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.