Comptroller Reminds Marylanders: Tax-Free Week is August 12-18

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 9, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot is reminding Marylanders that Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week begins on Sunday, August 12 and runs through Saturday, August 18.

The Comptroller is once again joining with the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) to promote a social media contest in which two winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively, to any Maryland university, college or trade school.

To enter the contest during Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, Maryland college students simply need to:

  • Take a Maryland-themed photo or video while shopping
  • Write a catchy caption
  • Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #shopmdtaxfree

Shoppers can like or follow the official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information. MRA, which is providing the scholarships, will select the two entries that best reflect the spirit of Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

From August 12-18, any single qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced $100 or less – regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time – will be exempt from the state’s six percent sales tax. The first $40 of any backpack or bookbag purchase is also tax-free.

Comptroller Franchot will be visiting the following local businesses this coming week to encourage shoppers to take advantage of these savings and to participate in the contest. Details about each visit will be released several days ahead of the planned stops.  

  • Monday, Aug. 13: Sassanova – 7134 Bethesda Ln., Bethesda
  • Tuesday, Aug. 14: Out of Stock MD – 218 N. Market St., Frederick
  • Wednesday, Aug. 15: The Preppy Redneck – 213A S. Talbot St., St. Michaels
  • Friday, August 17: Quiet Storm – 1 N. Division St., Ocean City

For more information on qualifying items, visit marylandtaxes.gov, email taxhelp@comp.state.md.us or call 410-260-7980 (Central Maryland) or toll-free at 1-800-MD-TAXES.  

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

                                        Alan Brody –  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Franchot Receives Honor for Financial Reporting

Comptroller Franchot Receives Honor for Financial Reporting

CAFR Awarded Highest Honor for 39 Consecutive Years

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (July 27, 2018) - A North-American government finance organization has awarded Comptroller Peter Franchot with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) honored Comptroller Franchot for Maryland’s fiscal year 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Received for the last 39 years, the award is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.

“As Maryland’s chief fiscal officer, I have been been a strong advocate for transparent government and I am proud of what my office and employees have achieved,” Comptroller Franchot said. “My goal is to keep the agency running in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

The CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet high standards of the program, including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users to read the publication. For more information on the award program, visit the GFOA here.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

                                        Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Two Baltimore Area Tax Preparers Guilty of Filing False Returns

BALTIMORE, Md. (July 24, 2018) - Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that two Baltimore-area tax preparers pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. 

Michael Anegbode, 29, of Windsor Mill, operated MK Tax Service. He pleaded guilty to three counts of filing false income tax returns and was ordered to pay $48,808 in restitution and serve three years’ probation. Uwagbale Oigbokie, 39, of Baltimore, operated Jovan Tax Service. He pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns and was ordered to pay $81,712 in restitution and serve two years’ probation.

Both Anegbode and Oigbokie prepared and filed false personal income tax returns which failed to reflect fees earned by filing false tax returns on behalf of numerous paying clients. Specifically, many of the tax returns filed on behalf of their clients included false information to fraudulently minimize the taxpayers’ Maryland tax liabilities and increase the tax refunds the taxpayers received from the Comptroller.

“These tax preparers had a responsibility to file honest returns,” said Attorney General Frosh. “They cheated twice. They falsely understated the taxes owed by their clients, and then they did not report the fees that they earned themselves. We will continue to pursue tax preparers and others who engage in this kind of fraud.”

“Protecting Marylanders from unscrupulous tax preparers is a top priority for my office,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Our Field Enforcement officers will continue to vigilantly investigate those who try to cheat our state and I want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for its partnership and its efforts prosecuting these cases.”

The case was investigated by the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division and prosecuted by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Arrests Three Men in Eastern Shore Cigarette Stop


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (July 2, 2018) - 
Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that agents from his Field Enforcement Division (FED) arrested three Philadelphia men who have been charged in Maryland as a result of a surveillance operation on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“My FED agents are dedicated to identifying criminals who try to cheat the system and use Maryland as a transportation conduit for their illegal activities,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Their vigilance protects Maryland businesses and levels the playing field for all.”

