Special To The Dispatch
As our state, nation and the world battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much fear and uncertainty of what the future holds. We must first and foremost protect public health and I commend Governor Larry Hogan and his administration for the leadership our state needs at this time to protect our citizens from this deadly virus.
Maryland’s federal, state, county and local leaders are working collaboratively with our dedicated health care professionals and first responders to handle this unprecedented emergency.
While our first priority must remain the physical wellbeing of our people, we must also immediately protect the economic wellbeing of our state. This is why as the state’s chief fiscal officer, I am calling on financial institutions, small and large businesses and consumers to work together to find solutions that help our struggling families and businesses during these extremely stressful times.
Now is the time for a 90-day payment holiday from monthly bills to help families and businesses struggling to keep their limited cash to manage the crisis and pay employees and suppliers. I encourage Marylanders facing economic hardships to immediately reach out to your creditors, property managers and suppliers to request payment deferrals or manageable payment options.
I have personally spoken with banking officials and others. They understand we’re dealing with an economic catastrophe and that families and small businesses are just trying to hang on from one day to the next. The ones I’ve spoken with want to help and are already finding solutions. They recognize the gravity of the situation. The banks, in particular, are incentivized not to allow mortgages and loans to go into default.
We all must do our part to ease the burdens of those living paycheck to paycheck and offer multiple lifelines to small business owners who are the backbone of Maryland’s economy. We are all in this together and I thank those financial institutions who have already stepped up to help our community.
If companies won’t help with a 90-day deferral, ask for a 60, or a 30 deferral. If that doesn’t work, ask for a payment reduction. Don’t take no as the first answer. Any payment deferral means thousands of dollars back into your pocket.
As Comptroller, I will always advocate for the taxpayer, but you are your best advocate.
As consumers, we can all help by continuing to support our local businesses – whether it’s ordering takeout or delivery from your favorite restaurants, pre-paying for future haircuts from your stylist, taking virtual classes from your gym or buying a gift card from your local gift shop. These are the local businesses that support our little league teams, fundraisers for your school PTA and donate to those in need. If you can, I urge you to return the favor and help #KeepTheLightsOn. Join our viral social media sharing to support these companies.
I’m pleased with the Hogan administration’s actions to make available millions in business relief programs to help them ride out the crisis, provide immediate financial support to cover expenses, and save jobs. But we must do more. 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 and immediate cash assistance to these businesses – even our self-employed, sole proprietorships that currently cannot access many of these programs.
Over the years, I’ve been as strong an advocate as anyone for maintaining the Rainy Day Fund, but in the midst of a torrential downpour, now is the time to use those funds to help our friends and neighbors.
Our number one concern, once we have resolved the public health crisis, will be the reconstruction of the Maryland economy.
My office is committed to assisting taxpayers in any way we can during this crisis. Most monthly business taxes are now not due until June 1 or later if necessary. Taxpayers have until July 15 to file and pay any income taxes due from 2019.
If you paid your March business taxes before these extensions were announced, you can request a refund if needed by emailing email@example.com.
Our employees are working hard to process tax returns, mail refunds to taxpayers and ensure tens of thousands of state employees get paid.
For taxpayers who are currently on payment plans for taxes owed to the state but are having hardship making payments, they can email our Individual Collection Section at COVID19@marylandtaxes.gov.
General tax questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re here to help in any way we can. Stay healthy and stay safe. We’re all in this together.
(The writer is the 33rd Comptroller of the State of Maryland.)