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Bill Would Withhold Tax Refunds for Wanted Maryland Residents

A pilot program in Anne Arundel County to withhold the tax refunds of people with outstanding warrants should be a statewide law, said Comptroller Peter Franchot and some sheriffs.

A pilot program in Anne Arundel County to withhold the tax refunds of people with outstanding warrants should be a statewide law, said Comptroller Peter Franchot and some sheriffs. File|Patch
A pilot program in Anne Arundel County to withhold the tax refunds of people with outstanding warrants should be a statewide law, said Comptroller Peter Franchot and some sheriffs. File|Patch

A pilot program that allows authorities to withhold tax refunds to Maryland residents who have outstanding warrants should be expanded statewide, Comptroller Peter Franchot said Tuesday.

He urged the Maryland House of Delegates to pass legislation sponsored by Delegate Anne Kaiser and aimed at expanding the warrant intercept program piloted in Anne Arundel County. The program would allow the Comptroller’s Office to withhold tax refunds to Maryland residents who have outstanding warrants.

“This initiative complements my guiding principle of rewarding those taxpayers who abide by the law and aggressively pursuing those who do not. Law enforcement officers and the public they are sworn to protect will benefit -- as their counterparts in Anne Arundel County currently do -- from this additional public safety tool. This legislation embodies our shared commitment to using all available resources to enforce the law and protect Marylanders” Franchot said. 

The proposed program mirrors the Anne Arundel County Warrant Intercept Program, which passed into law two years ago and became permanent in 2013, a news release said. As of Feb. 24, nearly $470,000 in refunds has been withheld from more than 600 people with outstanding warrants. Anne Arundel County officials have cleared 480 warrants as a result of the program.

“This law screams efficiency and safety for all involved,” said Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ronald Bateman. “It is by far the most fiscally responsible way to reduce the number of outstanding warrants. I’m glad the entire state is embracing this concept.”

The initiative has the support of the Maryland Sheriff’s Association.

“Maryland sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies need innovative techniques to reduce the pending criminal arrest warrant backlog while maintaining fiscal accountability. The Maryland Sheriff’s Association believes that this legislation will assist in achieving our goal of reducing outstanding warrants in an efficient and effective manner,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Darren M. Popkin, president of the association.

Jason Hihn February 25, 2014 at 03:44 PM
The problem is that it is not the state's property.
Bryan Harz February 25, 2014 at 03:59 PM
One more way for the state to hang on to our money. I guess anyone with a warrant could immediately change their tax filing status. I'm sure they will still take your money on April 15th.
jag February 25, 2014 at 04:02 PM
Jason, that's why the state simply is "withholding" the money. It's not seizing it. This is akin to impounding a car that a criminal happened to be in at the time of their arrest. They get their tax refund back once they get their warrants taken care of. What an excellent idea. Anyone know if/how many other states do this already?
Matthew Riesner February 25, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Well if you are a criminal anyway, what is a little tax evasion. If you do not have taxes withheld (which can be done) and not file a return, the state gets to hold onto nothing.
Matthew Riesner February 25, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Well if you are a criminal anyway, what is a little tax evasion. If a wanted person does not have taxes withheld (which can be done) and does not file a return, the state gets to hold onto nothing.
dwb February 25, 2014 at 04:15 PM
Gives new meaning to "Go directly to jail, Do not pass go, do not collect $200" Don't give money to people with outstanding warrants? Is that even a question?
Bryan Harz February 25, 2014 at 04:22 PM
"nearly $470,000 in refunds has been withheld from more than 600 people with outstanding warrants. Anne Arundel County officials have cleared 480 warrants as a result of the program" Those are some pretty impressive results, actually.
Buzz Beeler February 25, 2014 at 07:29 PM
The bill takes the saying that - crime pays - out of the equation.
Connie Sharpe February 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Curiously, how much of the warrant collections come from Earned Income Credit payments that don't belong to the taxpayers anyway, but belong to the state in the first place? And, what impact will this little-known penalty have on employees voluntarily claiming fewer exemptions in the hopes of receiving a higher refund? Or, might the bill present one more way of financial management toward payback of criminal activities such as drug trafficking? Just what are the crimes these 600 taxpayers are charged with? Obviously not tax evasion nor avoidance.
Nick March 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM
How about withholding tax refunds for illegals that file using false information?
Buzz Beeler March 18, 2014 at 05:41 PM
Nick this is a sanctuary state. Not are we dealing with the issue you brought up but the SS increases across the board. Even Kamenetz admitted that part of the budget has drastically increased.

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