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Some taxpayers celebrating; CareFirst subscribers blue

For some 55,000 Maryland taxpayers, it was a very good week. For some 1.1 million CareFirst health insurance subscribers, definitely not.

The U.S. Supreme Court  Monday struck down Maryland’s law barring taxpayers from deducting from their local taxes any taxes they paid to other states on money earned there. It was a closely divided court, but the 5-4 decision went taxpayers way. The state comptroller’s office estimated the ruling would affect 55,000 taxpayers; some 8,000 protective claims already had been submitted by savvy taxpayers and their accountants in the hopes that the court would see things their way.

“For our clients, it’s going to be a large amount of refunds over the past seven or more years,” said Tom Byers, director of tax at Ellin & Tucker’s Baltimore office.

(As is always the case, where there are winners there are also losers. Maryland counties can kiss this revenue goodbye, and they’ll be puckering up to the tune of about $200 million worth of refunds, according to the Maryland Association of Counties.)

The winner in the worst week designation comes in the all-too-familiar category of a data breach. It was CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s turn Wednesday to alert the public and its customers that hackers had weaseled their way into one of the insurer’s databases roughly a year ago.

While CareFirst officials said the worst case scenario — access to Social Security numbers — did not appear to have occurred, the cyber trespassers did gain access to birth dates, subscriber identification data and some other information.

The company offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to anyone affected.

CareFirst now joins the honor roll of companies and institutions — Target, Home Depot, the University of Maryland, Sony, the Pentagon, NASA — who have had their databases or emails hacked.