Comptroller Franchot to Help Raise Awareness of Elder Financial Abuse

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 5, 2018) – Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh will kick off PROTECT Week on Monday, January 8 at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville at an event to raise awareness about elder financial abuse and tax fraud prevention. The Comptroller will participate in the week-long campaign, which will hold several events focused on how Marylanders can avoid becoming a victim of these crimes (see schedule below).
Guidewell Financial Solutions, a Maryland nonprofit credit counseling agency, is leading the statewide campaign sponsored by Wells Fargo in partnership with the Offices of the Comptroller and Maryland Attorney General and several other agencies.
“Over the last 10 years, my office has detected and blocked more than 80,000 fraudulent tax returns worth over $185 million,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Victims of tax fraud – many of whom are vulnerable, older Marylanders – sometimes deal with the impact of this abuse for years in silence. That’s why education and awareness are key to keeping seniors safe.”
“There are huge risks that older victims of financial exploitation can face in terms of their personal financial health and overall economic well-being,” said President and CEO of Guidewell Financial Solutions Helene Raynaud. “We’re legally obligated to report suspected financial exploitation of older Marylanders. Raising awareness about the prevalence of this issue is imperative to prevention.”
Financial elder abuse is when someone uses an older adult’s property or money improperly or illegally. PROTECT Week is to raise awareness, to help Marylanders recognize the warning signs and to provide tools to intervene early when an older adult is in danger.
The schedule of events is as follows:
• Monday, January 8, 10:30 a.m. to Noon
Kickoff news conference at Charlestown Retirement Community Main Auditorium: 215 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228
Comptroller Franchot and Attorney General Frosh will kick off a presentation to safeguard financial well-being and to prevent financial harm and elder financial abuse. Also taking part are Wells Fargo, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers and Robert E. Frey of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
• Tuesday, January 9, 10:30 a.m.
Tele-Town Hall with AARP. To participate, register here.
Comptroller Franchot along with AARP Maryland and the AARP Fraud Watch network will take part in a telephone town hall with Guidewell Financial Solutions and Robert E. Frey from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to help Marylanders learn how to spot and avoid scams.
• Wednesday, January 10, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Park Senior Center, Multi-Purpose Room: 3950 Ferrara Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20906
The Comptroller’s Office will be part of a presentation on elder financial abuse fraud featuring EverSafe, the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. Speakers also will address policy issues for the first day of the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session.
• Thursday, January 11, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Riderwood, Montgomery Station Maryland Room: 3120 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904
Comptroller Franchot will join representatives from the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Crimes Against Seniors Division and the Maryland CASH Campaign to provide tips and highlight resources available to seniors to help protect their identities and prevent financial abuse and loss.
• Friday, January 12, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Charlotte Hall Veterans Home: 29449 Charlotte Hall Road, Charlotte Hall, MD 20622
Deputy Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi will take part in a presentation for Maryland’s veteran community on tax assistance and resources to help safeguard financial well being. Also participating are AARP, the Maryland CASH Campaign and Robert E. Frey from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated or is the victim of financial exploitation or fraud is urged to call the Maryland Department of Aging at 1-800-332-6347 or the police.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Joe 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 Opening of Tax Season January 29

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 5, 2018) – Comptroller Peter Franchot announced today that Maryland will begin processing personal income tax returns for Tax Year 2017 on January 29 – the same day the Internal Revenue Service begins accepting returns. The Comptroller’s Office will not immediately process a state tax return if W-2 information is not on file. Employers are required to report wage information to the Comptroller on or before Jan. 31.

Processing of business tax returns begins Monday, January 8.
This year, the filing deadline for 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17 rather than the traditional April 15. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday and Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – falls on April 16, which pushes the filing deadline to the following day.

Last year, the Comptroller’s Office stopped accepting income tax returns from 95 companies doing business in 113 locations for submitting numerous highly suspicious returns. Collectively, they filed thousands of state returns that the agency believed were fraudulent.

