Monday, November 2, 2009

Posey v. Comptroller (Maryland Tax Ct.)

Filed: October 29, 2009
Opinion by Chief Judge Walter C. Martz, II

Held: A physician severed his domicile in Maryland for tax purposes when he closed his professional practice in Maryland and manifested a subjective intent to be domiciled elsewhere.

Analysis: The Comptroller attempted to assess taxes against the plaintiff as if he were domiciled in Maryland. The plaintiff disputed the assessment, claiming he had severed his domicile in Maryland and established a domicile in Maine.

The court applied the two-pronged test for determining a change in domicile articulated in Shenton v. Abbot, 178 Md. 526 (1940):
  1. It must be shown that a new residence was acquired with the intent of remaining there;
  2. The abandonment of the old domicile must be so permanent as to exclude the existence of an intent to return.
To make a decision, the court examined the circumstantial evidence particular to the case. The court found several things material: the plaintiff acquired a new home in Maine, it was designed to be permanent, he signed a two year contract with a practice group in Maine, and he closed his Maryland practice and referred its patients to other doctors.

On that basis, the court concluded that the plaintiff clearly intended to abandon his domicile in Maryland. Accordingly, the Comptroller's assessments were reversed.

The full opinion is available in PDF.

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