2013 Phase-In

I Believe my WQPC was Calculated Incorrectly. How Do I Appeal the Charge?

If a property owner believes that the Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) has been assigned or calculated incorrectly, the property owner may petition the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection for an adjustment by submitting a written request using the online appeals form.

 

When is the Deadline for Filing an Appeal to the WQPC?

Appeals must be submitted no later than September 30 of the year that the payment of the charge is due.

 

I Own Multiple Properties. Can I Combine the Properties Together for the Purposing of Calculating the WQPC?

Yes. Property owners can apply for combining contiguous (no separation such as a road between properties) single-owner property accounts into one. Petition the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection for an adjustment by submitting a written request, using the online appeals form.

If the property spans multiple tax accounts, you can appeal to have the separate accounts combined into one for the purposes of calculating the WQPC. If you would like to submit an appeal, please fill out the appeals form.

 

What is a Hardship Exemption and Who Can Apply?

A hardship exemption is where a property owner has a reduced charge due to financial limitations. To qualify for an exemption, your household income must not exceed 170% of the Federal poverty level or you must be approved for benefits under the Maryland Energy Assistance Program for the current billing year. The property owner may petition the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection for an adjustment by submitting a written request.  There are separate applications for residential properties and 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

 

Can 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organizations Apply for an Exemption?

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can receive a partial exemption for the amount of the WQPC that exceeds 0.2% of the property’s total revenue.

 

When is the Deadline for Filing a Hardship Exemption to the WQPC?

Hardship exemptions must be submitted by April 1st annually. 

 

What is the 2013 Phase-In Program?

Due to the expansion of the WQPC, many nonresidential properties received the WQPC for the first time in 2013, and for a small percentage of residential owners, their charge increased from 2012 to 2013. To assist with the adjustment to the WQPC, any increases in the WQPC in 2013 due to the expansion will be phased-in over three years.

 

Who Does the Phase-In Apply To?

The Phase-In applies to:

  • Property owners who received the WQPC for the first time in 2013;
  • Property owners whose WQPC increased due to the new calculation structure in 2013

 

How Does the 2013 Phase-In Work?

Eligible property owners who received an increase to their WQPC on their 2013 Tax Bill, will have 2/3 of the increase applied to them in 2014.

Percentage of WQPC Increase Reflected on the Property Tax Bill by Year
2013 33%
2014 66%
2015 100%

The Phase-In is only for increases to the WQPC assessed in the 2013 Tax Year. If your WQPC increases in the future for whatever reason, then you will have to pay for that increase in full.