Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 22, 2014

Cut them off

Wanted on an outstanding warrant? Then forget about collecting your Maryland state tax refund.

That is the gist of what law enforcement agencies across the state are hoping takes place through statewide legislation that would bar fugitives from receiving a tax refund from the state comptroller.

The idea surfaced in 2012 when Anne Arundel County enacted legislation to withhold tax refunds from anyone wanted on an outstanding warrant. The idea is now taking hold elsewhere. Washington County lawmakers have been asked to pass a tax refund ban bill. On Tuesday, Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson will join the Maryland Sheriff’s Association in Annapolis to support legislation for a statewide bill.

Sponsored by Del. Anne Kaiser of Montgomery County, the statewide bill would require the sheriff’s office to provide the comptroller’s office with the names of offenders with outstanding warrants. When county residents file a tax return, their state income tax refund would be withheld and the comptroller’s office would send them a letter with instructions on how to collect them.

Local authorities have ratcheted up efforts to nab fugitives with outstanding warrants. They have used what they call a Safe Streets initiative to bring fugitives into custody.

While the Safe Streets effort has shown great success, withholding state tax refund checks will give authorities a double-barrel weapon to find people who have been on the run.

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