Protecting Taxpayers: Comptroller Franchot Blocks Returns From Two Dozen Suspicious Tax Preparers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 11, 2019) – As part of his continued efforts to combat tax fraud and identity theft, Comptroller Peter Franchot announces today that the agency has stopped processing electronic tax returns from 24 tax preparers at locations in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. The immediate suspensions were due to a high volume of questionable returns received. During the 2018 tax filing season, 74 tax preparers at 78 locations were flagged. Since Calendar Year 2016, 215 tax preparation firms at 228 locations have been suspended due to highly-suspicious tax returns. The complete list of previously blocked preparers is available online at www.marylandtaxes.gov .

“Our Questionable Returns Detection Team vigilantly monitors tax filings and is constantly keeping a watchful eye for unscrupulous preparers who submit false returns, causing financial harm to individual filers and their families and to the State of Maryland’s coffers. Blocking these swindlers and protecting hardworking Maryland taxpayers is the agency’s top priority each tax season,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot.

The Comptroller’s nationally recognized fraud unit uses state-of-the-art technology that detects suspicious returns. The unit then issues notifications to the identified fraudulent preparers. The agency refers the list of tax preparers to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which will prioritize the cases to be prosecuted  after thorough investigations by agents with the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division. A review process provides an opportunity for blocked preparers to have their filing privileges restored.

The tax preparers and locations blocked from filing returns through this action are:

  • CB2 Consulting LLC, 10410 Kensington Pkwy., Ste. 309, Kensington, MD 20895
  • Innovative Business Accounting & Taxation Services LLC, 7029 Oak Grove Way, Elkridge, MD 21075
  • Square & Eagle Group, 2100 McMahon Road, Unit 2122, Silver Spring, MD 20902
  • Kang Solutions LLC, 6475 New Hampshire Ave., Ste. 504K, Hyattsville, MD 20783
  • Albert Nsiah, 7104 Hanover Parkway D2, Greenbelt, MD 20770
  • DonNeshia Tax Service, 6508 Asset Drive, Landover, MD 20785
  • Sheila’s Tax Service, 7400 Greeley Road, Landover, MD 20785
  • SW Accounting Associates, 1726 D Street, NE, 1st Floor, Washington DC 20002
  • CPG & Associates LLC, 5206 Grunion Place, Waldorf MD 20603
  • Kate E. Whaley, 4110 Lakeview Drive, Temple Hills, MD 20748
  • Sum Up Tax Services, 6325 Brightlea Drive, Lanham, MD 20706
  • Richman Financial Services, 8404 Eureka Court, Alexandria, VA 22309
  • Aldrin F. Ngwa, 13810 Castle Blvd., Apt. 102, Silver Spring, MD 20904
  • Henry’s Tax LLC, P.O. BOX 4916, Alexandria, VA 22303
  • Keep It Simple Tax Services, 4309 Rockport Lane, Bowie, MD 20720
  • Foundation Enterprises LLC, 5729 Janice Lane, Temple Hills, MD 20748
  • Agadbak Tax and Financial Services, 20137 Welbeck Terrace, Montgomery Village, MD 20886
  • Dionne Makins, 7301 Flag Harbor Drive, District Heights, MD 20747
  • Valerie Robinson Tax Service, 12438 Old Colony Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
  • Whites Tax Service, 102 Billy Ave., Archdale, NC 27263
  • Excellent Tax Professional, 18216 Merino Drive, Accokeek, MD 20607
  • Keen Taxes And Associates LLC, 2410 Tredway Drive, Macon, GA 31211
  • Taxjam LLC, 13205 3rd Street, Bowie, MD 20720
  • M&S Tax Service, P.O. BOX 322, Temple Hills, MD 20757

Since taking office in 2007, the Comptroller’s office has identified and blocked more than 100,000 fraudulent returns and intercepted and denied $206 million worth of fraudulent refunds.

If taxpayers suspect fraud, they should immediately report the issue to the Comptroller’s Office by calling 1-800-MD-TAXES (1-800-638-2937) or 410-260-7980 in Central Maryland or taxhelp@comp.state.md.us.

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

Board of Revenue Estimates Approves $268.5 Million Writedown for Fiscal Years 2019, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 7, 2019) – The Board of Revenue Estimates voted today to decrease the revenue projection for the State of Maryland for Fiscal Year 2019 by $138 million and to decrease the projection for Fiscal Year 2020 by $130.5 million.

