When Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold returned his automatic pay raise in solidarity with county workers, he also entitled himself to an income tax deduction. Leopold says he declined it.
Because the returns technically amount to a donation to Anne Arundel County government, they could have entitled him to a bigger refund on his taxes. But that extra money would also have meant breaking a promise not to take a raise if the government could not afford one for county workers.
Since 2009, Leopold has written seven checks, repaying $18,432.49 to the county government, according to receipts obtained by The Baltimore Sun. They are posted below the text of this article.
The sum he gave back was calculated to ensure that Leopold paid back every extra cent, plus the equivalent of however many furlough days county employees took.
IRS guidelines count donations to state, federal and local governments — and those to the government of Puerto Rico — as charitable deductions. Regular income taxes obviously don't count as "donations," but giving cash to a police department for a reward on crime tips or handing over a sum to the Social Security trust fund does, according to IRS Publication 526.
Through a spokesman, Leopold said he had not deducted the repayments. He declined to release his tax returns.
Back in 2009, Leopold announced he would return the $5,000 annual raise the law awarded him. Because the raise was set in county law before he took office, Leopold did not have the option to decline it in the first place.
Anne Arundel's financial picture worsened the following year, and in 2010, employees were given days off without pay to help balance the budget. Then, too, Leopold promised he would feel the financial pain and deduct a day's pay from his check for each one the employees took. Since then county workers have not received raises.
A recent court order resolving a labor dispute with public safety workers required the county to award 3 percent raises to about 1,500 county employees. But the $1.6 million in pay increases did nothing for the paychecks of the county's approximately 4,000 other employees
The same day Leopold introduced legislation to grant the raises in November, he wrote a $1,727.75 check to give six months' worth of his pay raise back to the county. That day, he also announced that other employees, including himself, would continue to go without raises.