- Increase in Alcohol Violations, Contraband Seized-
Annapolis, Md. (June 29, 2011) – Known for his commitment to vigilantly enforcing Maryland tax laws, Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced the final figures for alcohol, cigarette and motor fuel violations for fiscal year 2011. Making the announcement surrounded by contraband products, Franchot praised the work of his agents and local law enforcement officials in working together to protect law-abiding businesses from underground operations and tax cheats.
“I am very proud of the work our field enforcement agents and inspectors have done and the results from this past fiscal year are a testament to their efforts," said Comptroller Franchot. "The blatant disregard of Maryland tax laws, which protect law-abiding businesses and consumers, will not be ignored. Therefore, my agents will continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement to enforce Maryland's alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel laws to send a message loud and clear that this type of activity will not be tolerated.”
For the fiscal year 2011, which ends tomorrow, Comptroller agents issued 110 cigarette violations, resulting in the confiscation of 181,127 packs of cigarettes valued at $1 million. Both numbers represent a significant increase from fiscal year 2010, which ended with 72,105 seized packs. Along with increases in seized tobacco products, FY 2011 saw an increase in the amount of confiscated alcohol. This past year agents confiscated 320 gallons of distilled liquor, 18 gallons of wine and more than 3,615 containers of beer as a result of 61 violations. The total retail value of the seized alcohol was $49,794 compared to only $20,944 last year.
Field inspectors issued 238 motor fuel violations, a significant increase from the previous fiscal year’s 15 violations. In addition, nearly $1.8 million in delinquent sales and use tax was collected by the office, all of which goes to the state’s general fund.
Contraband alcohol and tobacco products are retained by the Comptroller’s Office as evidence against a defendant until a pending case is adjudicated. If the defendant is found innocent of charges, then the products are returned to the owner. However, if the defendant is found guilty, the Comptroller’s Office is required by state law to sell the product, with the exception of beer due to shorter shelf life. In order to bid on the product, one must have a Maryland retailer or wholesaler license for either alcohol or tobacco. All money collected from sales then goes back into the general fund.
In recent years, the Comptroller’s Office has increased its enforcement efforts to crack down on the smuggling and sale of illegal cigarettes and alcohol. Considering the current economy and the upcoming change in the tax on alcohol to nine percent, the Comptroller has pledged to continue working with local law enforcement officials to ensure that the state and local jurisdictions receive the revenue they are due.