We are living in unprecedented times. As our state, nation and the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much fear and uncertainty about what tomorrow brings and what the future holds.
But there is also reason for hope and appreciation.
I want to thank the Hogan administration, state legislators, local governments, health professionals and first responders, and all our partners, for working collaboratively and urgently to protect the wellbeing of Marylanders. I must also recognize the dedicated team at the comptroller’s office for staying committed to the mission of helping taxpayers (more on that later.)
I am also grateful to you for heeding the directives from Governor Hogan by staying home as much as possible to help protect public health and prevent the spread of this disease.
We all must do our part to overcome this pandemic.
As Maryland’s chief fiscal officer, I am deeply concerned about the economic implications that coronavirus will leave in its wake.
Maryland's local, independent businesses are the lifeblood of our state's economy and the pillars of their communities. These social distancing orders and closure orders, while necessary, are battering these entrepreneurs and the employees who support them.
Having spoken directly with dozens of small-business owners, they all say the same thing: in the absence of extraordinary action, many of them will go under. The fallout — jobs wiped out, life savings drained, community investment vanished — would go far beyond shuttered brick-and-mortar buildings.
To survive, small businesses need cash to pay their employees, vendors, landlords and banks.
We can all help by ordering takeout or delivery from local restaurants or buying a gift card now from Maryland retailers for future use. Remember, these are the businesses who support area little league teams, run fundraisers for your school PTA and donate to those in need. If you can, I urge you to return the favor and help #KeepTheLightsOn.
You can find a county-by-county list of area restaurants and other facilities that are offering carryout, curbside or delivery service at www.marylandtaxes.gov.
Additionally, I’m pleased with the Hogan administration’s actions to offer a $177 million business relief program to help them ride out the crisis, by providing immediate financial support to cover expenses and preserve jobs.
But that can’t be the end of it. I’ve called for Governor Hogan and legislative leaders to use at least $500 million from the state’s rainy day fund for additional support. I’ve been as strong an advocate as anyone for maintaining this account over the years, but in the midst of a torrential downpour, now is the time to use those funds to help our friends and neighbors.
Meanwhile, at my office in Annapolis, a skeleton crew of essential employees is working hard to process tax returns, mail refunds to taxpayers and ensure tens of thousands of state employees get paid. These staffers are following strict health and social distancing guidelines at the office as they work to serve the needs of taxpayers.
While our branch offices across the state are closed as a precaution, there are still many ways to get your tax questions answered, which include:
Taxpayers may experience longer response times to questions and the processing of tax returns due to limited on-site staffing.
A few other things we have done and continue to monitor for potential additional changes:
The filing and payment extensions are particularly important because they free up money for individuals and businesses to use for other critical needs as this pandemic persists. That said, if you have not yet filed taxes and expect a refund, file online and use direct deposit so we can get your money to you as quickly as possible.
We’re here to help in any way we can. Stay healthy and stay safe. We’re all in this together — and difficult as it may seem now, we will be stronger for it.