Maryland State Fairgoers Find More Than $385,000 in Unclaimed Property

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (September 5, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that 331 people discovered more than $385,000 in unclaimed funds at his agency’s booth at this year’s Maryland State Fair. One attendee learned about an unexpected windfall of $28,919.

Throughout the summer, Comptroller Franchot’s staff have had a presence at county fairs and the State Fair as part of an initiative to help reunite Marylanders with money they are owed. Once again, more people found unclaimed property at a higher total dollar amount than at last year’s fair, possibly due to higher attendance. More than 1,350 people made inquiries at the unclaimed property booth at this year’s the fair.

“Every day, my staff diligently works to find the owners of unclaimed property and to make sure they get what belongs to them,” Comptroller Franchot said. “County fairs and festivals around the state  – especially the Maryland State Fair –  give agency staffers an extra opportunity to meet residents and help them find unclaimed funds and items that are rightfully theirs.”

Financial institutions, utilities, insurance companies and other corporations are required to report to the Comptroller any bank accounts, security deposits, wages, insurance benefits and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been unclaimed after three years. In addition to his booths at fairs and festivals, the Comptroller’s Office searches for owners of unclaimed funds by searching tax records to try and locate property owners.

Franchot urges anyone who finds their name on the list to contact his office at 410-767-1700 (Central Maryland) or toll-free at 1-800-782-7383 to find out how to reclaim their lost property. Marylanders can also see if their name is on the list through marylandtaxes.gov.

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 Seeking Nominations for William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (September 4, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot announced today that his office is once again accepting nominations for the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award. The deadline for submitting nominations is Monday, October 1. Comptroller Franchot will present the award to each recipient, beginning later this year.

Established in 2012, the award honors the unparalleled legacy of public service left by former Mayor, Governor and Comptroller Schaefer and is presented in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City to individuals and organizations with an unwavering commitment to helping people.

“Every day, Marylanders across the state sacrifice their own time to aid at-risk populations or to better their communities,” said Comptroller Franchot. “They don’t seek recognition, but it is the least we can do to honor their selfless contributions. For me, handing out these awards and hearing about their achievements is one of the highlights of my year.”

Award recipients will be selected on their demonstration of:

  • Improving the community;
  • Promptly responding to a citizen problem through effective government intervention;
  • Directly aiding our most vulnerable populations; or,
  • Establishing a public/private partnership to improve the lives of fellow Marylanders.

Nominations submitted in previous years but not selected should be resent. To submit your nomination, print out and complete this form and either fax it to 410-974-2045 or attach it as a pdf file and email it to abrody@comp.state.md.us. For more information or for questions about the award, call 410-260-7300.

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)

Franchot Announces FY 2018 Closeout Numbers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 30, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today released the final closeout numbers for Fiscal Year 2018, which were heavily influenced by strong Capital Gains tax revenues as well as tax policy uncertainty and shifts in consumer finances. Revenues came in 2 percent, or $339 million, ahead of estimates to help the State of Maryland finish the fiscal year with an unassigned General Fund balance of $504 million.

“The good news is we’ve managed to outperform our modest estimates, but that doesn’t mean the state’s economy is out of the woods yet,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Consumers are still cautious about spending their discretionary dollars, and continued political volatility in Washington is likely to persist. I urge our state’s leaders to regard this year-end boost like an unexpected bonus to be saved for future use, not to be spent immediately.”

General fund revenues totaled $17.372 billion in the fiscal year, 2 percent or $339 million above estimates. Read the full Fiscal Year 2018 Closeout Report 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)

MD Retailers Association and Comptroller Franchot Announce Winners of Scholarship Contest

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 28, 2018) – The Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) and Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced the winners of the social media scholarship contest that coincided with Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

Grant Handley of Elkton was selected for the $2,500 first-place scholarship for his contest entry on Twitter. Handley is attending Cecil College in the fall with plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the spring, where he will major in Public Policy with a pre-law concentration.

Melanie Countee, of Prince George’s County, was chosen for the $1,000 second-place award for her entry on Twitter. A graduate of Texas Southern University with a degree in Psychology, Countee is a Mental Health Counseling graduate student at Bowie State University.

“We’re thrilled to once again help promote shopping local and Tax-Free Week by providing scholarships to two students with promising futures.” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, MRA president. “Congratulations to Grant and Melanie, and thank you to everyone who participated.”

“Presenting these scholarships is one of the highlights of my year and I thank the Maryland Retailers Association for providing these funds,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week has proven over the years to be a popular end-of-summer tradition that boosts sales for brick-and-mortar retailers and saves shoppers money on back-to-school purchases and other items.”

The MRA and Comptroller Franchot will present the scholarship checks to the winners at public events in the coming weeks.

Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week took place August 12 to 18. Shoppers were encouraged to follow the official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and post a picture or video that incorporated the theme of “Maryland” and using #shopmdtaxfree to submit an entry on any or all of the social media platforms.

For more information on Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, visit marylandtaxes.gov.

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 FED Agents Arrest NY Man in Eastern Shore Cigarette Stop

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 27, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot has announced that agents from his Field Enforcement Division (FED) have arrested a New York man who has been charged in Maryland as a result of a surveillance operation on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“My FED agents’ vigilance protects Maryland businesses and taxpayers from those who try to cheat the system with their illegal activities in transporting tobacco products through our state,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “I am very proud of their dedicated service and steadfast ability to identify these criminals.”

During the surveillance operation on Thursday, August 23, Nasser Manssour, 55, of Brooklyn, NY, driving a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV with New Jersey tags, was observed concealing cigarettes in the rear of the vehicle at a discount cigarette retail store on the Lower Shore area of Virginia. Agents said he then drove north on U.S. Route 13 into Maryland and was stopped at U.S. Route 13 and Sheep House Road in Pocomoke in Worcester County.

Agents searched the vehicle and found 2,820 packs of contraband cigarettes with a value of $18,189 and representing a tax loss to the State of $5,640. The contraband cigarettes and vehicle were seized and Manssour was placed under arrest.

Manssour 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.

A preliminary hearing has been set for September 14 at Worcester County District Court. Manssour was released on his own recognizance.

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 Arrest Virginia Driver in I-95 Cigarette Stop

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 16, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that officers from his Field Enforcement Division assisted Maryland State Police from the JFK Barrack in a traffic stop on I-95 north in Baltimore County Tuesday night that netted 1,650 packs of contraband cigarettes valued at more than $10,000.

“Day or night, my agents remain vigilant in identifying criminals who try to cheat Maryland citizens and who use Maryland highways in the pursuit of their illegal acts,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Their dedication and hard work along with the Maryland State Police protects our businesses and our citizens.”

Agents said Ebrahim Mukai Mohamed Altairi, 20, of Richmond, VA., driving a rented 2019 Chevrolet Colorado SUV with Virginia tags, was stopped for a traffic violation at mile marker 70 in White Marsh. During the stop, Altairi was found to be transporting contraband cigarettes.

FED agents were contacted and responded to the scene to search the vehicle. They 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 SUV were seized and Altair was arrested.

Altairi was charged with a felony count of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of contraband cigarettes. He was released from the Baltimore County Detention Center on $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for September 14 at Baltimore County District Court.

For fiscal year 2019, which started July 1, 2018, FED agents have arrested and charged eight individuals for various tobacco violations in eight investigations. These arrests have resulted in the seizure of 1,650 packs of contraband cigarettes and the seizure of 35,938 sticks of Untaxed Other Tobacco Products (OTP). The seized items are valued at $46,580.50 and represent a tax loss to the State of $28,456.50.

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 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 and MD Retailers Association Announce Tax-Free Week Scholarship Contest

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (July 30, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot joined with the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) today to announce a social media contest coinciding with Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week in which two winners will receive $2,500 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively, to any Maryland university, college or trade school.

Leading up to and during the annual Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, which takes place August 12 to 18, shoppers should like or follow the official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Then snap a picture or take a video that incorporates the theme of “Maryland” (the state colors, school apparel, sports team, a crab, etc.), write a creative caption and use #shopmdtaxfree during Tax-Free Week to submit an entry on any or all of the social media platforms.

MRA, which is providing the scholarships, will select the two entries at the week’s conclusion that best reflect the spirit of Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week.

“The State of Maryland loses money during Tax-Free Week, but it’s a big win for locally-owned businesses and for shoppers,” said Comptroller Franchot. “This will be the easiest scholarship Maryland college students will ever have the chance to win. There’s no application, no essay and no interview – just shop tax-free!”

“Tax-Free Week provides a much-needed boost to brick-and-mortar retailers in our state, and we encourage all consumers to support their local businesses,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, MRA president. “This year we are again thrilled to help promote shopping local and Tax-Free Week by offering scholarships to our contest winners.”

During Tax-Free Week, 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.

In the weeks leading up to and during Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, Comptroller Franchot will visit local businesses across the state to encourage shoppers to take advantage of these savings and to participate in the contest.

To get the latest details about Tax-Free Week and to enter the contest, like or follow the social media pages on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Resulting from legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2007, the tax-free week is held annually during the second week in August.  Businesses selling items that are not eligible for inclusion in the tax-free week can still participate in Shop Maryland. Under “Sellers Privilege,” other unqualified merchandise can be sold tax-free, but the retailer is responsible for paying the sales tax owed to the state.

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)