Local Attorney Discusses Garage Sales & The Law

Local Attorney Discusses Garage Sales & The Law

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Many people hold garage or yard sales this time of year, but did you know you have to follow certain rules and laws? Local attorney Marcy Robinson Dembs, a partner with Barclay Damon, appeared on 7 News at Noon on Monday to discuss them.

She said you, as a homeowner, have a duty to keep customers safe. You must use reasonable care based on the foreseeability of the presence of a person coming onto your land. So if you advertise for a sale, the patron’s presence is “foreseeable” and you must take “reasonable measures to maintain safe conditions taking into account the likelihood of an injury, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding it.”

For example, if you know you have an exposed wire in your garage, you must get it fixed before the sale because the presence of persons in the garage is foreseeable,  it costs little to nothing to correct the danger, and the possibility of a serious injury is great.

She also said generally, it is the seller’s responsibility to compute, collect and pay sales tax into the government. Sales tax in Jefferson County is 8%.

If the following facts apply, the seller does not have to pay sales tax:

- The sale is at your home

- Neither you nor a member of your household is in the business of selling garage sale items

- Your sales lasts no more than 3 days (in any one calendar year)

- You do not expect to or actually sell more than $600. worth of goods. (If you do, you must pay a sales tax, but the first $600 is exempt.)

Dembs also said sellers must check the website of the municipality where they live to see what local rules govern garage sales. For instance, in the city of Watertown, you do not need a permit to have a garage sale, but you may not have more than two sales in any calendar year.

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