Peter Franchot

Franchot Swearing in 2019

Welcome and thank you for visiting the Comptroller of Maryland website. It is a privilege to serve as Maryland's 33rd Comptroller – the state's chief fiscal officer. Not only do I collect state taxes and issue tax refunds, but I also track how and where Maryland taxpayers' hard-earned money goes to ensure your dollars are spent wisely – improving schools, strengthening communities, protecting the environment, supporting public safety and investing in the state's infrastructure needs.

As a steadfast champion of small, family-owned and local businesses that make up 70 percent of our state's economy, I also advocate for legislative reforms and fiscal policies that strengthen our state's business climate.

As chief executive officer of a 1,100-person state agency, I am focused on delivering respectful, responsive and results-oriented taxpayer service, and I am proud that our office is considered one of the most effective and efficient in the nation. The Maryland Constitution also charges our office with regulating alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel. We reunite taxpayers with their lost funds through our unclaimed property initiative; protect unsuspecting taxpayers from tax and identity thieves with a state-of-the-art fraud detection system; honor Marylanders who exemplify public service through the annual William Donald Schaefer Helping People Awards program; and ensure that thousands of dedicated state employees are paid on time.

And as Comptroller, I serve on a number of boards and commissions, including the Board of Public Works. Along with the Governor and State Treasurer, we review and approve billions of dollars in state contracts every other week – a truly unique system in this country that helps safeguard our state's outstanding financial reputation.

As your Comptroller, I will always fight for what is fair and act in the best interests of Maryland taxpayers. It is an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,
Peter V.R. Franchot

Comptroller Initiatives

Comptroller Franchot took office in 2007 declaring he would expand the purview of the agency. He has done so through a number of initiatives. As a former legislator with more than 20 years of experience, he will continue to be a strong advocate for education, health care, small businesses, transportation and environmental protection initiatives as well as being the state's fiscal watchdog.

Maryland's Tax Free Weekend for Certain Energy Star Products

Consumers will get a break from the state's 6 percent sales tax on qualifying Energy Star products from February 15-17, 2020. During Shop Maryland Energy weekend, the following Energy Star products are tax free:

  • Air conditioners
  • Washers and dryers
  • Furnaces
  • Heat pumps
  • Boilers
  • Solar water heaters (tax-exempt at all times now)
  • Standard size refrigerators
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs

Shop Maryland Energy weekend will occur in perpetuity (or until legislative amendment) from the Saturday immediately preceding the third Monday in February until the third Monday of February. Additionally, a tax free week on clothing and footwear priced $100 or less will occur every year during the second week of August.

From 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, February 15, through midnight on Monday, February 17, 2020, qualifying ENERGY STAR products will be exempt from Maryland's 6 percent sales tax. For additional information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions

More information on Shop Maryland Energy

Comptroller Peter Franchot is pleased to announce the R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. Award for Distinguished Public Service. This new award recognizes past or present elected officials at all levels of government who exemplify the true spirit of public service, demonstrating strong leadership, humility and compassion for the communities they serve.

The nomination window has now closed. Stay tuned for details on upcoming award presentations.

Click here to Download the Entry Form

Social Media Graphic

Citing a growing number of reports about serious illnesses, lung disease and deaths that are attributable to vaping, Comptroller Peter Franchot announced the creation of a task force to examine the public health and safety implications of electronic smoking devices (ESD). Members will represent local and state government, public health institutions, public health and safety experts, Maryland businesses, industry representatives, and the education community. This new task force – titled “e-facts” – will convene later this fall and will continue into early 2020. The task force directives will be:

  • To achieve a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of ESDs, including the distinctions between various products within the marketplace;
  • To gain a comprehensive picture of the public health and safety of ESDs and commercial effects of product sales in Maryland; and,
  • To recommend new and stronger laws to ensure that consumers – particularly young people – are protected.

Resources

The second Sunday of August to the following Saturday is designated as Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week each year. That means qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less, per item, are exempt from the state sales tax. The first $40 of a backpack or bookbag purchase is also tax-free. Accessory items, except for backpacks, are not included. The Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week for 2019 is Sunday, August 11 - Saturday, August 17.

Additionally, there is a tax-free three-day weekend every February during which the state sales tax will not apply to the sale of any Energy Star Product listed below, or solar water heater. The Shop Maryland Energy Tax-Free weekend for 2020 is February 16-18.