The writedowns are largely the result of taxpayer uncertainty and changed spending habits in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017, that significantly revised the federal and state tax codes

Below are Comptroller Franchot’s remarks from the BRE meeting, as prepared for delivery:

“As always, on behalf of my colleagues, Treasurer Kopp and Secretary Brinkley, I would like to start by thanking Andy Schaufele for his outstanding work in preparing this exceptional report, and I would also like to thank the entire BRE staff, along with the Revenue Monitoring Committee, for their thorough and tireless work in drawing up these estimates.

It is certainly not easy work, but your professionalism and expertise allow us to make responsible, tough decisions that strengthen our economy, ensure our long-term growth, and safeguard the people of Maryland, so I thank you for the incredible work that you do each and every day.

As Mr. Schaufele noted in his report, this Board is being asked to approve recommendations that would decrease our December 2018 revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2019 by 0.8%, or $138 million.

Additionally, we will be revising the December estimates for Fiscal Year 2020 to $18.5 billion, representing a 0.7%, or $130.5 million, decrease from our previous projections.

In total, the proposal before the Board is to decrease our December estimates by 0.7%, representing a total of $268.5 million.

As Andy intimated, these estimates – as we have underscored time and time again in past months – are marked by taxpayers’ continued uncertainty in the face of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

For many working families and small businesses, the highly-confusing provisions instituted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continue to impact their spending behavior.

Many Marylanders faced unprecedented uncertainty entering this tax season because of the comprehensive changes to federal tax law, which, among many factors, changed how they could claim deductions and capped state and local taxes for the first time.

The federal tax reforms resulted in 1 in 3 Marylanders seeing their state tax liabilities go up, and some Marylanders are seeing reduced refunds at the state level and, for many working families, that places a constraint on their finances since so many of them depend on that money every year to pay off important bills and reduce debt.

In addition, the decrease in non-wage income affected by the market crash in December among other factors, only highlights what we have been saying for months.

There is widespread consensus among experts, including our own Bureau of Revenue Estimates, that we can expect an economic downturn in the next several years.

So the State of Maryland must continue to prepare for the inevitable, by putting as much money aside in our Rainy Day Fund to prevent the types of drastic budget cuts, furloughs, and tax increases that we witnessed during the Great Recession.

As I have for the last twelve years, I once again urge my colleagues down the street to exercise caution with respect to spending and fiscal policy decisions.

Those of us entrusted with fiduciary responsibilities in state government must show our constituents that we learned our lesson from the events that transpired over a decade ago, and that we are better prepared to weather whatever comes our way in the future.

As Maryland faces continued uncertainty during this highly volatile economic and political climate, we must prioritize creating a stable, predictable fiscal climate for working families and small businesses.

And as Comptroller and chair of this Board, I look forward to continuing to be an active and vocal participant in those discussions.”

The full BRE data table can be viewed here.

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

Maryland Surpasses One Million Individual Tax Returns Processed

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 7, 2019) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that his office has processed more than one million individual income tax returns for tax year 2018. The one-millionth electronic return was submitted by a Frederick County tax filer.

As of Thursday morning, more than 1.1 million electronic and paper returns have been processed, with almost 95 percent of those being electronically filed. Comptroller Franchot has long encouraged Marylanders to e-file because it’s the most secure and efficient way to submit a tax return. Most Marylanders who file electronically receive their state refunds within three business days.

“The hardworking staff in the Comptroller’s Office processes thousands of state tax returns each and every day,” Comptroller Franchot said. “They’re focused on preventing tax cheats from stealing fraudulent refunds and ensuring honest taxpayers receive their hard-earned money as quickly as possible.”

Through the years of public outreach by the Comptroller’s Office, the number of electronic returns processed has steadily increased. Last year, the Comptroller’s office processed more than 2.7 million returns electronically. Electronic filers represented about 85 percent of the 3.2 million personal income tax returns filed last year.

The filing deadline for 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15.

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 marylandtaxes.gov.

