In Maryland, most Montgomery County residents and business owners do not realize that they are paying the County the “rain tax,” for the privilege of having impervious surface (like driveways) on their property. The tax, called the Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC), is tucked into property owners’ tax bills as a line item. It is collected to raise funds to improve the water quality of streams and reduce the impact of stormwater runoff. All property owners in Montgomery County pay the WQPC, including businesses, HOAs and non-profits. It is calculated based on the potential for a property to contribute to stormwater runoff. Larger, more developed property produces more runoff and therefore typically pays a higher charge.
Many people are eligible for WQPC credits, and can apply online. Credits of up to 80% of the charge are available to owners who maintain stormwater management practices on their property. These practices include landscaping techniques or structures that can help reduce stormwater runoff. Examples include rain gardens, swales, permeable pavement, conservation landscapes, bioretention gardens and rain barrels. The amount of the credit is based on the type of stormwater management and the volume of water treated. More intensive practices, such as ponds and bioretentions treat a lot of stormwater and give property owners a large credit. Less intensive practices, such as rain barrels, cisterns and rain gardens, provide a smaller credit.
The goal of the credit program is to provide incentives to property owners for meeting stormwater standards which best mimic pre-developed conditions and controls and treats stormwater to the maximum extent practicable. There is a county program, RainScapes, that can help offset the cost of installing a stormwater management practice.
You can apply for your credit online at MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/WQPC. If you would rather not deal with bureaucratic red tape, the Pels Law firm can file for WQPC credits for you. We simply would need a letter giving us permission to do so, a copy of your property tax bill, and photos of anything you have on your property that slows stormwater or allows it to be distributed into the ground on your property. If any part of a credit application is denied, the Pels Law firm has successfully appealed such denials.