Energy Star Product means an air conditioner, clothes washer or dryer, furnace, heat pump, standard size refrigerator, compact fluorescent light bulb, light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb, dehumidifier, or programmable thermostat that has been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable Energy Star Efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Shop Maryland Resources

For more information:
Call (800) MD-TAXES or (410) 260-7980 from Central Maryland

Comptroller Peter Franchot has finished accepting nominations for a new award that defines Maryland's local business community and the winners have been chosen. The Cornerstone Award exemplifies the following attributes:

  • This award recognizes small and family-owned businesses that celebrate the guiding values of independence, innovation and investment that define Maryland's local business community.
  • The Cornerstone Award further celebrates businesses in the retail, agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and entertainment sectors -- that are part of the fabric of their community.
  • The recipients have adapted to economic challenges, overcome the changing marketplace and evolved to meet customer demands, while showing a commitment to the community through sponsorships, community service, charitable giving and civic involvement/leadership.
  • One business has been selected from each of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City.
  • Businesses of any sector and any size are eligible for the award.
Award presentations began June 1, 2019 and will continue through December.
2019 Cornerstone Award Recipients for Talbot County Teddy Bear Fresh

List of Cornerstone Award Winners by County:
Allegany Lennox East
Anne Arundel Homestead Gardens
Baltimore City Eddie's of Roland Park
Baltimore County Bengie's Drive-In
Calvert Patriot Construction
Caroline Preston Ford
Carroll Simmons Homemade Ice Cream
Cecil Purnell Body Shop
Charles SMECO
Dorchester Emily's Produce
Frederick Frederick Shell Carwash
Garrett High Mountain Sports
Harford Music Land
Howard Clark's Elioak Farm
Kent The Bookplate
Montgomery Tastee Diner
Prince George's Franklin's Brewery, Restaurant and General Store
Queen Anne's Fisherman's Inn
Somerset MeTompkin Oyster Company
St. Mary's Towne Florist
Talbot Teddy Bear Fresh
Washington Krumpe's Do-Nuts
Wicomico Jolly Roger Amusement Park

The William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award is presented by the Comptroller of Maryland to the individuals and organizations in each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City who best exemplify William Donald Schaefer's lifelong commitment to helping people.

Winners are selected based on their demonstration of:

  • Improving the community
  • Swiftly solving a citizen problem through effective government intervention
  • Directly aiding the most vulnerable in society or
  • Creating a public/private partnership to improve the lives of Marylanders

The 2019 nomination process will soon be getting underway. Stay tuned!

2018 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award Recipient
The 2018 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award Recipient Rev. Dr. Chip Lee- It's in the Bag Lunch Program



The following people/organizations received the 2018 William Donald Schaefer Award:

Anne Arundel County Mackenzie Boughey
Baltimore City Alvin Hathaway
Baltimore County Janet Kurland
Calvert County Concerned Black Women of Calvert County
Caroline County The Men for Change, Inc.
Carroll County Frank Illiano
Cecil County Missy Reynolds
Charles County Connie Willoughby
Dorchester County Colonel William Crabson
Frederick County Bonnie Swann
Garrett County It's in the Bag Lunch Program (Rev. Dr. Chip Lee)
Harford County We Cancerve Movement (Grace Callwood)
Howard County Young Ran Smith
Kent County Barbara Reed
Montgomery County Janet Neumann
Prince George's County Warrior Music Foundation
Queen Anne's County Gregory Couch
St. Mary's County Wrapping Arms Around Many (Dolly Griffin/Jennifer Herriman)
Talbot County Talbot Goes Purple (Lucie Hughes and Sheriff Joe Gamble)
Washington County Laurie Brewer, For Otis Sake Rescue Group
Wicomico County Bull Hudson (Posthumous)
Worcester County Former Sen. Jim Mathias
Working for Taxpayer Fairness and Convenience

Wayfair
On June 21, 2018, the United State Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair that sellers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where the sellers do not have physical presence, overruling the Court’s prior decision in Quill v. North Dakota. Now, out-of-state vendors must maintain records to determine whether they will be required to remit Maryland sales tax on retail sales for delivery into Maryland. Online sales transactions are subject to the State’s 6 percent sales and use tax if the sale is made by a retailer who, either within the previous or current calendar year, made at least 200 sales transactions within the state, or the retailer earned at least $100,000 in gross revenue on sales in Maryland.

Compass
The COMPASS tax processing system is in the process of replacing the agency’s State of Maryland Tax (SMART) system, Computer Assisted Collection System and other antiquated tax processing systems that operate on outdated, often-unsupported technology platforms. Highlights of the new system include improved fraud detection and prevention programs, increased ability for taxpayers to manage their accounts via online self-service applications, maximized audit, collection, reporting and estimating functionality, and overall increased system stability. Compass is to be implemented on a rolling basis over the next several years.