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

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

$50 Million Payback

BRE projects huge cost of bills to remove enforcement duties from Comptroller’s Office; Tobacco settlement money, tax fraud efforts also at risk

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 19, 2019) – The Bureau of Revenue Estimates, in a policy report to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, has put the price tag of a proposal to remove the Field Enforcement Division from the purview of the Comptroller’s Office at nearly $50 million over the next five years, a cost that would be borne directly by taxpayers.

Legislation to move licensing and regulatory functions for alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel from the Comptroller’s Office to a newly created Alcohol, Tobacco and Motor Fuel Commission (ATM) would result in significant operational costs for both the agency and the commission. In addition, Senate Bill 703/House Bill 1052 would lead to increased administrative expenses, inefficiency and lost revenues, according to the BRE analysis.

The report, prepared in advance of bill hearings on Friday, states that the disruption of longstanding tobacco enforcement policies and procedures could jeopardize up to $750 million in tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) funds over five years. The bill’s passage could also undermine efforts to preserve taxpayer security at a time when the Maryland Comptroller’s Office has been nationally recognized for its work to prevent tax fraud and as the agency is transitioning to a new, state-of-the-art tax processing system.

The costly and damaging impacts of the proposed legislation will be further outlined during a media briefing to be held Thursday, February 21 at 11:30 a.m. in the Assembly Room of the Goldstein Treasury Building, located at 80 Calvert Street in Annapolis. Comptroller Peter Franchot will be joined by BRE Revenue Policy Analyst Kevin Ross, Field Enforcement Division Director Jeff Kelly and several of his agents to explain the fiscal analysis and the impact to enforcement operations.

“The impacts of this reckless political power grab are plainly obvious and it has nothing to do with good government,” said Comptroller Franchot. “On the contrary, it would cost Marylanders tens of millions of dollars, weaken our regulatory enforcement laws, jeopardize tobacco settlement funds that the state relies on, endanger taxpayers’ security and potentially impact the job security of dozens of hardworking enforcement agents who protect consumers at the pump, crack down on cigarette smuggling, regulate alcohol and go after tax cheats.”

The report describes how removing FED from the Comptroller’s Office would strip it of access to sensitive tax information, which is fundamental to its enforcement power. Under the bills, FED could no longer review tax audit reports, and its status with federal agencies through Memorandums of Understanding could result in requiring subpoenas for tax information from the Comptroller’s Office, which could cause delays or even hamper criminal investigations and prosecutions.

“Removing FED from COM would result in a significant unseen cost to the State,” asserts the BRE report. “The cost of this loss to the State’s efforts at eliminating tax fraud, identity theft, criminal and terrorist funding, etc., cannot be overstated.”

FED also would lose the administrative, functional and technical overlap it currently has and would require the hiring of eight new positions for information technology, human resources, public health liaison, external communications, attorney general and administration and finance. In the first year alone, the cost of duplicating these eight positions would be nearly $795,000; over five years, the cost is almost $4 million.

Additional costs would be incurred from the need for new computer hardware and software, as well as new office space for the newly created commission that includes secure storage and a loading dock for confiscated alcohol and contraband tobacco products. Government efficacy will also suffer with the separation of the State licensing bureau, wherein the new commission would have authority over alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel licenses, while the Comptroller would retain enforcement authority over merchant licenses and tax compliance.

“My team has earned the respect of both those they regulate and those they serve and protect,” said FED Director Kelly. “Not a single comment has been made during this debate about the quality of our work, the need to change what we’re doing or how moving our division would improve our outcomes. This legislation seems like a solution in search of a problem.”

The potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of tobacco settlement funds is particularly concerning. FED agents work with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure the State remains a beneficiary of the 1998 settlement agreement between Maryland and large tobacco manufacturers. To receive the fund, states must show they are diligently enforcing tobacco compliance. If the State is found to have not diligently enforced in any given year, it will forfeit the money. The Attorney General’s Office uses FED for enforcement. If that is affected, the state risks losing $150 million annually and $750 million over five years.

“It’s okay for Annapolis insiders controlled by big beer distributors to disagree with my advocacy on behalf of Maryland’s craft beer industry, but it’s not okay for them to use innocent hard-working state employees as pawns in their political games and make Maryland taxpayers and consumers foot the bill for this nonsense,” Franchot said.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Susan O’Brien -  sobrien@comp.state.md.us
410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

Comptroller Urges Marylanders to Save During Shop Maryland Energy Weekend February 16-18

Sales tax waived on qualifying ENERGY STAR products 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 7, 2019) -  Comptroller Peter Franchot is urging Marylanders to take advantage of big savings as part of the annual Shop Maryland Energy weekend from Saturday, February 16, through Monday, February 18. On these three days, consumers will not pay the state’s six percent sales tax on qualifying ENERGY STAR appliances.

