latest articles from our blog

A Primer on Maryland Courts

Maryland Court SystemDo you know why Maryland has an “Orphans’ Court,” or which court hears landlord-tenant cases? You can find the answers to those questions, and others, in this primer we’ve written about Maryland courts. The Maryland Judicial System Maryland has four court levels: two trial courts (District Court and Circuit Courts) and two appellate courts (Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals). The Orphans’ Court handle wills, estates, and other probate matters. The Maryland Tax Court is not part of the judicial system but hears administrative appeals from the final decisions of Maryland or local tax authorities. Here’s some basic information about Maryland courts: District Court The District Court of Maryland hears both civil cases (including claims up to $30,000, domestic violence cases, and landlord-tenant disputes) and criminal cases (motor vehicle violations, and other misdemeanors and limited felonies). For civil claims of $5,000 to $30,000, District Courts share jurisdiction with…

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 26

Maryland Small Business LawyerAmerican Express rolled out Small Business Saturday in November 2010, in an effort to get more people to shop at small, locally owned businesses. With each passing year, the event has drawn more shoppers to local businesses, and in 2015, 95 million people patronized small businesses on Small Business Saturday. This year, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 26. If you own a small business and haven’t started gearing up for this event, now’s the time to do so. Promote Your Business You don’t have to register to participate in Small Business Saturday, but if you do register through the American Express website, shoppers may be able to more easily find your business. When you register, you also get access to online templates for designing promotional materials, so you can create your own signage for free and download the files to print. Give customers a reason to shop at your business…

Transferring Real Estate: Deed Overview

Maryland Deed LawyerIn Maryland, the sale or transfer of property includes the creation of a deed, which is a legal document that defines each party’s rights and responsibilities. Deeds establish a binding agreement, but occasionally new information is discovered after the transfer or sale of property that may compromise the owner’s rights to the property. While it’s possible in many jurisdictions to file your own legal documents, the best way to protect yourself in a real estate transaction is to have a lawyer prepare your deeds. Maryland requires that a deed be prepared by a Maryland attorney to be accepted for recordation in the Maryland Land Records. Types of Deeds Three types of deeds apply to real estate transactions in Maryland: General Warranty Deed – This is a deed that sellers provide the buyer that guarantees the property is free of any liens or any other legal claims in its entire history.…

Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Maryland Tax AttorneyDecember is just around the corner, so if you pay your taxes based on the calendar year, now’s the time to take a look at your income and expenses. Depending on your 2016 profits and your earnings projections for next year, you may want to make some adjustments before year-end. Cash vs. Accrual Accounting The type of accounting method you use may dictate your end-of-year tax strategy. Businesses use either cash or accrual accounting. With cash accounting, your income and expenses are not counted until actually paid. So, if you send someone an invoice in December and they don’t pay it until January, you wouldn’t claim that income on your 2016 tax return. Accrual accounting records transactions immediately – that December invoice would be considered part of your 2016 income, even before you receive payment. If you use accrual accounting and want to reduce your taxable income for 2016, you…

What to Do if Your Business is Behind on Payroll Taxes

Maryland Business Lawyer Audit LawyerAn entrepreneur wrote an article for CBS Money Watch in which he described the year he almost lost everything. At the time, clients had fallen behind on paying him, and to make up for the cash shortfall, he stopped paying payroll taxes. His payroll tax liability grew to $20,000, plus interest and penalties, before the Internal Revenue Service seized $5,000 from his bank account, which in turn caused him to be overdrawn. Small businesses that fall behind on payroll taxes may be jeopardizing their livelihood, as well as their personal property. At the outset, it is important to understand that payroll taxes include employee contributions for social security and Medicare taxes, and employee federal and state income tax withholdings. The employer collects employee contributions in a fiduciary capacity and the government is much less forgiving for a business failing to properly handle employee trust funds than for a business that…