“In 2017, my office blocked more than 10,000 fraudulent returns worth more than $16 million,” said Comptroller Franchot. “I urge Marylanders to be on the lookout for those who want to steal taxpayers’ identities and personal financial information. Any taxpayer with concerns about a tax preparation business should call my office. We remain vigilant in our efforts to thwart these unscrupulous practices.”

Taxpayers are encouraged to file their returns electronically for the fastest possible processing and to ensure they receive all possible refunds. A list of approved vendors for use in filing your electronic return can be found at www.marylandtaxes.gov.

Free state tax assistance is available at all of the agency’s 12 taxpayer service offices Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A list of office locations can be found at www.marylandtaxes.com.

For more information on any tax-related matter, please visit Comptroller’s website at www.marylandtaxes.com or call 1-800-MD-TAXES (1-800-638-2937) or 410-260-7980 in Central Maryland.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Joe 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)

Marylandtaxes Online Services Scheduled Power Outage on Saturday October 14, 2017

The Marylandtaxes Online Services has scheduled a power outage on Saturday October 14, 2017 in order to perform maintenance on our primary and backup electrical systems; this outage will help us to prevent unscheduled outages in the future.

Please be aware of the following estimates for service interruptions:

  • The Online Services will be unavailable after 5:00 a.m. Saturday October 14 (after tape backups are completed). Online Services is scheduled to resume by 7:30 p.m. Saturday October 14.

You can check the ADC status by calling the ADC Help Desk at 410-260-7400 and taking option 2. If you have any questions please contact Kenneth Dodge (410-260-7203 kdodge@comp.state.md.us) or Mable Wright (410-260-6612 mwright@comp.state.md.us)

Franchot Releases FY 17 Closeout Numbers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (September 1, 2017) –  Emphasizing the need for fiscal caution during these uncertain economic times, Comptroller Peter Franchot today released the final closeout numbers for Fiscal Year 2017. General fund revenues totaled nearly $16.7 billion in the fiscal year, 0.5% or $90.3 million above estimates. However, the uncertain fiscal times and moderate wage growth translated into conservative consumer spending and sluggish growth in sales and use taxes.

After final transfers and revenues were counted, the State of Maryland closed the fiscal year with an unassigned General Fund balance of $256.3 million. By law, all but $10 million of this money is required to be appropriated in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget with $50 million going to the State Pension System and $196.3 million going into the Rainy Day Fund.

“While I am obviously pleased that the State has managed to outperform our modest forecasts, it is important that we put these numbers into their proper context,” said Comptroller Franchot. “We are living in very uncertain economic times and the dysfunction in Washington has the potential to impact Maryland more than most states. I urge the Governor and the General Assembly to steer a prudent course and save this money rather than putting it back into our state’s spending pattern.”

View the Closeout Report here.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Shapiro, 410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (cell)

Comptroller Franchot Warns Taxpayers of New Phishing Scheme Impersonating IRS and FBI

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 29, 2017) – Comptroller Peter Franchot is warning taxpayers to avoid a new phishing scheme that impersonates the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.

The IRS says the scam email uses emblems of both and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to select a “here” link to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomeware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.

“If you receive an email like this, don’t reply, download or respond in anyway. These tax scammers are after your hard earned money and personal financial information,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “My agency stands ready to help any Maryland taxpayer who gets an email like this and we remain vigilant in our united goal to protect citizens from these con artists.”

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industries – working in partnership as the Security Summit – are conducting an awareness campaign called Don’t Take the Bait that includes warning tax professionals about the various types of phishing scams, including ransomware.

  • Victims should not pay a ransom. Paying it further encourages the criminals, and frequently the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid.
  • Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Forward any IRS-themed scams to phishing@irs.gov.

 The Comptroller’s Office and the IRS do not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. If you are a tax professional and registered e-services user who disclosed any credential information, contact the IRS e-Services Help Desk to reset your e-service password.

The Comptroller’s Office also advises taxpayers not to reply to phone calls or emails asking for confidential information, most especially Social Security numbers, birth dates, salary information or home addresses. To report a problem, Maryland taxpayers may call 1-800-MD-TAXES or send an email to mdcomptoller@comp.state.md.us.

