Counties Urge Continuing the Warrant Intercept Program

MACo’s Legislative Director, Natasha Mehu, testified in support for SB 109, Maryland Income Tax Refund – Warrant Intercept Program – Termination Repeal, January 30, 2019.

This bill would remove the sunset on the Warrant Intercept Program, allowing it to continue on after the end date of September 30, 2019. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Comptroller’s Office, and counties strongly agree that the program should continue.

The Warrant Intercept Program allows individuals with outstanding warrants to turn themselves into the police. Due to the allowance of this process, law enforcement can avoid confrontation, meaning less potentially hostile situations.

From the MACo testimony:

The Warrant Intercept Program has been an effective partnership between the counties who have been piloting the program and the Comptroller’s Office. The program provides a safe and controlled process for individuals with outstanding warrants to be notified about the warrants and to turn themselves in to law enforcement. In counties that opt into the program, the Comptroller informs individuals about their outstanding warrants and may withhold their tax return until law enforcement indicates the warrant has been satisfied. The program was set to sunset on September 30, 2019. SB 109 would repeal that sunset, allowing the program to continue indefinitely and affording the ability for additional counties to opt into the program.
Currently, six counties participate in the program: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Harford, Howard, Prince George’s, and Washington. According to the fiscal note, the GOCCP reports that the Comptroller’s Office withheld the income tax refunds of 1,184 individuals in 2018. This totaled $816,427 in withheld refunds or about $690 per person. The program has demonstrated its success since its initial launch in Anne Arundel County in 2012. It is anticipated that more counties may join the program.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.