“Shop Maryland Energy weekend is a great time to take advantage of potentially hundreds of dollars in savings on ENERGY STAR products that are good for the environment,” Comptroller Franchot said. “This program boosts sales during an otherwise down time for businesses and gives consumers an incentive to purchase energy-efficient appliances.”

The Comptroller will visit locally-owned retailers in the following cities and towns to promote Shop Maryland Energy weekend. Details about each visit will be released ahead of the planned stops.

  • Silver Spring: Friday, February 8
  • Rising Sun: Monday, February 11
  • Hagerstown: Tuesday, February 12
  • Cambridge: Thursday, February 13
  • Pikesville: Thursday, February 14

During the Shop Maryland Energy event, air conditioners, washers and dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, standard-size refrigerators, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs, dehumidifiers and programmable thermostats that have been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy will be tax-free. A list of ENERGY STAR items may be found at energystar.gov/products or at marylandtaxes.com.

For more information on Shop Maryland Energy weekend or to download printable rack cards and shareable logos, visit marylandtaxes.comFor additional questions e-mail taxhelp@comp.state.md.us or call 410-260-7980 (central Maryland) or toll-free at 1-800-MD-TAXES.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Susan O’Brien -  sobrien@comp.state.md.us                                                         410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

Comptroller Franchot’s FED Agents Cite Pa. Man for Trying to Sell Untaxed Motor Fuel in Western Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 11, 2019) - Comptroller Peter Franchot announced Monday that agents from the Field Enforcement Division (FED) cited a Pennsylvania man on February 6 who was trying to sell motor fuel from a fuel delivery truck without a license and registration in Maryland.

“Our FED agents are on the job round-the-clock to catch tax cheats who don’t want to play by the rules like hard-working Maryland businesses and families do,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “I commend them for their diligence and for partnering with the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division troopers from the Maryland State Police in stopping trucks carrying untaxed fuel in Maryland.”

Agents cited Eric Coleman Swank, 42 of Markleysburg, (Fayette County) Pa., who was driving a 2005 Peterbilt tank wagon registered to Laurel Fuel Company of Rockwood, (Somerset County) Pa., with operating a motor vehicle on a highway in the State of Maryland with dyed fuel in the propulsion tank; engaging in motor fuel business without a license; transporting motor fuel/special fuel without registration; and unlawfully failing to have a copy of loading ticket. He also was cited by the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED) of the Maryland State Police for no hazmat endorsement; no apportioned registration; no shipping papers for hazmat and displaying expired Pennsylvania registration plate. Laurel Fuel Company is not licensed to sell fuel in Maryland.

Acting on a tip from the Comptroller’s Revenue Administration Division, FED agents began conducting petroleum transporter inspections on fuel delivery vehicles operating in Garrett County near the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line. On Wednesday morning, agents and inspectors stopped Mr. Swank’s truck at U.S. Routes 40 and 219 at Keysers Ridge in Accident.

Agents then conducted an inspection of the truck and discovered untaxed dyed fuel in the propulsion tank of the truck, which is a violation of state law. The driver also admitted to making a delivery of fuel at a nearby location in Maryland. Agents then contacted MSP’s CVED.

Agents and troopers cited Mr. Swank, seized the delivery vehicle and remaining fuel onboard and took it to a secured impound lot in Jessup. Additional delivery documents indicating multiple Maryland fuel deliveries also were recovered and seized as part of the inspection. The value of the untaxed fuel has not been determined. The investigation is continuing.

Photos available upon request.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Susan O’Brien – sobrien@comp.state.md.us
410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

Comptroller’s Office to Assist Maryland Federal Retirees Who Owe Debt

No additional offsets will be imposed by Comptroller’s Collections Section

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 8, 2019) - The Maryland Comptroller’s Office will offer assistance to Maryland federal retirees who owe Maryland taxes and were subject to an offset of their federal pension by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

On Feb. 1, the Treasury Department mailed notices to approximately 7,500 federal retirees in Maryland owing Maryland taxes as part of its Treasury Offset Program. The notice states that the Department of Treasury could withhold up to 25 percent from a retiree’s pension until the debt is resolved.

