Food Desert

Food Desert Incentive Area Personal Property Tax Credit

Baltimore City offers a personal property tax credit for supermarkets locating or renovating in food desert incentive areas in the City. The tax credit is part of the Food Policy Initiative, which is a cross-agency strategy and collaboration to provide access to healthy food choices for all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods.

Currently, one in four residents and nearly one in three children live in food deserts. Lack of access to healthy food choices contributes to disparities in life expectancy, which can differ up to 18 years. In addition, quality supermarkets often serve as a catalyst for increased economic development in the community.

Details about the tax credit and qualifications are the following:

Tax Credit
  • A 10-year, 80 percent credit against the personal property tax for supermarkets locating in or making significant improvements in food desert incentive areas
  • Personal property typically covers furniture, fixtures and equipment
Food Desert Incentive Areas are defined as the following:
  • A food desert is defined as an area where the distance to a supermarket is more than ¼ mile, the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, more than 30 percent of households have no vehicle available, and the average Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) score for all food stores is low
  • Within a ¼ mile of a food desert
  • Any area that would be considered a food desert but for the presence of a qualified supermarket
  • Must be located in a Food Desert Incentive Area
  • Have expanded on new personal property an amount equal to or greater than $150,000 or $25 per square foot
  • Must have at least 500 square feet dedicated to the sale of fruits and vegetables
  • Must have at least 500 square feet dedicated to the sale of other perishable goods including meat, seafood and dairy products
How to Apply for the Tax Credit:
        1. Applicants need to pre-qualify for the credit based on the location by filling out and submitting this form. Please allow 30 days from the date of submission for processing.
        2. Once the pre-qualification is granted, the business can proceed with the construction or renovation of the grocery store. Once it is complete, the applicant must submit the initial application form which can be found here to request verification of the tax credit qualifications. This application must be received by October 1 in order to be considered for the credit in the tax year that begins January 1 of the next calendar year.
        3. Once a tax credit is granted, annual qualification is required for the ten-year period of the personal property tax credit. For continuing eligibility, this form must be submitted each year. The form must be received by November 30 of the year prior to the tax year for which continuing eligibility is sought. To read all the rules and regulation, please click here.


The Baltimore Food Policy Initiative is a collaborative effort of the BDC, the Baltimore City Health Department, the City’s Department of Planning and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

To determine if a location is in a food desert incentive area, please visit CityView and type in the address in the search box on the left hand side of the page.  For more information, email