Senate Preserves Local Option With Tax Refund Intercept

With a vote of 44-0 the Senate passed SB 653, a bill that would authorize programs to withhold income tax refunds from people with outstanding warrants. The bill was based upon a pilot program that found success in Anne Arundel County.

MACo opposed the bill in its original form as it set a requirement for all counties to participate in this program. To address these issues MACo advocated for amendments that would remove the requirement and make participation in the program a local option.

MACo suggests that a path forward on this issue would be to engage both local law enforcement and elected officials to craft an “opt-in” program that would allow suitable definition and implementation by each jurisdiction. A process of this sort could help counties guide the range of warrants appropriate to trigger interception. It could also help determine whether program implementation is best handled by law enforcement units either within county government or under a sheriff, as well as who should interface with the Office of the Comptroller. It would allow the counties flexibility in managing the range of other potential issues arising from a statewide option.

The proposed amendments were adopted by Senate. The amended Senate bill is now in the House where MACo will advocate for the same local option outcome.