ANNAPOLIS — As the concurrent financial and health crises continue to mount under the coronavirus’s grip, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says Marylanders should put all bill payments on hold and protect their money “like a mother lion guards her cubs” — regardless of their employment status.

Franchot said paying money toward any bills — including rent, loan, credit, supply and utility obligations — is not a smart play right now because “we have no idea how long this crisis is going to last and how severe the economic consequences are going to be.”

“It is not a matter of simply not having the money and not being able to pay,” he said. “Even if you have the money, I would urge people to call their creditors and ask for a forbearance of 90 days. People need to keep whatever they have in their checking account or savings account.”

While Franchot is not recommending Marylanders ignore their financial obligations, he said he’s insisting people get in contact with their creditors who, based on messaging he’s received from financial institutions across the state, will more than likely be willing to work with them.

The comptroller said Marylanders should not “do the normal, ‘Oh, gee. I’ve got just enough to pay my bills.’”

“No. Don’t send the money in until you communicate with your creditors and ask for a 90-day forbearance,” he said. “I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised at the response from the banks and the mortgage companies, the auto payment companies, the utility companies, and everybody else.”

Franchot nodded to his issuance of a statewide, 90-day tax holiday, which gives all Marylanders a pass on filing income taxes until July 15.

He said such forbearances will be “more beneficial to individual Marylanders than all of the federal money and all of the state money that’s being talked about.”

Payment holidays, Franchot said, aren’t “just for people who simply don’t have any money in their bank account.”

“This is for all of us because this is a statewide emergency,” he said, adding, “if you’re lucky enough to have plenty of cash, I would still ask for a payment holiday.”

Franchot provided the following list as a reminder of deadline extensions for income, corporate and business tax payments:

June 1 – Returns and payments are due for Maryland business-related taxes not collected in March, April and May including sales and use tax, withholding tax, and admissions & amusement tax, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, and motor fuel tax, as well as tire recycling fee and bay restoration fee returns.

July 15– Filing deadline for federal and state income tax.

July 15 – Deadline for Maryland individual, corporate, pass through entity, and fiduciary income tax payments, as well as March quarterly estimated payments.

October 15 — Deadline for filing Maryland income tax returns if a federal extension was filed.

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