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Shapiro, 410-260-7438 (office), 443-871-2244 (cell)

Alan Brody, 410-260-6346 (office), 443-924-1473 (cell)

Transcript: Comptroller Tax Chat March 21,2013

(Mar 21 2013, 10:58:21 -07:00 PDT – Mar 21 2013, 12:19:17 -07:00 PDT)

 

Time From -> To Message
Mar 21
10:58:21
Tax Chat Moderator
-> Everyone
Thanks for joining us. We’re going to get started in a few minutes, but please feel free to submit questions now.
Mar 21
10:59:15
Patti
-> Panelist(s)
I am self-employed in MD. I have 1099s from DC and MD. However, I worked full-time (W2) in VA from Oct. 2012 – Feb. 2013. How do I file my state tax in MD? Do I need to file state tax in VA/DC as well?
Mar 21
11:03:49
VK -> Panelist(s) I pre-submitted my question
Mar 21
11:03:55
Patricia ->
Comptroller Franchot
I live in Maryland but I worked full-time in Virginia from October 17, 2012 thru February 20, 2013. How do I file my state income tax with MD? Do I also have to file in VA as well?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Patricia
Patricia, If you live in Maryland, file a Maryland return (502 return). You do not have to file anything with Virginia, unless they mistakenly withheld taxes from your income. In that case file with Virginia for a refund. Thank you for the question. BTW, file electronically please. Speeds up your refund. Peter
Mar 21
11:04:29
Patti
-> Panelist(s)
Thank You!
Mar 21
11:07:21
candy
-> Panelist(s)
I keep going to ifile to do my niece tax for free but not coming up to get started. What do I need to put in? This is her first time filing on her own and she is very low income
Mar 21
11:09:59
Patti ->
Comptroller Franchot
I am self-employed in MD. I have 1099s from DC and MD. However, I worked full-time (W2) in VA from Oct. 2012 – Feb. 2013. How do I file my state tax in MD? Do I need to file state tax in VA/DC as well?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Patti
Patti, See the response to the previous question from Patricia. You pay taxes in the state in which you are domiciled. To the extent you have paid taxes to another jurisdiction you may be able to claim a credit on your Maryland tax return.
Mar 21
11:12:25
Alana
-> Panelist(s)
I was laid off last year and can’t afford to pay what I owe right now. Should I not file until I can? I’ve never been in this situation before.
Mar 21
11:14:00
Veronica ->
Comptroller Franchot
If our company is based in Maryland and we have an employee working in Florida, should the employee be subject to Maryland state taxes? Also, if the employee worked part of the year here in Maryland and the other part in Florida, should all of the wages and withholding be subject to Maryland or just the wages?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Veronica
Veronica, If the employee works in Florida, then no withholding would be required unless they are a Maryland resident. If it is a Maryland company, then the company should withhold for the time the employee worked in Maryland. Good question, Almost had me stumped. Thanks, Peter
Mar 21
11:15:57
Marshall
-> Panelist(s)
Hello Mr. Franchot. I already filed my taxes, but it turns out I made an error that the IRS caught, in my favor fortunately so I got a bigger federal return. But since I already got my return from the state, will that automatically be adjusted or do I have to contact you to fix it?
Mar 21
11:16:56
candy ->
Comptroller Franchot
I keep going to ifile to do my niece’s tax for free but not coming up to get started. What do I need to put in? This is her first time filing on her own and she is very low income.
Comptroller Franchot
-> candy
Candy, Hard to answer your question without more information. Call Karen Scheerer, my taxpayer ombudsman at 410 260-4020. Tell her the comptroller referred you! Peter
Mar 21
11:17:21
nique
-> Panelist(s)
hello is there any way that i can print out a Maryland W2 form for my current job?
Mar 21
11:17:53
RedskinsGirl
-> Panelist(s)
To be eligible for free tax prep help from your office, what’s the income limit?
Mar 21
11:18:05
Glenn
-> Panelist(s)
Has my estimated taxes for 2013 been established?
Mar 21
11:21:14
candy
-> Panelist(s)
THANKS I will call in just a few minutes. HAVE A GREAT DAY !!
Mar 21
11:21:16
Alana ->
Comptroller Franchot