Welcome to Our New Website

Maryland Business AttorneysThis is an exciting day for Thienel & Lusk, LLC. After more than a year of development, planning, and content creation, we’re pleased to reveal our new website! With the help of Gladiator Law Marketing, we’ve redesigned our website for easy navigation. And based on guidance from Gladiator’s team – Lisa Vaughn, Nicole Longo, Adam Draper, and others – we’ve populated our blog with information that business owners and our individual clients need to know. We want to be more than just a law firm – we want to be a resource for individuals, solo entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses. We’ve written about topics that include starting a business, landlord-tenant law, estate planning, important regulatory changes, and more, and we plan to continue publishing blogs every week. Other Changes Last year, we began our monthly Client Spotlight feature, which highlights the background and accomplishments of a different client each…

Requirements for Claiming Hobby-Related Tax Deductions

Maryland Small Business LawyerAre you a collector and occasional seller of antiques, rare coins, or classic cars? If so, you may be able to claim hobby-related tax deductions – but only if specific conditions exist. The IRS considers a hobby to be any activity that’s not intended to make a profit, even if you do occasionally make money off it. In order to claim a tax deduction for hobby-related losses, a taxpayer must show that that the losses amounted to more than 2 percent of his or her annual adjusted gross income. But a taxpayer may deduct only those hobby-related losses that are less than or equal to one’s profits from that hobby – if no profit was earned, no deductions can be claimed. Tax laws differentiating hobby-loss deductions and business-related deductions are intended to prevent fraud. For example, businesses generally are entitled to deduct all expenses from their income, so a hobbyist…

Lien Priority and Perfection

Maryland Creditor LawyerWhen a debtor defaults on a loan or fails to meet terms of a payment arrangement, a creditor can pursue a court judgment against the debtor. After the court rules in favor of the creditor, the creditor may attempt to collect the debt in three ways: Garnishing the defendant’s wages Garnishing the defendant’s bank account Seizing personal property/real estate. Of those three methods, seizing personal property is the most complicated, but when a debt is too large to be satisfied through other means, it may be the only viable option for the creditor to recoup its losses. To seize personal property, creditors must file a lien – and they may not be the only ones trying to collect an unpaid debt. About Lien Hierarchy In Maryland, the primary mortgage lender for a property has a perfected lien – meaning, its interest in the property trumps all other liens and collection…

How to Legally Screen Tenants

Maryland Rental LicenseLandlords want to find the best tenants for their rental properties, and that begins with a thorough application and screening process. You can ask numerous questions of applicants, but some questions are forbidden, under federal housing law. Read on for tips on how to legally screen rental applicants. Getting the Basics A rental application should ask for basic information that includes: Full name, including previous/maiden name Date of birth Social Security number Current address, previous two addresses, and contact information for current and former landlords Driver’s license number and vehicle information Employment information and employer contact information Income. Including additional questions can help you weed out potential problem tenants. You may legally ask for bank account numbers, whether an applicant has ever been convicted of a felony, and whether the applicant has ever been evicted. You can also ask for a personal reference. Include language before the signature line that…

A Cut Above, Inc.

At Thienel & Lusk, LLC, we know that our success depends on our ability to provide the best representation for our clients, both with the day-to-day legal issues and with litigation, when necessary. We value our relationships with our clients, and to show our appreciation we developed Client Spotlight e-blasts. The Client Spotlight is a monthly feature about our long-standing clients. For this month’s entry, the Spotlight is on A Cut Above, Inc., a Maryland custom cabinet and design firm.

custom-cabinetsA Cut Above teamed with Thienel & Lusk to address its varied legal needs, first approaching Steve Thienel regarding how best to create an employee incentive plan that would award employees with equity in the company. A Cut Above was originally organized as a limited liability company.  Employees of a limited liability company are restricted from becoming owners of the company, so we merged the LLC into a newly created corporation that could distribute ownership to its deserving employees. Thienel & Lusk continues to serve the spectrum of the needs of A Cut Above, including strategic business planning, drafting documents, and preparing tax returns. In the words of Chip Yawney, the owner of A Cut Above, “we include Thienel & Lusk among our most important partners and we place our confidence in their advice.”  Chip, following a successful career in sales and management positions at IBM, Status Computer, and Lucent…