On March 21, the Maryland General Assembly passed Comptroller Brooke Lierman’s three legislative priorities on Crossover Day. Crossover Day is when a bill passes in one chamber and moves to the other in the Maryland General Assembly. Lierman expressed her gratitude towards the General Assembly for moving her legislative priorities forward and ensuring that Maryland’s tax systems are modernized, more equitable, and better positioned to address the needs and concerns of Maryland’s taxpayers.
The first priority that passed is the Tax Parity for Delayed Unemployment Insurance Payments HB708 / SB661. This legislation establishes a rebate program to refund taxes withheld from or paid due to Unemployment Insurance payments received in 2022. This will bring the recipients into parity with other taxpayers whose benefits were both earned and paid during the timeframe envisioned by the RELIEF Act of 2021. More than 45,000 Marylanders received more than $11 million in benefits during Tax Year 2022 that they earned in 2020 or 2021, and they had state taxes withheld from those payments.
The second priority that passed is the 21st Century Financial Systems Council-Establishment HB709 / SB659. This legislation will create a directive to investigate, adopt, and implement a new general accounting system for the entire state government. Maryland has one of the country’s oldest accounting and payment processing systems. It needs to begin a thoughtful but expedient process to replace this outdated system to guarantee continued service to vendors, businesses, and non-profits who rely on timely state agency payments and to balance the state’s checkbooks every year.
The third priority that passed is the Supporting All Taxpayers Act of 2023 HB707 / SB660. This legislation establishes an Office of the State Taxpayer Advocate within the Comptroller’s Office. It provides at least six staff members to assist Marylanders with timely resolutions to tax issues and work to identify and address systemic challenges to efficient tax processing and problem resolution for Marylanders. Unlike neighboring states and the federal government, Maryland does not have a designated department committed to helping taxpayers and their elected representatives utilize the Office of the Comptroller resources to resolve tax problems.
Additionally, three other bills brought by the Office of the Comptroller have also successfully made it to the opposite chamber in the General Assembly.
Comptroller Lierman was joined by a number of leading advocates and stakeholders on February 28 in support of her legislative agenda. Supporters included Robin McKinney, MSW, Co-Founder and CEO of the CASH Campaign of Maryland; Giavante’ Hawkins, Executive Director of the Maryland Society of Accounting and Tax Professionals; Pablo Blank, Immigration Integration and National Service -AmeriCorps- leader at CASA de Maryland; Amanda Rodriguez, Esq., Executive Director of TurnAround Inc; and Benjamin Orr, Founder, President and CEO of the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. Other guests included Beverly Winstead of IRS Help Attorneys, Tammy Bresnahan of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and Stacey Mink of The Impact Project.