The Maryland Comptroller’s Office’s Compliance Division will work with federal retirees and the Department of Treasury on a case by case basis, but the Comptroller’s Office will not offset federal retirees’ pensions for state tax obligations.

Federal retirees in Maryland with a state tax obligation are encouraged to make a payment arrangement with the Comptroller Office’s Compliance Division’s Collections Section by calling 410-974-2432.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Susan O’Brien -  sobrien@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

Comptroller Franchot Calls on Speaker Busch to Remove Campaign Treasurer

Neal Katcef is Anne Arundel County’s largest Budweiser distributor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 08, 2019) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today issued this statement in response to the introduction of Senate Bill 687 – Alcoholic Beverages – Prohibition of Donations to Regulators. The bill will be heard on February 22 at 1 p.m., in the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee. Below is a copy of the letter Comptroller Franchot sent to Speaker Busch and all members of the Maryland General Assembly:

“Earlier this week, Sen. Ben Kramer introduced a bill that would specifically prohibit me, or members of the Office of the Maryland Comptroller, from accepting campaign contributions from the alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel industries. I believe this is part of the ongoing campaign to punish me for pulling back the curtain on the big beer cartel that has been running Annapolis for decades.

“I will gladly support the bill if this bill applies equally to all members of the Maryland General Assembly, their slate committees, Political Action Committees (PACs) and all of the other backdoor ways they have to raise money from special interests. If we’re serious about taking big beer money out of the political process, let’s stop playing games and seeking retribution for one person’s support of the family-owned, small business, craft beer industry. Let’s do this right.

“I encourage Speaker of the House, Mike Busch, to lead by example. His campaign treasurer, the person who handles the collection of donations to his election efforts, is Neal Katcef, the biggest Budweiser distributor in Anne Arundel County. First, I would like to say that I have known Neal personally for many years and he has even supported my own campaigns. He is the consummate gentleman and incredibly supportive and generous to the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County community through his charitable activities. He also works professionally and proactively with our Field Enforcement Division. This is not an effort focused on Mr. Katcef as an individual.

“However, how can the Annapolis Machine claim, with straight faces, to be objective on issues affecting Maryland craft beer when a major player in Big Beer literally collects the campaign contributions, writes the checks, and keeps the books for the most powerful man in the House of Delegates?

“It is in that spirit of consistency that I have publicly called for Speaker Busch to remove Mr. Katcef as his official campaign treasurer, effective today, and assign these responsibilities to someone with no ties to Maryland’s alcohol, tobacco or motor fuel industries.

“If we are truly serious about making this effort something more than a political stunt from the Annapolis Machine, then it must be a complete, unconditional break with these special interests.”

February 8, 2019
The Honorable Michael E. Busch

Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates

H-101 State House

Annapolis, MD 21401 – 1991

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As you know, Senator Ben Kramer introduced legislation earlier this week that would specifically prohibit me and employees of my agency from accepting campaign contributions from the alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel industries.

I will gladly support this legislative proposal if it applies equally to all members of the Maryland General Assembly, their slate committees, political action committees and all of the other backdoor ways there are to raise money from special interests. If we are serious about taking big beer money out of the political process, let’s stop playing games and let’s do it right.

In that spirit, I am calling on you to relieve Mr. Neal Katcef, the largest Budweiser beer distributor in Anne Arundel County, of his duties as your campaign treasurer effective today. I consider Mr. Katcef a consummate gentleman. While this issue is not directed at him as an individual, I believe this is a good and sincere first step to removing the influence of big beer in Annapolis.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Peter Franchot

Comptroller

CC: Members of the Maryland General Assembly

MEDIA CONTACTS: Susan O’Brien – sobrien@comp.state.md.us
410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

Comptroller Franchot Responds to Senate Bill 703 Introduction

Media Availability with the Comptroller at 2:30 pm Today at State House Press Row

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 5, 2019) - In an unprecedented and unsubstantiated political maneuver, Senator Ben Kramer (D-19 Montgomery Co.) has filed legislation, Senate Bill 703, that would strip the Comptroller of Maryland of existing authority to regulate the alcohol, motor fuel and tobacco industries. For more than 168 years, since 1851, the office of the Maryland Comptroller has overseen tax collection and managed fiscal affairs for the State of Maryland. Below is a statement from Comptroller Peter Franchot about the introduction of Senate Bill 703:

“Despite his obvious financial conflicts of interest, Senator Kramer has introduced this bill because of my efforts to reform Maryland’s archaic craft beer laws and level the playing field for small businesses throughout the state. Senator Kramer, who personally financially gains from a controlled monopoly on liquor distribution in Montgomery County, apparently has found inspiration in his national elected neighbors in Washington, DC to take hostage public employees to score political points.

