Comptroller releases alcohol, cigarette, fuel violations
Reinforcing his agency’s continued commitment to aggressively enforce Maryland’s tax laws, Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) announced the final figures for alcohol, cigarette and motor fuel violations for fiscal 2017, according to a press release. Making the announcement surrounded by contraband products, Franchot praised the work of his agents and other law enforcement agencies in working together to protect law-abiding businesses from underground operations and tax cheats.
“The blatant disregard of Maryland tax laws, which protect law-abiding businesses and consumers, will not be ignored,” said Franchot in the release. “I am very proud of the diligent efforts of my field enforcement agents and inspectors to stop criminals and their contraband. These enforcement actions, along with the stricter penalties we’ve been able to enact, send a clear message that this type of illegal activity will not be tolerated in Maryland and that criminals will be punished.”
For fiscal 2017, which ended June 30, comptroller agents issued 87 cigarette violations resulting in the confiscation of a total of 103,190 packs of cigarettes and 87,561 packages of other tobacco products, with a combined retail value of $738,415. This represents a tax loss of more than $254,000. Fiscal 2017 saw an increase in the amount of confiscated alcohol. This past year saw 250 gallons of distilled liquor, 9.39 gallons of wine and more than 1,186 containers of beer confiscated along with the issuance of 25 violations. The total retail value of the seized alcohol was $42,843. The gallons of distilled liquor and containers of beer confiscated represent an increase of more than 100 percent from fiscal 2016, according to the release.
In addition to alcohol and tobacco violations, FED inspectors issued 120 motor fuel and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) violations, a decrease from the previous fiscal year. In addition, more than $217,000 of delinquent sales and use tax was collected by FED agents, all of which goes to the state’s general fund, according to the release.
Contraband alcohol and tobacco products are retained by the Comptroller’s Office as evidence against a defendant until the pending case is adjudicated. The Comptroller’s Office is required by state law to destroy or sell the product, with the exception of beer, which must be destroyed due to its short shelf life. Only licensed Maryland retailers or wholesalers can bid on seized alcohol or tobacco lots sold. All money collected from these sales is deposited in the general fund, according to the release.
“My office remains committed to ensuring a level playing field for all Maryland businesses. We will continue to work with law enforcement officials on the local, state and federal levels to keep contraband alcohol and tobacco products out of Maryland communities,” Franchot said.