I was laid off last year and can’t afford to pay what I owe right now. Should I not file until I can? I’ve never been in this situation before.
Comptroller Franchot
-> Alana
Alana, Sorry about being laid off. These are tough economic time for far too many Marylanders. Definitely file by April 15. We will work with you for a reasonable payment plan likely free from penalties. We are on your side. For more information call 410 974-2432, and once again mention my name. Peter
Mar 21
11:22:44
Coffeeroll
-> Panelist(s)
Hi! I have a sales and use tax question: I’m based in Maryland and it’s primarily where I sell artwork. But if I wanted to do a show in Philadelphia would I collect sales tax for Maryland, Philly or both?
Mar 21
11:24:22
RedskinsGirl ->
Comptroller Franchot
To be eligible for free tax prep help from your office, what’s the income limit?
Comptroller Franchot
-> RedskinsGirl
I like your user name. Go Redskins! There is no income limit. We aspire to help all Marylanders, regardless of income. No questions asked. For more information about branch offices and hours of operation, please visit www.marylandtaxes.com. Good question. Peter
Mar 21
11:25:40
Max
-> Panelist(s)
Does a person on Medicaid pay MD state taxes? The person is 77 years old.
Mar 21
11:28:44
Jim_H
-> Panelist(s)
When or where can I get form and info to declare and pay
Mar 21
11:28:49
Marshall ->
Comptroller Franchot
Hello Mr. Franchot. I already filed my taxes, but it turns out I made an error that the IRS caught, in my favor fortunately so I got a bigger federal return. But since I already got my return from the state, will that automatically be adjusted or do I have to contact you to fix it?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Marshall
Marshall, Generally, it is better to file an amended state return within 90 days (Form 502X, available on website). You will get a quicker resolution to any appropriate state refund. Peter
Mar 21
11:29:44
Jim_H
-> Panelist(s)
When and where can I get forms and info to pay 2013 estimated tax?
Mar 21
11:31:42
OC
-> Panelist(s)
My son had his first summer job as a waiter, but didn’t keep track of his tips. How do I know what his income really was?
Mar 21
11:32:04
Max ->
Comptroller Franchot
Does a person on Medicaid pay MD state taxes? The person is 77 years old.
Comptroller Franchot
-> Max
Max, It depends on the income level of the taxpayer. Generally speaking, less than $11,200 income for someone over 65 means they do not have to file a state return, regardless of medicare or medicaid. Peter
Mar 21
11:32:38
Natitude
-> Panelist(s)
I have an odd question. I know for a fact that my sister has committed tax fraud, but just hasn’t gotten caught. Who should I contact about it or should I just hope the system catches her? Will it catch her?
Mar 21
11:33:45
Coffeeroll ->
Comptroller Franchot
Hi! I have a sales and use tax question: I’m based in Maryland and it’s primarily where I sell artwork. But if I wanted to do a show in Philadelphia would I collect sales tax for Maryland, Philly or both?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Coffeeroll
Coffeeroll, No. Good luck. I hope you do well. Peter
Mar 21
11:36:01
Grace
-> Panelist(s)
I have heard a lot in the news lately about all of the cigarettes being smuggled through Maryland and your call to increase penalities. Why do you care about this issue?
Mar 21
11:37:03
Comptroller Franchot
-> Everyone
BTW, Coffeeroll, you may need to register with appropriate tax administration in Pennsylvania and collect appropriate sales tax, You do not have to collect sales tax for Maryland. Peter
Mar 21
11:40:03
GaryS
-> Panelist(s)
my ex-wife is illegally claiming our two kids (4 and 7) on her taxes but they live full-time with me. if i file after she does, will the state see they have been claimed twice and what should i do?
Mar 21
11:41:09
OC ->
Comptroller Franchot
My son had his first summer job as a waiter, but didn’t keep track of his tips. How do I know what his income really was?
Comptroller Franchot
-> OC
OC, Tips are reported as income. Estimate the tips to the best of his ability and make sure the employer did not estimate tips on his W-2. Good luck. Glad he was working at a job. Looking forward to visiting Ocean City this summer. Peter
Mar 21
11:45:06
Grace ->
Comptroller Franchot