Tax Payer Protection Act
In 2017 the Tax Payer Protection Act (TPA) was signed into law giving the Comptroller more tools to combat increased fraudulent and predatory activity. The TPA placed greater legal responsibility on tax preparers to properly file returns and added a fraudulent return preparer financial penalty. It also extended police powers to the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division (FED) to properly investigate and prepare cases of tax fraud for prosecution.

Brewery Modernization Act and Beer Franchise Law Reform
The Comptroller was instrumental in updating Maryland’s antiquated beer laws which culminated in the Brewery Modernization Act and Beer Franchise Law Reform in 2019. Among the many changes, breweries are now able to sell 5,000 barrels of its own beer each year for on-premises consumption, instead of up to 2,000 or 3,000 barrels under specified circumstances and a brewery that obtains a Class 7 limited beer wholesaler’s license is authorized to sell up to 5,000 barrels of its own beer annually, instead of 3,000 barrels. Additionally, brewers now only need to provide 45 days’ notice to terminate a contract with their wholesaler and are not required to show any cause.

Comptroller Franchot is a strong proponent of financial literacy education. He spearheaded a grassroots petition campaign to gather over 10,000 signatures to present to the Maryland General Assembly session to persuade them to implement a state-wide high school graduation requirement in personal finance. In addition, he has worked with local jurisdictions and private sector partners to help create opportunities and programs that will help prepare our students for life after school. Comptroller Franchot�s efforts have seen several jurisdictions adopt a financial literacy graduation requirement, new programs and courses introduced in every school district across Maryland, and the creation of a finance park that allows students to test their knowledge in real world situations.

For more information on the Comptroller's initiative to promote financial literacy, contact Emily Gontrum at egontrum@marylandtaxes.gov or call her at 410-260-7561.

Important links for financial literacy

Comptroller Franchot created the Better With Less Award in 2011 to recognize the countless Maryland businesses innovatively operating at lower costs. The award was given to one business or organization in each of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City and recognized organizations that achieved economic success while using less resources, used an innovative means to efficiently operate, identified a niche market in the current economic climate or provided new economic opportunities for local communities. More than 100 nominations were received.

Bright Lights Award

Comptroller Franchot announced the Bright Lights Award in December 2016 to pay tribute to business and nonprofit leaders and organizations that foster innovation in their fields. The Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recognized and celebrated innovation in the private and nonprofit sectors that strengthened Maryland's economy, generated jobs and tax revenue and developed new ideas that more effectively delivered services and products within the marketplace. One winner was selected from each of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City, and businesses or nonprofits of any size were eligible for the award.

Cool Classrooms

The Comptroller established the Cool Classrooms initiative in 2012 to galvanize public support for installing air conditioning in all Baltimore County Public Schools. Historically, school systems around the state have faced the same issue and have been able to solve it with great success by installing portable air conditioning units, giving school systems time to install central air while keeping students and teachers comfortable.

End Montgomery County Alcohol Monopoly

Comptroller Franchot held a press conference on December 22, 2015 to announce the findings of a state Bureau of Revenue Estimates study on the economic impact of introducing private sector competition on alcohol sales and distribution in Montgomery County.

Golden Apple Award

The Comptroller created the Golden Apple Award in 2012 to recognize outstanding volunteers, organizations and individuals within the Maryland public school system. Winners were selected on their demonstration of superior volunteer work in Maryland public schools. Countless numbers of men, women and organizations donate their time and resources to volunteer at public schools throughout the state, all without pay and sometimes without any recognition. This award provided the accolades these volunteers truly deserve.

Maryland Masters Award

The Maryland Masters Award recognized public-school students who displayed extraordinary artistic skills, talents and a vision for Maryland's future. During the 2013-2014 school year, 55 students from 19 jurisdictions throughout the state took part in the program. The Comptroller selected students from each of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City in grades K-12 to have a piece of original artwork on exhibit in the Comptroller's Office in Annapolis.

School After Labor Day

In August 2013, Comptroller Franchot released an economic development impact report on a post-Labor Day start for public schools. Completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, the report found that a delayed school start in Maryland would result in an additional $74.3 million in direct economic activity, including $3.7 million in new wages and a separate $7.7 million in state and local revenue.

A citizen-led grassroots initiative to start public schools after Labor Day kicked off in August 2014 to give families more time together, small businesses an economic boost and teachers a much-needed break. More than 13,240 Marylanders signed the "Let Summer Be Summer" petition, far exceeding the 10,000-signature goal. It was presented to members of the Maryland General Assembly at the beginning of the 2015 legislative session.

