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Maryland Business Owners: Don’t Forget to File Your MD Personal Property Tax Returns

file your personal property taxesOne of the challenges of owning and operating a small business is making sure that you stay on top of all the filing deadlines required to keep everything in good standing with the state where you registered your company. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the legal authority to operate your business, and it will require time and money to make things right. In the Old Line State, one deadline that business owners need to pay attention to is the deadline for filing Maryland personal property tax returns. Here's what you need to know. The Good News: A Streamlined Assessment Process Other states have multiple local jurisdictions that handle the administration of personal property. But in Maryland, one single agency, the State Department of Assessments & Taxation (SDAT), handles everything other than real estate property, including office furniture, machinery and equipment, tools, inventory, and supplies. This is an advantage to…

Understanding a Tenant’s Right of First Refusal

Tenant's right to first refusalThe concept behind the right of first refusal is fairly straightforward: Contractually, it’s a right granted to Entity A to enter into a business transaction with Entity B before anybody else is able to. If Entity A decides not to take part in the transaction, Entity B is then free to negotiate with other potential buyers. Often, this concept appears in real estate transactions, where the seller grants a certain party the right to purchase a property before anybody else can. Many leases executed between tenants and landlords contain a right of first refusal clause. In Baltimore City, however, a tenant’s right of first refusal is on the legal books, established in Subtitle 6 of Article 13 of the Baltimore City Code. What does the law say? The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) maintains that “before title to any single-family residential rental property is voluntarily transferred, the tenant of…

Title or Deed: Which One Do You Need?

Real estate attorneyYou’ve been working for months on that complex real estate transaction, and it’s finally coming together. Just a little paperwork left to be completed, and you’ll be ready to receive the deed. Or wait—is it the title? Most of the public uses the two terms interchangeably, and in the public mind both words represent the same general concept: proof of ownership of a property. But in legal terms, “deed” and “title” have quite different meanings; and if you have any hope of making sense out of a real estate deal, you need to understand the distinction. Titles vs. Deeds When you own a property completely, it’s true that you will possess both the title and the deed. But there’s only one of those things that you can file away in a file cabinet. "A deed is a legal document used to confirm or convey the ownership rights to a property,"…

Why Is a Business Succession Plan So Important?

Business Succession planning attorneysFor many entrepreneurs, the present day is challenging enough. Starting and managing the day-to-day affairs of a business is a massive effort that can leave even the cleverest owners with little energy left to think about tomorrow. But every small business, sooner or later, will face the reality that its leader won’t be around forever. Planning for what happens after a founder moves on can mean the difference between success or failure for the business. The Second Generation—and Beyond The statistics are inarguable: Family businesses are an enormous part of the American economic landscape. Research has shown that family businesses account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation. But research has also shown that less than one-third of family businesses survive the transition from first- to second-generation ownership. Another 50 percent don’t survive the transition from…

How the Shutdown Impacted Small Businesses

Impact of the Government ShutdownAlthough Congress and the President appear to have reached an agreement to fund the government for a brief period while they work on other issues, a great deal of damage has already been inflicted. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees went without pay or without work for over a month, and many key agencies slowed or stopped their activities altogether. The ripple effects of the shutdown spread throughout the economy in ways both large and small. One key group impacted by the shutdown is small businesses which rely on smooth government operations so they can continue to run. Here are some of the ways the shutdown impacted these companies: Support Businesses: Small businesses often spring up in areas where large numbers of federal workers will utilize their services, especially in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington, DC, areas. Everything from diners/restaurants and coffee shops to office supply stores and delivery services lost…

How a Proposed Bill in Baltimore Would Impact Landlords, Renters

Where you live can make a big difference in how you and your children get on in the world. Better neighborhoods don't just have less crime and less environmental pollution. They also afford their residents access to higher performing schools, better quality stores, and higher-quality apartment amenities. This can mean more long-term opportunities for your children and a significant reduction in stress, which can lead to a healthy and longer life. That's why the city of Baltimore's Council Bill 18-0308, which Councilmember Ryan Dorsey introduced in December, 2018, is so important. This legislation proposes to end housing discrimination based solely on source of income. While prospective tenants can still be refused housing based on other factors, like rental history or criminal background, they cannot be rejected because their income falls below a certain threshold without government subsidy. Which Tenants Are Most Affected by Council Bill 18-0308? The bill could potentially affect…

What is the Impact of Low Unemployment on Small Business Owners?

Low unemployment numbers are great for the economy, but not always for small business owners. In late 2018, unemployment numbers in the United States dropped to 3.7 percent. According to a report from NPR, this was the lowest point in nearly 50 years. This means more Americans are working abd putting more money into the local economies. This is beneficial to business owners, because more money in the local economy means customers and clients have more to spend with businesses. But for small business owners considering making a hire, this lower unemployment number also means that the pool of available employees is shrinking. Here is what today’s business owners need to understand about the mixed blessing of low unemployment. Many Small Businesses Concerned About Filling Available Positions A strong economy means growth for small businesses, and with growth comes a need to hire additional employees. In a recent survey, 29 percent of…

A New Year, a New Business Plan?

Maryland Busniess Planning AttorneyNew Year's is a time for personal reflection, for recommitting to old goals and making resolutions. But what about your business? Like you, it probably could use some fine-tuning. The first of the year is the perfect time to make a new business plan, one that sets new objectives and determines the goals most needed to move the company forward. Scheduling some time at the beginning of this year to create a new business plan will give you renewed faith in your enterprise and the motivation to implement some much-needed changes. Plan for the New Five (or Ten...or 15) Years The way people do business is changing all the time. That's why making a five-year plan is so important. The plan lets you ... take stock of where the business is right now develop a clear break-down of your goals and the steps needed to attain each goal consider how…

New Insight for Women Entrepreneurs

New Insight for Women EntrepreneursIf you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses, women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, SCORE notes, that number is rising. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned businesses rose 45 percent—five times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SCORE recently released the results of a wide-ranging survey of more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs. The report, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” contains several key insights on the unique opportunities and challenges these business owners face. Why did these women start their businesses? They reported many different motivations, such as open opportunities, family considerations, job changes, and financial necessity. One interesting detail is how the reasons differed for each age demographic. Most of the women surveyed under age…

Landlords: Winter Is Coming

Landlords: Winter Is ComingWith snow, wind, and freezing temperatures, winter can be especially hard on houses and apartments. Before the chilly weather hits, it’s time to prepare your rental properties for the season. Here are some items that should be on every landlord’s winter checklist. Roofs Check all of your properties’ roofs for signs of damage, such as cracks, missing shingles, or loose flashing around chimneys. Pay close attention to high-wear areas. Windows and Doors Take a look at the caulking and weather-stripping surrounding doors and windows. Re-caulk any deteriorating caulk and consider adding door sweeps under entrance doors. Make sure all of the windows close properly on the top and the bottom. If there’s any cracked glass, replace it. If you have storm windows, now’s the time to install them. Walls Check the walls for cracks and openings, particularly ones big enough that animals can crawl inside. In cold weather, mice and…