A key part of the MACPA’s legislative agenda is coming to life.
As Maryland’s General Assembly begins deliberating Comptroller Brooke Lierman’s budget requests, Lierman’s office has reached out to the MACPA and its members for support — and with good reason.
The association’s 2023 legislative agenda includes support for a properly funded budget that will allow the Comptroller’s Office to retain its current team, hire additional qualified personnel by offering competitive salary levels, and allow for a more modern IT system for efficiency of the agency’s tax administration operations.
The MACPA has submitted testimony to both the House and Senate in Annapolis this month in support of the Comptroller’s budget requests. A paper distributed to legislators during CPA Day 2023 in January outlines CPAs’ support for an appropriately funded Comptroller’s Office, as follows:
“Among its many functions, the Comptroller’s Office is responsible for collecting tax revenue and enforcing compliance with the state’s tax laws. As the collector of much of the state’s cash, it is logical that the Office be supported with a proper budget for appropriate personnel levels as well as technology resources.
“MACPA members recognize the dedication and hard work of the Comptroller’s staff; we also observe the challenges the Office experiences, not only with the ongoing overall labor shortage in the economy, but also with the constraints of competing with the other employment options that current and potential future employees have, which lead to difficulties in retaining and recruiting the proper number and appropriate experience levels of personnel.
“The Comptroller’s Office’s personnel and systems have been subjected to great strain in recent years, and all signs point to more of the same. The COVID-19 pandemic added unforeseen responsibilities to a staff that was already stretched very thin. Maryland’s RELIEF Act of 2021 required the Comptroller’s Office to issue and distribute economic impact payments to low-income taxpayers and administer newly enacted exemptions and credits, among other provisions, in addition to the usual tax administration tasks. During the same time frame, there were federal tax changes in addition to the Maryland changes, all of which required the Comptroller’s staff to educate Maryland’s citizens about the new provisions by issuing various communications, create multiple filing forms, and revise IT processes. In addition, personnel had to field thousands of emails and phone calls about the many new issues, on top of the high rate usually experienced during tax filing season. Further federal and Maryland tax law changes in the subsequent years have created a similar environment each year, albeit over different areas of change. Throughout, the agency’s ancient IT system has added to the challenges the staff face in performing the Office’s required functions.
“Most recently, the General Assembly enacted legislation mandating that the Comptroller’s Office establish a Legal Division and a process for issuing private letter rulings to taxpayers and practitioners, so that taxpayers have a way of receiving binding answers to their Maryland tax questions. The MACPA applauded this change as a hallmark of good tax administration, and one that will benefit not only the taxpayers but also the state when the taxpayers know the correct tax amounts to pay currently rather than years later after audits or even litigation. However, it is a process that requires specifically trained and highly experienced tax attorneys and CPAs, only some of whom currently work in the Comptroller’s Office.
“We support a properly funded budget that will allow the Comptroller’s Office to retain its current team as well as hire additional qualified personnel by offering competitive salary levels, and also allow for a more modern IT system for efficiency of the agency’s tax administration operations.”
We’ll keep you posted on how the Comptroller’s budget progresses as it makes its way through the legislative process.