I have heard a lot in the news lately about all of the cigarettes being smuggled through Maryland and your call to increase penalities. Why do you care about this issue?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Grace
Grace, Thank you for the question, We are facing an epidemic of cigarette smuggling because the penalties are light and profits huge. The state of Maryland is losing tax revenue, small businesses are unable to compete fairly, and underage Marylanders are getting access to cigarettes. I hope the legislation passes this year to increase the fines and jail sentences for cigarette smuggling. Peter
Mar 21
11:46:44
E ->
Panelist(s)
Can businesses decide on their own to charge an Obamacare tax?
Mar 21
11:46:56
Jim_H ->
Comptroller Franchot
When and where can I get forms and info to pay 2013 estimated tax?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Jim_H
Jim H. The estimated tax forms are available on our website www.marylandtaxes.com. Thanks for the question. Peter
Mar 21
11:48:56
Glenn ->
Comptroller Franchot
Has my estimated taxes for 2013 been established?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Glenn
Glenn, Call 1 800 MDTaxes tollfree to find out the status of your individual account. Peter
Mar 21
11:50:39
Prissy
-> Panelist(s)
Good afternoon Comptroller Franchot. I’m a Navy sailor stationed in Maryland, and I live on the eastern shore. My home was damaged from Sandy, are there any deductions that I’d qualify for as a Marylander in the military.
Mar 21
11:52:40
Natitude ->
Comptroller Franchot
I have an odd question. I know for a fact that my sister has committed tax fraud, but just hasn’t gotten caught. Who should I contact about it or should I just hope the system catches her? Will it catch her?
Comptroller Franchot
-> Natitude
Natitude, Those must be interesting Thanksgiving dinners. Seriously, the hotline number is 410 767-1325. Good luck. Peter
Mar 21
11:53:45
VK ->
Panelist(s)
Hi this Veronica again. If the person who worked in Maryland for part of the year and then had MD withholding stopped because they moved and began performing services in Florida, should the wages still be reportable to Maryland even though the withholding has stopped since Florida does not have a state tax?
Mar 21
11:55:05
Connor
-> Panelist(s)
As a Towson alum, I’m appalled that the administration got rid of baseball and soccer in such a disrespectful way. Thank you for bringing this issue to the public’s attention and calling for the president to come to Annapolis. Do you think there is hope that the sports might come back to TU?
Mar 21
11:56:03
Prissy ->
Comptroller Franchot
Good afternoon Comptroller Franchot. I’m a Navy sailor stationed in Maryland, and I live on the eastern shore. My home was damaged from Sandy, are there any deductions that I’d qualify for as a Marylander in the military.
Comptroller Franchot
-> Prissy
Prissy, As a fellow veteran, thank you for your service. Sorry about your home….. any casualty losses permitted on the federal return will flow through to your Maryland return. Peter
Mar 21
11:56:06
towson_baseball_mom
-> Panelist(s)
I really don’t have a question but i wanted to thank you for your support of our Student athletes. I am doing my sons for the first time. Thank You.
Mar 21
12:05:04
Comptroller Franchot
-> Everyone
We are concluding now but will answer all remaining questions on taxes. We received several questions and comments about Towson soccer and baseall teams. I remain angry and troubled by the decision to discontinue these programs and the manner in which it was handled. It is a disservice to these talented student athletes and their families and harms a great school, Towson. On April 3 at 10 AM in Annapolis there will be a meeting of the Board of Public Works. The Governor and I asked that the President of Towson attend and answer all questions. The meeting is open to the public. Feel free to attend and speak up
Mar 21
12:19:17
Tax Chat Moderator
-> Everyone
Thanks again for joining us this afternoon. On behalf of the Comptroller, we appreciate you being one of the vast majority of Marylanders who do the right thing and pay your taxes on time. As always, we’re here to serve you so please don’t hesitate to visit our website at www.marylandtaxes.com or email mdtaxhelp@comp.state.md.us.