“His actions demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the vital role that my office, through our award-winning Field Enforcement Division, plays in the fight to protect consumers at the gas pump, to recoup loss tax revenue from illegal alcohol operations, to prevent unlawful cigarette and tobacco smuggling, and even to protect taxpayers from tax fraud and identity theft. The bill has supposedly been filed at the request of a recent task force, however, these topics weren’t discussed, nor were they even part of the mission of that task force. Additionally, no financial feasibility examination was undertaken to determine the cost of moving the Field Enforcement Division to another authority and the resulting process needed to collect loss tax revenue; nor has consideration been given to how this move would impact these dedicated agents and their enforcement efforts.

“Senator Kramer is a compromised representative as he continues to receive payments eclipsing $20,000 per month from the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control for a space it leases in a building owned by Senator Kramer and his family. It’s astounding to me that he would proceed with efforts to reorganize alcohol regulation in the State of Maryland despite his obvious conflicts of interest. His unwillingness to recuse himself from the task force and to compound that by introducing alcohol regulatory legislation should be of great concern to the Maryland General Assembly and the voters of Maryland resulting in the withdrawal of SB703.

“In 2007, I took my Oath of Office for the first time as the 33rd Comptroller of Maryland. Since that time our Field Enforcement Division has been responsible for the seizure of more than:

  • 2 million packs of contraband cigarettes
  • 1.4 million packages of other tobacco products
  • 3,400 gallons of illegal distilled spirits
  • 2,000 gallons of illegal wine
  • 85,000 containers of contraband beer

“This, in addition to more than $9 million in sales and use tax collected from businesses that was previously uncollected. This is an extraordinary record of success demonstrating best practices by our nationally recognized Field Enforcement team.

“Rest assured that my office will continue to execute our duties in the fairest and most effective, responsive manner possible just as we have always done. This will also not deter my continued advocacy for better beer laws for consumers and small businesses. Finally, I guarantee each of you that this is merely the beginning of a much deeper conversation about the highly irregular, unseemly relationship between the corporate beer lobby and the leadership of the Maryland General Assembly.”

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Susan O’Brien -  sobrien@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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

PA Man Arrested in Worcester County for Transporting Contraband Cigarettes

Field Enforcement Division agents seize 3,800 packs and vehicle

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 31, 2019) - During a surveillance operation January 24, agents from the Comptroller of Maryland’s Field Enforcement Division (FED) arrested a Pennsylvania man and confiscated thousands of packs of contraband cigarettes.

“Our FED agents are always on the lookout for cheats and crooks who take the chance of driving through Maryland with their illegal tobacco products,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “We are proud of their dedicated work in identifying these scofflaws and bringing them to justice.”

At 10:30 a.m. January 24, FED agents saw a man buy multiple cartons of cigarettes from a discount cigarette retail store along U.S. Route 13 in Oak Hall, Va. The man put them in the rear of a 2006 Toyota Scion with a Pennsylvania license plate and then drove north on Route 13 from Virginia into Maryland. Agents stopped the vehicle at Route 13 and Sheep House Road in Pocomoke, Worcester County and conducted a search of the car.

FED agents seized 3,840 packs of contraband cigarettes and the car used in transportation. The seized cigarettes are valued at $24,768 and represent a tax loss to the state of $7,680.

The driver, Jose Amado Rivera, 71, of Philadelphia, was arrested and charged with a felony count of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor count of possession of contraband cigarettes. Mr. Rivera was taken before a district court commissioner in Snow Hill, Worcester County, and released on personal recognizance. A court date has not been set.

Photo available upon request.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Susan O’Brien -  sobrien@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-875-8540 (mobile)

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