By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Comptroller of Maryland has released a list of people who owe the most taxes, and the list includes prominent defense attorney Warren Brown.

The annual list includes a total of 45 businesses and individuals who collectively owe $12.7 million in taxes, penalties and interest.

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Brown is No. 8 on the individuals’ list, owing $250,000.

Brown told WJZ that he has always paid taxes, but his longtime accountant somehow dropped the ball then disappeared.

“I had to change accountants this past year and that’s been a very expensive proposition, just going back and putting pieces together and going back over all the records. So I’ve made significant efforts to get right, and in the meantime, I am paying currently taxes that are required,” he said.

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For nearly two decades, the Maryland Comptroller’s Office in Annapolis has been using the tax “scofflaws” list as a public tactic to recoup revenue from unpaid taxes.

The deputy comptroller said they’ve repeatedly contacted every individual and business on the list and this was their last resort.

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“We have had contact with most of these taxpayers for years where we’ve sent notices to them, various attempts at collection of this debt and prior to posting this list, we again make contact with taxpayers,” Deputy State Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi said.

The department said it has collected $45 million over the years, including an average of $2 million each year — which is money that goes to vital services like road repairs and schools.

Vital services Brown himself acknowledged need to be funded.

“I pay taxes and I’ve paid a lot of taxes. I’m going to make good on these because it is important in order to pave the streets, in order to pay the police, in order to support these very valuable social programs, we can only do it through taxes,” he said.

The consequences for unpaid taxes are liens placed on property or the state shutting down a business over an unpaid tax bill.

The top individual owes $1.5 million while the top business was just north of that at $1.6 million.

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Ava-joye Burnett