Comptroller Franchot Proposes Legislation to Enhance Protections from Fraudulent Tax Claims

-Comptroller to Enhance Agency’s Ability to Detect and Prosecute Tax Crimes-

WHO:             Comptroller Peter Franchot

WHAT:           As Maryland’s chief tax collector, Comptroller Franchot will announce new legislation to better protect Maryland taxpayers from tax fraud – The Taxpayer Protection Act – at a roundtable forum with the press this morning in the Assembly Room of the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building.

Since taking office in 2007, the Comptroller’s Office has stopped nearly $152 million in tax fraud. The proposed legislation will enhance the tools available to the Comptroller and his staff of highly-skilled tax and enforcement professionals to detect and prevent tax fraud. Important provisions of the bill include:

  • Enhancing the agency’s Field Enforcement Division’s authority to carry out the Tax General Article and investigate tax fraud;
  • Providing greater protections of Maryland taxpayers’ information; and,
  • Placing greater legal responsibility on tax preparers to properly file returns.

A main thrust of the legislation will be to extend the statute of limitations for tax crimes to six years from the current three years to allow sufficient time to properly investigate and charge in fraud cases in what are commonly highly sophisticated schemes.

Other bill provisions include:

  • Changing certain major criminal tax offenses to felony charges from misdemeanors;
  • Adding a fraudulent return preparer penalty;
  • Making it a felony for anyone to try to evade or defeat any tax imposed under the Tax General Article and imposing a penalty upon conviction of the offense; and
  • Providing legal authority to issue injunctions against preparers under investigation for fraud in order to protect consumers while investigations are ongoing.

Under the Comptroller’s leadership, there have been unprecedented investments made in dedicated personnel and advanced technology to detect and prevent tax fraud. Earlier this month, the Comptroller signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service, State Departments of Revenue, Tax Industry Electronic Return Transmission and related financial service organizations to protect taxpayers from the burdens associated with identity theft and refund fraud.

Following the forum in Annapolis, the Comptroller will travel to Baltimore to speak to the annual luncheon of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) at the Hyatt Regency, where he will discuss the proposed legislation and the safeguards it will provide for tax preparers and well as taxpayers.

WHEN            Today, December 1, 2015

WHERE:        10 a.m.                                                            Noon

Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building                 Maryland Assoc. of Certified Public Accountants

                        Assembly Room                                               Hyatt Regency

80 Calvert St.                                                   300 Light St.

Annapolis, MD 21401                                      Baltimore, MD 21202

CONTACT:  Barbara Sauers 410-260-7438 (office), 410-212-9414 (cell)