Tax day is here: Maryland Comptroller offers help to financially-strained taxpayers, gives out personal number

Maryland

"We’re not interested in making your life more difficult, but you really need to file something with us."

MARYLAND (WDVM) — This year, July 15 is the new April 15 when it comes to taxes, as the coronavirus pandemic prompted Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot earlier in the year to make the unprecedented decision and extend — by 90 days — the state’s due date for tax filing and payment.  

“Now, July 15th has arrived, we need to collect the taxes — the main message is that we’re not interested in getting blood from a stone, we are not the IRS, we’re going to be very light-handed,” Franchot said in a telephone interview. “You’re not going to see increased penalties. If you are unable to pay your taxes, just let us know.” 

As Marylanders roll in to a tax-filing day delayed by the pandemic, Franchot is assuring taxpayers that his office will work tirelessly to create payment plans that work for financially stricken families and businesses — while also making it clear that neglecting to file your taxes, is not a good option and could lead to additional and unnecessary inconveniences. 

“If people just throw up their hands and say ‘I don’t have any money and I’m not going to file a tax return,’ that causes all sorts of problems. So, we’re not interested in making your life more difficult, but you really need to file something with us, even if you don’t have any money and can’t pay your taxes,” he mentioned. 

In a typical year, roughly 3.2 million tax returns are filed in the state — so far this year, a total of 2.5 million have been filed, with $1.93 billion in refunds issued. 

Since the majority of tax services can be processed online, the Comptroller’s Office is recommending that you visit marylandtaxes.gov first – however, if you still need to receive customer service, there’s nine offices scattered across the state that are currently open. You’re going to need to make an appointment first before coming, and wearing a face mask is required. 

“We are always there to respect the taxpayers, to be responsive to the taxpayers, and be result-oriented,” said Sharonne Bonardi, the Deputy Comptroller of Maryland, referring to their agency’s “Three ‘R'” approach: respect, responsive, and result-oriented. “So, we put taxpayers first. We were one of the first departments of revenue — if not the first in the country — to extend the deadline beyond the personal income tax, because, small businesses matter.”

As elected officials across the country seem to struggle between the choice of reopening the economy or keeping their constituents safe during the crisis, Franchot told said that the decision for him was pretty easy. 

“Public safety first and foremost. If we don’t have any, kind of, medical solution, and we don’t have any sense of personal safety from the virus, we’re not going to have an economy,” he said. “I’m a big fan of following the science and getting the virus under control and then reopening carefully the economy. Call me on my personal cellphone: (301) 332-1961, and we’ll try to help out.”

Now, it’s certainly uncommon for elected officials to give out their personal cellphone numbers to the public, but Franchot was definitely up front about it, saying that he probably won’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers, but you can always leave a voicemail message or text him, and a team member will get back to you. 

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