Comptroller Agents Seize More Than $500,000 in Contraband Cigarettes in Month of January

- 22 Cigarette Smugglers Arrested; 150% Increase in Seizures Over January 2012 - 

Annapolis, MD (January 31, 2013)Comptroller Peter Franchot announced today that agents from his Field Enforcement Division arrested 22 suspects and confiscated more than 82,000 packs of contraband cigarettes in the month of January, representing a 69 percent increase in the amount of arrests and a 150 percent increase in seized contraband for the same time last year. The most recent arrests were made today, in Worcester County with agents seizing 6,500 packs of illegal cigarettes valued at $42,000.

“My agents work tirelessly with the Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board and Virginia’s Attorney General to aggressively crack down on cigarette smuggling and other illegal tax evasion tactics. But as the growing incidents of smuggling show, harsher penalties are needed to prevent this activity. My field enforcement division will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to keep contraband cigarettes out of Maryland,” said Comptroller Franchot.

The arrests were made in Baltimore, Cecil, Howard, Prince George’s, Somerset, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester Counties and Baltimore City. All of the suspects have been charged with Transporting Contraband Cigarettes and Possession of Contraband Cigarettes in the State of Maryland. The transporting charge is a felony, which carries a $50 per carton fine and/or two-year imprisonment sentence. The possession offense is a misdemeanor, carrying a $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment, not exceeding one year. The numbers of cigarette violations have risen steadily for the past few years with Fiscal year 2011 netting 115 violations and cigarettes confiscated valued at $1.1 million. In Fiscal year 2012, agents arrested 220 people and seized more than $2.3 million in contraband.

“I am pushing hard again this year for passage of Senate Bill 69, which would implement harsher penalties and allow for stricter enforcement for these crimes throughout Maryland. Cigarette smuggling has become more and more lucrative. In fact it’s become more profitable than smuggling drugs or guns,” continued Comptroller Franchot, “We are arresting many repeat offenders because the current penalties are no more than a slap on the wrist. Stronger repercussions need to be implemented so smugglers know that these crimes won’t be tolerated in Maryland.”

The legislation, heard yesterday in the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, calls for a $150 fine for a first offense and up to a $300 fine for a subsequent offense. Additionally, the smuggler may be subject to imprisonment for up to two years. For more information on the bill, visit http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=SB0069&tab=subject3&ys=2013RS.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kim Frum, 410-260-7210 (office), 443-949-1583 (cell)

Comptroller Warns Taxpayers of New Estate Tax Scheme

- Fraudulent Notices Aimed at Collecting Money from Estate Representatives -

Annapolis, MD (January 30, 2013)Comptroller Peter Franchot warned Marylanders today of an emerging scam involving fraudulent notices to estate tax filers from a company alleging to be a collections firm working for the agency.

The letters, from a business claiming to be based in Annapolis named IRFS, are being sent to personal representatives of estates. The notices indicate that the estate filed delinquently and owes unpaid tax and interest. The correspondence also provides payment coupons for the alleged liability. The Comptroller’s Office was notified about the scheme by an attorney representing an estate.

“This scam is an example of unscrupulous individuals preying on people when they are most vulnerable, after the death of a loved one,” said Comptroller Franchot. “The Comptroller’s Office does not use outside collections agencies for settling estate tax liabilities.”

The fraudulent notices also advise the representative to obtain a loan or other financing to pay off the outstanding balance or a lien will be placed on the taxpayer’s bank account as well as garnishment of wages. A phone number linked to a voicemail box is listed on the letter for taxpayers to contact.