The "Let Summer Be Summer" campaign resulted from a governor's task force which recommended in May 2014 that Maryland public schools delay opening until after Labor Day, while continuing to end the school year in early to mid-June. The state task force, which met for nearly a year to consider the issue, voted 11 to 4 in favor of a later start date statewide.

Governor Hogan signed an executive order on August 31, 2016 requiring all Maryland public schools to begin classes after Labor Day. The executive order requires Maryland public schools to start classes after Labor Day and to end the school year by June 15. The new policy began with the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

Silver Hammer Award

Comptroller Franchot established the Silver Hammer Award in 2017 for schools that have demonstrated a commitment to fiscal responsibility through superior school maintenance. The Comptroller has seen many examples through his visits to public schools across the state where effective maintenance - including simple and affordable investments like a fresh coat of paint, new carpeting or a power washing - have made a world of difference. In addition to providing communities with a renewed sense of pride in their schools, research has confirmed the obvious and positive impact that clean, attractive and comfortable facilities have on student performance.

About the Reform on Tap Act of 2018

Citing the significant economic, fiscal and community contributions of Maryland's craft brewers and the industry's immense potential, Comptroller Peter Franchot has submitted legislation for consideration during the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session that would fundamentally reform the antiquated laws and burdensome regulations that govern the state's craft breweries.

    The Reform on Tap Act of 2018 proposes the following:
  • Removes all limits on beer production, taproom sales and take-home sales;
  • Repeals the "buy-back" provision that requires brewers to purchase their beer from distributors at a marked-up cost if they exceed the 2,000-barrel limit on taproom sales.

  • Lifts unnecessary restrictions for take-home sales;  
  • Guarantees the issuance of Class B or D beer licenses to microbreweries upon request;  

  • Lets local jurisdictions set guidelines for taproom operating hours;
  • Allows smaller brewers to self-distribute;  
  • Eliminates franchise law requirements; and  
  • Removes restrictions on contract brewing that inhibits start-up businesses.

The legislation reflects the findings of the Comptroller's Reform on Tap Task Force, which held eight meetings during this summer and fall to get a better grasp of the state's current laws and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for craft brewers. The 40-member task force represented every region in the state and industry stakeholders including brewers, distributors, retailers, consumers and lawmakers from both parties.

An economic impact study conducted by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates found that in Maryland, the craft beer industry had an overall economic impact of $802.7 million and supported or created 6,541 jobs in 2016. The industry contributed nearly $110 million in local, state and federal revenues, which directly supports investments in education, public safety, transportation and the environment.

Still, the state is a net importer of craft beer, meaning it consumes more (275,000 barrels) than it produces (247,000 barrels). Furthermore, the National Brewers Association ranked Maryland 47th in economic impact, 36th in number of breweries and 25th in gallons produced per adult aged 21 years and over ? all indications that the state's craft beer industry has plenty of room to grow if the arbitrary restrictions currently in place are lifted.

More information about the Comptroller?s legislation can be found in the documents below.

Reform on Tap Task Force Archival Materials

In response to the passage of House Bill 1283 during the 2017 Legislative Session and with the goal of modernizing Maryland's beer laws and promoting economic growth across the State, Comptroller Peter Franchot established "Reform On Tap" Task Force in April 2017.

The task force, chaired by Comptroller Franchot, was composed of 40 members representing key stakeholder groups within the beer industry, and conducted a comprehensive review of the State's antiquated laws that govern the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of Maryland craft beer.

The Task Force held 8 public meetings and 2 town hall meetings across the state. Video proceedings of Task Force meetings can be found in the Task Force's official Facebook page

Meeting Documents

The following are documents and materials that were distributed during task force meetings.

  • May 24, 2017 
    Agenda
    PowerPoint Presentation by Jeffrey Kelly, Director of the Comptroller's Field Enforcement Division. Topic: Maryland's Beer Laws: Overview and Historical Perspective
    Handout materials from Pete Johnson, manager of state and regulatory affairs, National Brewers Association. Topic: Maryland's Craft Beer Environment: A National Perspective
    PowerPoint Presentation by Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of Brewers Association of Maryland; Allison Burr-Livingstone, Vice President of Public Affairs, Visit Baltimore; and Mayor Jake Day of Salisbury, MD. Topic: Why It Matters: The Economic Impact of Maryland's Craft Beer Industry

 

June 22, 2017

July 20, 2017

August 15, 2017