Reporting Gigi Barnett
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — It’s a controversial bill designed to catch people with outstanding warrants. As Gigi Barnett explains, Anne Arundel County could be the first to withhold tax refunds if one sheriff gets his wish.
Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ronald Bateman wants to serve more warrants in his area but he’s having some difficulty finding “the wanted.” Now he has a plan to bring criminals to him.
“You don’t get your tax refund until you take care of that Anne Arundel County arrest warrant,” Bateman said.
So he’s teaming up with lawmakers to pass a bill that would make Anne Arundel the first county where people with outstanding warrants won’t see their tax refund until they see the sheriff.
“I see this as using the power of the almighty dollar to lure someone into the sheriff’s office,” Bateman said. “There won’t be any delay in getting their tax refund once they take care of their warrant.”
“Tax refunds are the property of the taxpayer, not the government,” said Scott Shaffer.
Shaffer is a member of the Republican Central Committee. Although the committee hasn’t yet decided on the issue, he recently testified against it.
“What this bill does is it creates another big government bureaucracy without actually reducing crime,” Shaffer said.
Anne Arundel County has about 8,000 outstanding arrest warrants. Half of them are for people in other parts of the state. Bateman says it doesn’t matter where someone lives, they, too, won’t see their refund until it’s settled.
If passed, defendants who file taxes jointly would see their tax refunds right away because the proposed law could possibly affect an innocent person.