Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building

Annapolis, Maryland

HISTORY OF THE COMPTROLLER'S OFFICE

 

The history of the comptroller's office parallels Maryland's history. Both have been filled with great leaders, unsung heroes, intrigue, and conflict. Like Maryland's other elected officials, the 30 people who have served as comptrollers have affected the lives of citizens in many ways since 1851.

 

The "Comptroller of the Treasury" was created by the state constitution of 1851 to have "general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the state." More specifically, the Comptroller's Office was created to keep watch over the State Treasurer whose activities were going unchecked.

 

The first comptroller, Philip Francis Thomas, had a salary of $2,500 and a staff of one clerk. This first office provided the money and accounting that made the government work and still does today. Comptroller Thomas and his early counterparts put together fiscal reports, printed piles of forms and collected revenue from lotteries and property taxes as well as license fees for peddling, hunting and fishing and getting married. The first comptrollers also spent a lot of their time signing forms until the office was able to obtain an official signature stamp in 1858.

 

Maryland's comptrollers have been lawyers, doctors, bankers, miners, newspapermen, teachers and farmers and all of them have been men. Some have had a huge impact on how we live today. Some have made a difference in a quieter way.

The Honorable Peter Franchot

33rd Comptroller of Maryland

 

Read the Comptroller's biography here

Some of the most notable Marylanders to hold this office include William Donald Schaefer, the legendary politician who was a beloved mayor of Baltimore and served two terms as governor; J. Millard Tawes, the only Marylander to serve as comptroller, governor, and treasurer; and Louis L. Goldstein, the 31st and longest-serving comptroller, who held this office for nearly 40 years.

 

Since the office was created by the Maryland Constitution of 1851, it has grown from a comptroller and one clerk to an agency of 1,100 employees. Peter Franchot, who previously served 20 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, was elected Maryland's 33rd comptroller in 2006.

 

The principal duty of this office is to collect taxes. With a budget of $110 million, the agency collects approximately $16 billion a year in state and local tax revenue and provides 12 branch offices throughout the state.

 

The major revenue sources are individual and business income taxes and sales and use taxes. The agency also collects taxes on motor fuel, estates, admissions and amusement, and alcohol and tobacco. The Comptroller also serves as the chief regulator of alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuels -- ensuring that our state's regulations governing these industries are being met to protect consumers and ensure tax fairness.

 

By enforcing the collection of use tax, the Comptroller's goal is to provide a level playing field for local businesses in competing with out-of-state retailers who sell through catalogs and on the Internet. Enforcement agents control the smuggling of untaxed cigarettes and alcohol into the state.

 

The Comptroller audits taxpayers for compliance, handles delinquent tax collection, and enforces license and unclaimed property laws. The agency publicizes forgotten bank accounts, insurance benefits and other unclaimed assets of taxpayers. The office provides information technology services critical to the daily operation of most state agencies. Acting as Maryland's chief accountant, the comptroller pays the state's bills, maintains its books, prepares financial reports, and pays state employees.

 

The Comptroller is also a member of the following state boards and commissions:

 

  • Board of Revenue Estimates, Chairman

  • State Retirement and Pension System, Vice Chairman of the Board

  • Board of Public Works

  • College Savings Plan of Maryland Board of Trustees

  • Board of State Canvassers

  • Commission on State Debt

  • Capital Debt Affordability Committee

  • Maryland Food Center Authority

  • Hall of Records Commission

  • Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation

  • Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority

  • Maryland State Employees Surety Bond Committee

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