September 24, 2012

Domestic Partner Inheritance Tax Exemption for Real Property

I found this great FAQ guide (opens as a .pdf) from the Howard County Register of Wills, Byron E. MacFarlane, titled Domestic Partner Inheritance Tax Exemption for Real Property. This guide is very useful for anyone couple who is neither married nor in a civil union but owns a primary residence in joint tenancy.

September 10, 2012

Online Sales Tax

 I am frequently asked by small business owners what their responsibility is as to collecting sales tax from purchases generated by their websites. An online presence is different from a bricks and mortar storefront, and business owners may suddenly find themselves fulfilling orders for customers located across the country.

The short answer to this question is that if your business has a physical presence in a state, then you must collect local and state sales tax for that location. Examples of physical presences are an actual store, office, or warehouse. If your business does not have a physical presence in a state, then you do not have to collect sales tax for that state.

This rule is based on Quill v. North Dakota, a Supreme Court case that said mail-order businesses cannot be required to collect sales tax in a state unless the business has a physical presence there, as the burden on the sellers to comply with all state and local tax jurisdictions is too complex to manage and would strain interstate commerce. 504 US 298 (1992).

That being said, tax laws change all the time. If you are a small business owner looking to establish an online storefront, you should consult with your state's revenue agency to determine if you do have what is considered a physical presence. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration is a great resource for answering questions about online payment services and sales.

September 7, 2012

Strict Liability for Pit Bulls - Part Two

On August 21, 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an Order relating to a Motion for Reconsideration (.pdf) filed in Tracey v. Solesky, the case decided earlier this year that held that strict liability exists for the owners of pit bulls and 'cross-bred pit bulls' and their landlords. Subsequently, Tracey filed a Motion for Reconsideration asking the Court to review their decision with regards to the inclusion of cross-bred pit bulls. The Court's order amends the earlier Opinion by deleting any reference to cross-breds, pit bull mix, or cross-bred pit bull mix.

The Humane Society has set up a helpline for Maryland families at 1-855-633-6471 (1-855-MDDOGS1).  Additionally, they have included on their website an information sheet (.pdf) for landlords and property owners. 

September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Our office will be closed Monday, September 3, 2012. We will reopen during normal business hours on Tuesday, September 4, 2012. We wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day!