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Severna Park Voice: Being Comptroller Is More Than Just Collecting Taxes

By Peter Franchot

In my travels across Maryland, many people lightheartedly call me the “tax man.” It’s a job description that ranks right up there in popularity with a telemarketer, a baseball umpire or a parking enforcement officer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being your comptroller, but collecting taxes (and hopefully, for many of you, providing refunds), is just one part of what our more than 1,100 dedicated employees do every day.

I recently joined agents from our Field Enforcement Division in the treasury building’s so-called “vault,” where we store confiscated alcohol, tobacco and other products that have been seized from people who illegally import or sell these products without paying the proper Maryland taxes.

This past fiscal year, my agents confiscated 103,190 packs of cigarettes and 87,561 packages of other tobacco products with a combined retail value of $738,415. That amounts to a total tax loss of more than $250,000. In addition, the amount of distilled liquor and containers of beer that were seized more than doubled from the previous fiscal year.

This means a lot for John Q. Citizen.

It sends a message to potential tax cheats to stay out of Maryland.

It helps keep tobacco and alcohol out of the hands of underage youths.

And by cracking down on these illegal activities, it ensures tax revenues are properly collected and can be put toward much-needed projects like roads and schools.

Speaking of schools, I’d like to send my best wishes to students, teachers, administrators, support staff and other personnel — as well as parents and guardians — for a successful and rewarding year.

During my 10 years as comptroller, I have visited hundreds of schools across our great state and am always encouraged by the dedication of educators and the enthusiasm of students. If you ever want to witness the promise of the next generation, go sit in on a classroom and I’m confident you’ll leave feeling pretty positive.

We are fortunate in Maryland to have one of the best education systems in the country. But it doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a tremendous amount of work and energy at all levels – from superintendent on down – by professionals who deserve our profound gratitude.

Lastly, I hope your summer was as enjoyable as mine, spent creating lasting memories with family and friends. I look forward to next month’s column including a summary of the O’s improbable late-season run that ends with playoff baseball!

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