George H. Spriggs Jr., 68, chief of state's income tax division

October 03, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

George H. Spriggs Jr., who in his 39 years of state service rose to become the state's chief income tax collector, died of pneumonia Tuesday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The Annapolis resident was 68.

The Smith Island native graduated from Crisfield High School and earned an accounting and finance degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. After service in the Army, he joined the Maryland National Guard.

In 1958, he began working as an auditor for the state's comptroller, J. Millard Tawes, who went on to become governor. Mr. Spriggs rose within the Income Tax Division and became its director in 1973.

"When I first started, we didn't have a computer system. Can you imagine processing millions of dollars worth of taxes by hand?" Mr. Spriggs said in an interview with The Sun in 1997, when he retired.

When he stepped down, his boss, state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, credited him with processing more than 5.6 million tax returns and 2.8 million tax payments for fiscal year 1996, totaling $8.5 billion in collections.

"George doesn't do a lot of bragging," Mr. Goldstein said at a retirement ceremony in 1997. "In the beginning, all we had were cash-register machines. George modernized our office. George helped develop one of the finest computer-imaging systems in the country to process our taxes. George helped us become the model of the nation."

"He took good care of his employees. His door was always open to them," said his son, Gregory E. Spriggs of Annapolis. "He was concerned about their well-being. He kept a box of tissues on his desk in case things got emotional."

The Federation of Tax Administrators awarded him its National Leadership and Service Award in 1996.

Mr. Spriggs was a member of the Maryland Society of Accountants and the Annapolis Elks Lodge 622.

In retirement, he was a volunteer worker for Meals on Wheels of Anne Arundel County. He also helped prepare income tax forms for the elderly and served on the finance board of St. Anne's Day School.

Services will be held at 10:30 today at Calvary United Methodist Church, 301 Rowe Blvd., where he was a member.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Janice E. Evans; a brother, John L. Spriggs of Camp Hill, Pa.; a sister, Olive V. Whitelock of Seaford, Del.; and a granddaughter.

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