The Field Enforcement Division is part of the Comptroller of Maryland’s Office and is responsible for the enforcement of tax laws regarding alcohol, motor fuel, tobacco, business licenses, and sales. The Division includes the Motor Fuel Laboratory, the State License Bureau, and the Field Enforcement Bureau. The Motor Fuel Laboratory is responsible for testing gasoline and other fuels along with alcohol to ensure that standards established by the State are met. The State License Bureau is responsible for tracking the 21 different business licenses that are issued by the State including licenses for restaurants, construction, and trading. Field inspectors are responsible for collecting samples for submission to the Motor Fuel Laboratory and visiting businesses to check for compliance with regulations.
The Field Enforcement Bureau includes Enforcement Agents who are sworn police officers with powers, duties, and responsibilities to enforce the law regarding alcoholic beverage tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, motor carrier tax, motor fuel and lubricants, and transient vendors (MD Tax §2–107). The Enforcement Agents have arrest powers pursuant to their status as police officers, but they also have enumerated powers in the Maryland Code to seize contraband untaxed alcohol, tobacco, or motor fuel (MD Tax §13–835). The Agents can also search vehicles if they suspect contraband and seize vehicles used to transport contraband. The Comptroller will attempt to notify the owner of the seized property and the owner can file a claim for return of the property within 30 days of the seizure. If an Enforcement Officer, seizes property in good faith under reasonable grounds, the Agent will be immune from liability for the seizure (MD Tax §2–108).
The Taxpayer Protection Act (Senate Bill 304) in Maryland expands the role of the Field Enforcement Bureau by adding admissions and amusement tax, income tax, and sales and use tax to the list of previous list of laws within the scope of Enforcement Agents. The legislation, which takes effect on July 1st, 2017, will grant Enforcement Agents police powers and responsibilities in these fields. The additional authority will help Enforcement Agents investigate and stop violators of Maryland tax law in more areas.