Agents said Quay Samuel Chaney, 54, was seen buying multiple quantities of cigarettes from various locations June 28 and concealing the cigarettes in the rear seat area of a 2008 Volvo. Chaney was a passenger in a car driven by Ronald Tucker, 59, and occupied by another passenger, Edward B. Johns, 65. The three then drove from Virginia into Maryland, where the car was stopped by police at Sheep House Road in Pocomoke, Worcester County.

Agents searched the vehicle and found 1,650 packs of contraband cigarettes, valued at $10,642.50 and representing a tax loss to the State of $3,300. The cigarettes and car were seized and all three were arrested.

Each man was taken before a Worcester County District Court Commissioner in Snow Hill and charged with a felony count of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor count of possession of contraband cigarettes.

Mr. Chaney is being held on a $16,500 bond at the Worcester County Detention Center. His preliminary hearing is set for July 24. Mr. Tucker and Mr. Johns were each released on personal recognizance. Both have hearings set for July 17.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Maryland Comptroller’s Office Wins Awards for Innovative Concepts


Comptroller Peter Franchot holds one of two awards from the Federation of Tax Administrators alongside Bureau of Revenue Estimates Director Andrew Schaufele and Deputy Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi, who received the awards on behalf of the agency at the FTA’s annual meeting.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 25, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot has announced today that his agency received two of six awards presented by the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA) at its annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month.

“I am very proud of my highly trained and professional staff and for the recognition the agency has garnered on behalf of Maryland’s taxpayers,” Comptroller Franchot said. “As the state’s chief fiscal officer, one of my top priorities is to make sure staff continually hones its leadership skills so the agency runs in the most efficient and effective ways possible. These two awards reflect the true meaning of my Three R’s of respect, responsiveness and results for the taxpayer.”

The awards recognized the agency’s Supervisor Enrichment Program facilitated by Sasha Vazquez and the Impact of Age Demographics on Tax Filing and Revenue Solution developed by Andrew Schaufele, Director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates. Deputy Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi, who recently was voted to serve on the Senior Executive Board of the FTA, accepted the awards on behalf of the Comptroller.

Award nominations were judged by a panel of former FTA Board of Trustees presidents who no longer work in state tax administration. Award winners were invited to make a presentation on their winning idea, approach or program.

Winning submissions were chosen from the most innovative, transferrable, effective and usable nominations that also “have that something special.” The awards program also gives members a forum to share outstanding success stories and for their peers to learn from creative thinking in tackling tax administration challenges.

Other state winners include: the Alabama Department of Revenue, the Florida Department of Revenue, the Washington State Department of Revenue and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Agents Charge Yacht Club Commodore in Alcohol Probe

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 18, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that charges have been filed against the Commodore of North Point Yacht Club, following an investigation of illegal sales of alcoholic beverages and business license violations at the Sparrows Point facility.

Bruce Stanley Martin, Jr., 44, of Rosedale, was charged on a criminal summons and release on his signature with the following charges: suffering the sale and possession of alcoholic beverages without a license; doing business without a traders license; and engaging in business without a sales and use tax license.

A trial date has been set for August 13.

“Enforcing the state’s alcohol laws to ensure all sales are legal as well as taxed appropriately is a top priority,” said Comptroller Franchot. “I am proud of the work my Field Enforcement agents do to help prevent alcohol sales to minors and to level the playing field so that the vast majority of Maryland businesses who play by the rules are not hurt by the few who choose to ignore state law.”

After verifying with the Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners that no license was issued to the club to sell alcoholic beverages, undercover agents from the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division visited the club on multiple occasions and bought alcoholic beverages. In addition, a search of the Comptroller’s State License Bureau revealed that the yacht club did not have the required State of Maryland Sales and Use Tax License and the State of Maryland Traders License.

On June 6, agents and inspectors of the Comptroller’s Enforcement Bureau served a search and seizure warrant at the North Point Yacht Club. A search was conducted and agents seized 1,811 containers of beer, 57 containers of distilled spirits and 21 containers of wine. Mr. Martin was present during the search.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Franchot Alerts Marylanders to Social Media Scam

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 6, 2018) - Reinforcing his commitment to protect Marylanders, Comptroller Peter Franchot today warned Maryland residents about a scam in which cyber thieves contact citizens via social media using an official-looking certificate about a large sum of money for a fee.