“I urge any taxpayer who receives a notice like this one or any correspondence that you are unsure of to contact my taxpayer service office immediately at 1-800-MD-TAXES or by email at taxhelp@comp.state.md.us.”

The Comptroller has created a consumer protection guide designed to educate taxpayers
on how to select a tax preparer, their rights and what they can expect when filing a return. Visit Basic Rights for All Taxpayers for a copy of this guide.

MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Feldmann, 410-260-6346 (office), 443-336-0215 (cell)

Comptroller Celebrates “National EITC Day”

- Tax Credit Returns Millions of Dollars to Hardworking Families Each Year -

Annapolis, MD (January 25, 2013)As the tax season begins, Comptroller Peter Franchot today celebrated the 7th Annual National Earned Income Tax Credit Day by reiterating his goal of raising awareness of what he calls “the most effective anti-poverty tool” available to taxpayers. He marked the occasion earlier today by speaking at the Prince George’s CASH Campaign Kickoff.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the most effective tax credit available to help lift people out of poverty,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Behind the numbers, these are parents and children receiving a better life in Maryland because of the Earned Income Tax Credit. But working families must apply for the credit in order to receive the benefit. I am grateful to work with partners such as the Maryland CASH Campaign, new emerging financial literacy coalitions and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers throughout the state to provide free tax preparation services for those in need and to promote the EITC to those who qualify.”

“Many taxpayers eligible to receive EITC don’t receive them,” commented Robin McKinney, Director of the Maryland CASH Campaign. “The Maryland CASH Campaign and our partners help eligible taxpayers find all the refunds they deserve. Not getting what you are due is not acceptable. Our goal is boost the financial well-being of hard-working Marylanders by preparing and filing their tax returns for free while providing ways to increase wealth such as purchasing US Savings Bonds with part of the refund.”

The EITC is a significant tool for combating poverty and helping working families in Maryland move toward financial self-sufficiency. Nationally, EITC returns billions of dollars to millions of working families, helping to lift them out of poverty.

This credit distributes more money than either Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and, in combination with the Child Tax Credit, is almost as much as both these programs combined. The EITC supports community and workforce development initiatives.

Comptroller Franchot, alongside other financial literacy advocates, is currently working to ensure that all eligible Marylanders know about the EITC and know how to claim it. The agency provided all employers in the state with the maximum income eligibility for the state earned income tax credit and employers are required to alert an employee who may be eligible for the federal and Maryland EITC. Employees may be entitled to claim an EITC on their 2012 federal and Maryland income tax returns if both their federal adjusted gross income and their earned income is less than the following:

• $45,060 ($50,270 for married filing jointly) if they have three or more qualifying children,
• $41,952 ($47,162 for married filing jointly) if they have two qualifying children,
• $36,920 ($42,130 for married filing jointly) if they have one qualifying child, or
• •$13,980 ($19,190 for married filing jointly) if they do not have a qualifying child.

The Comptroller’s Office offers free tax preparation assistance for Maryland returns at each of its 12 branches offices throughout the state. Locations of offices can be found online at www.marylandtaxes.com. Taxpayers who have questions about their taxes can also contact a representative at 410-260-7980 or 1-800-MD-TAXES.

“I am firmly committed to helping every qualifying Marylander take advantage of the EITC,” said Comptroller Franchot. “I want to thank the organizations and volunteers throughout Maryland who work hard to help qualifying Marylanders receive this tax credit they desperately need.”

Comptroller Franchot also urged all Marylanders to file electronically this year to help the state save money on processing returns and, most importantly, to ensure that Marylanders get their refunds quickly. Taxpayers filing electronically can expect to get their refunds within a few days while those submitting paper returns should plan to wait several weeks for their refund checks.

“This year, I am urging every taxpayer who is able to file electronically. Not only is it more secure for taxpayers and save the state money, but taxpayers who file electronically can expect their refunds within a few days,” said Comptroller Franchot.

MEDIA CONTACT: Caron Brace, (410) 260-7438(office), (410) 212-9414 (cell)