Maryland’s House of Cards may crumble under (state) taxes

House of Cards, Season 2, premiered February 14, 2014 with tremendous anticipation on the East Coast because it was filmed in and around Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C. It flooded the area with a fervor of Greed, Politics and Intrigue that hasn’t been seen around here since Bob Woodward was a police beat reporter. But….

Before the lights have quit flickering on the high definition video monitors from the all-night binge watching that many, including me, did, producers of the show have said they may move Season 3 out of Maryland unless the state ups the ante with more tax breaks. Tim Prudente, of the Annapolis Capital, has written about the release and the financials in the link below.

There’s a lot at stake in this poker game, both for the people making the series, the people working in or on the series and the State of Maryland. The Maryland Chamber is saying that the Maryland Film Industry has 5,000 jobs that are currently in-state and at risk if concessions aren’t negotiated. But money is money and the State House and Senate will need to see that this somehow hasn’t become a zero-sum game. So it won’t be solved with a wave of a sorcerer’s wand.

There is just something absolutely delicious thinking about Frank Underwood negotiating this, however. You can just see him there thinking about Democracy being so overrated and about to knock on the desk with his ring when the deal’s done. I, for one, am hoping they’ll get one. Because if Maryland won’t, someone else will.

Until then, good luck and good hunting.



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The Fisher Law Office is known for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business development. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.

Find out how to reach Randy via or find him at, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at

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Plan your New Year’s resolutions while planning your holidays

The issue is how do you grow your business. There is an old adage–if you aren’t moving forward, you are falling behind. It doesn’t matter what race you are running in, growing your business is a necessity for your business’s survival and your economic well-being.

I spent a long night discussing this issue with two close friends. One is a prominent corporate attorney who is looking to expand his growing practice into estate planning and probate work. Another is a stalwart litigator looking to grow into corporate work. In reality, they both are making widgets and they face the same issues.

So what is the answer? How do you grow either your entire business or a segment of that business beyond the bare sustenance level?

All of these ways of growing your business have been successfully used by other businesses and, with some planning and investment, will work for you. Make them your New Year’s resolutions; practice them now and see how you came out a year from January.

1. Penetrate your existing market.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of growing your business is getting new customers. But the customers you already have are your best bet for increasing your sales; it’s easier and more cost-effective to get people who are already buying from you to buy more than to find new customers and persuade them to buy from you.

2. Ask for referrals.

Getting new customers is another approach to growing your business. One of the easiest way to do this is to ask your current customers for referrals. But notice the verb. Doing a great job and just assuming that your customers are passing the word about your business isn’t going to do much to increase your customer base; you have to actively seek referrals. During or after every job or sale, ask your satisfied customer if he knows anyone else who would be interested in your products or services.
Continue reading

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Legacy Lost: The Dwindling Family Inheritance

Ninety percent of family inheritance is often lost within just three generations, according to the Wall Street Journal (Lost Inheritance).  By the end of the second generation — to be clear, that’s after your children have passed away — you can expect 70% to be gone.

This bodes particularly ill for the massive wealth transfer of the baby boomers, who are set to inherit $7.6 trillion — equivalent to the GDP of China — over their lifetimes, mostly in their later years.

(Credit: Wall Street Journal)

Given how the bottom has fallen out of interest rates, the volatility on Wall Street in recent years, and the sluggish recovery of a real estate industry still trying to pick itself up off the mat, it seems there is no shortage of reasons for this generation to be concerned about its financial legacy.  And that’s just the economy.   Continue reading

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E-Commerce: “Physical Presence” Sales Tax Collection

You don’t have to look hard to find the advantages internet retailers enjoy over their brick-and-mortar counterparts — and I’m not just talking about the lack of a enraged landlord banging down the door for this month’s rent (not to mention last month’s).

Indeed, lower overheads in general is a key reason why the e-commerce business model can offer the consumer more choices and more convenience at lower prices than rivals with physical premises maintain. But lower taxes, too?

As a matter of fact, yes.

You see, notwithstanding the myriad legal challenges pending around the country, internet retailers are not required to collect sales tax from many of their customers. That savings translates to the modestly lower prices that 2 out of 3 online shoppers indicate as the reason they shop online.

The “Physical Presence” Rule

Pursuant to the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, mail-order businesses — now understood to include online businesses — are only required  to collect sales tax on internet sales to customers in those states where the business maintains a physical presence.

Basically, if your business pays rent, tax, or commission in a given state, then you’ll need to collect sales tax there as well. More specifically, in the eyes of the court a “physical presence” includes:  Continue reading

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New Maryland Slayer’s Law to Disinherit Murderers from Victim’s Estate

What sounds like the plot of a BBC murder mystery tragically became reality for the family of Ann Sue Metz in 2009, when her husband killed her and inherited her estate. Though he was convicted and sentenced for the crime, Metz’s husband still assumed ownership or her property — which he proceeded to sell off from his jail cell, leaving Metz’s children next to nothing by which to remember their mother.

To this day, Maryland is one of eight states without a Slayer’s Law – a statute preventing a murderer from financially benefitting from the death of their victim — but the Ann Sue Metz Law pending approval by the General Assembly would change this.

Family bids farewell to Ann Sue Metz.
(Photo Credit: Frederick News-Post)

Supported by 25 sponsors, House Bill 1211 was heard before the Maryland House of Delegates two weeks ago (Feb. 27), and its sister Senate Bill 0489 appeared before the Senate this week (Mar. 8).

The bill’s fiscal and policy note explains that the Slayer’s Law disqualifies anyone “who feloniously and intentionally kills, conspires to kill, or procures the killing of a decedent from benefitting from the death of the decedent.” The law would take effect on October 31, 2013.

The Slayer’s Rule, a common law tradition, has been used in the past by judges to determine similar cases (Cook v. Grierson, 380 Md. 502). However, codifying it into a statutory Slayer’s Law would clearly enumerate the law for those judges and potentially speed up the lengthy judicial challenge process.

Metz’s children had challenged their step-father’s right to inherit after the murder but delays in the courts allowed him time to liquidate their mother’s assets for himself. They hope that passage of the Slayer’s Law in their mother’s name will memorialize her legacy in lieu of the tangible heirlooms that were lost.

My friend, the Rev. Henry Green, would say it’s shameful this isn’t already a statute. I probably would agree with him. I’ll let you know when/if the bill passes, which I expect it will.

Until then, good luck and good hunting.



Related articles

The Fisher Law Office is known for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business development. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.

Find out how to reach Randy via or find him at, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at

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