The scammers send messages using the Comptroller of Maryland and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) logos on an official looking “Certificate of Completion.” Recipients then are told they can access the money for a fee. Neither the Comptroller’s Office nor the IRS use social media to contact taxpayers in regard to tax matters or financial issues.

“Cyber thieves will go to any length to get taxpayers’ money, identity or financial information,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “This new scam is just the latest in a long line. As we investigate these cases, I want to warn everyone not to fall victim to unknown contacts who make promises that seem too good to be true. My office would never use social media to contact a taxpayer about a tax matter or financial issue. If you are contacted in this way, don’t reply, be cautious and notify my agency’s FED officers immediately.”

The Comptroller’s Office warns taxpayers to not reply to messages or emails requesting money, confidential information – especially your Social Security number – birth date, salary information or home address. If you receive a suspicious message or email, please call 1-800-MD-TAXES or email mdcomptroller@comp.state.md.us.

“Unfortunately, the availability and ease of use of technology allows criminals to convincingly deceive the public,” said Jeff Kelly, director of the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division.”Our agents investigate these incidents and do everything possible to bring these scammers to justice. We ask the public to contact the Comptroller’s Office before sending money or sharing personal information.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody -  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Franchot Reports $5.7M Rebate In Purchasing Card Program

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 5, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that the State of Maryland has received a $5.7 million rebate from U.S. Bank. The rebate is the result of 77 state agencies spending approximately $285 million on small purchases through Maryland’s Corporate Purchasing Card program for the period of April 26, 2017 through April 25, 2018.

“Maryland taxpayers expect us to make sure we protect their financial best interests and look for ways to save them money,” Comptroller Franchot said. “As part of my job as the state’s fiscal watchdog, my agency is dedicated to this task. The Corporate Purchasing Card program allows state agencies to make small purchases in an efficient and effective way, to provide accountability and to allow vendors to be paid in a timely manner.”

Under this program, the Comptroller’s Office issues one payment each month to U.S. Bank for all card purchases made during the previous month. Merchants are paid directly by VISA, usually within two business days of the purchase, which is shorter than the normal 30-day payment cycle. U.S. Bank pays a rebate when the State reaches pre-set purchase volumes. This contract for Purchasing Card services was approved by the Board of Public Works in 2013, with the new vendor U.S. Bank at a higher rebate percentage than the previous contract.

The State of Maryland first began using the VISA corporate purchasing card program in March 1997. Since then, the State has purchased more than $4 billion worth of goods and services while earning $62.6 million in rebates.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us

410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody –  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)

Comptroller Franchot Announces 6-Month Extension of Sales Tax Deadline for Ellicott City Businesses

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 29, 2018) – To assist Ellicott City-area businesses affected by this weekend’s destructive storm and extensive flooding, Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced a six-month extension for Howard County business tax returns due and has established a special flood assistance email address.

“During this time of terrible loss, this is one thing we can do to ease the burden on business owners who are just beginning to assess the damage and consider next steps,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Each time I’ve visited Ellicott City, I’m struck by the spirit of the business community, its charming storefronts and its importance to our state’s economy. My staff stands ready to help these wonderful merchants, who have shown such courage and resilience these past two years.”

The extension includes Sales & Use Tax, Withholding Tax and Admissions & Amusement Tax. Taxpayers who file and pay by the extended due date will receive a waiver of interest and penalties. The Sales and Use Tax vendor discount will apply as long as the returns are filed and the taxes are remitted by December 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office also has issued a temporary waiver of International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) requirements for those providing emergency supplies and support to the areas impacted by the recent storms and flooding.

The agency has set up a special flood assistance email address –floodsupport@comp.state.md.us – to more quickly assist local businesses. For businesses in Catonsville and Oella affected by storm damage or flooding, owners should call the Comptroller’s Ombudsman Karen Scheerer or her assistant Sergio Hernandez at 410-260-4020 or email ombudsman@comp.state.md.us.

For other inquiries, businesses may call 410-260-7980 (from Central Maryland) or 1-800-638-2937 or email the Comptroller’s Office at taxhelp@comp.state.md.us.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us                                                      410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody –  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)