5Pointz

The building once known as 5Pointz was a block-long warehouse structure in Queens, NY. During the ‘90s, the area was rundown and crime-riddled. As a way to discourage vandalism to the building, the owner allowed graffiti artists to paint on the walls, giving them a canvas to display their works. Ultimately, the 5Pointz building became well known among graffiti artists and tourists and artists traveling from all around the world to add their art to the structure. For almost 20 years the developer and the artists existed this way. However, wanting to take advantage of rising real estate prices, in 2010 the owner of the building decided to redevelop it as a residential complex. The owner ultimately obtained permits to demolish the buildings and redevelop the parcel.

The Litigation

Continue Reading Landowners and Artists: Be Careful Before You Remove Street Art

Congratulations! You were awarded a judgment against the defendant in your lawsuit, all appeals are exhausted, and the judgment is now final. In theory, once the judgment is final, the defendant pays the judgment and the matter is resolved. This, however, rarely happens and additional steps are needed in order to obtain the monies owed.

Bank Garnishment in Florida

One way to collect the judgment is through garnishing the debtor’s bank account by the issuance and service of a “Writ of Garnishment.” The Writ allows a bank to freeze the debtor’s assets in its control and creates a lien upon the debt or property garnished at the time of service of the Writ. Below are the steps needed to take under Florida Statutes:

  • Provide the location and name of the debtor’s bank;
  • File a Motion for Garnishment and Writ of Garnishment Order with the Clerk of Court; and,
  • Once the Order is issued, serve the Writ of Garnishment on the debtor’s bank (the “garnishee”) by a process server.

The garnishee must then file an answer within twenty (20) calendar days of being served, stating what sum and what tangible or intangible personal property of the debtor it has or had in its possession or control at the time of filing the answer. Failure to file an answer may entitle the creditor to judgment against the garnishee.

Notice to Judgment Debtor

Continue Reading How Can I Collect a Judgment?

Guest post by: Richard Akin, Esquire

Whether you are a realtor, a contractor, a health care professional or a licensed professional of any kind, maintaining your professional license is vital to your livelihood. While each type of license has different requirements for initial licensure and continuing education, certain types of conduct will inevitably subject your license to discipline no matter your professional field.

You likely know the big/obvious violations to avoid, but often times it’s the smaller violations that can cause problems for the average professional. Continue Reading Five Ways to Endanger Your Professional License

As the laws change, we strive to share how they will affect our clients and readers of this blog. Thus, we are pleased to share the following guest post by Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trust and Estate Planning Attorney Eric Gurgold.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does not repeal the Federal estate tax. Instead, the Act doubles the amount of wealth that is exempt from the estate tax. In 2018, the new estate tax exemption will be $11,200,000 per individual. A married couple may be able to shield $22,400,000 from Federal estate taxes. The exemption is indexed to increase each year with inflation. However, the changes to the exemption will sunset and revert to today’s numbers after 2025.

Given the high estate tax exemptions, it is possible that not enough estate taxes will be paid to justify retaining the Federal estate tax; and Congress may repeal it.

Would Repeal of the Estate Tax be Good for Your Bottom Line?

Continue Reading The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Does Not Repeal the Federal Estate Tax!

Guest post by Beth T. Vogelsang, Esquire, Florida Bar Board Certified Divorce, Marital and Family Law Attorney

President Trump is expected to sign a sweeping tax overhaul into law this week. The final draft of the proposed tax bill was released by Congressional Republicans on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.  One important provision of the tax reform that divorce lawyers and certified divorce financial analysts have been carefully monitoring is the proposed repeal of the alimony deduction.

Under the current tax code, amounts paid to a spouse or a former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument (including a divorce decree, a separate maintenance decree, or a written separation agreement) may be alimony for federal tax purposes. Alimony is deductible by the payor spouse, and the recipient spouse must include it as income. The latest bill eliminates the tax deduction for payment of alimony.

The repeal of the alimony deduction applies to any divorce or separation instrument executed after December 31, 2018. The House bill would have eliminated these alimony deductions a year earlier, starting in 2018. This gives some breathing room to try to get pending cases finalized, but spouses going through a divorce case involving alimony claims must conclude their cases before the end of 2018 to take advantage of the current tax law. While this may seem like a windfall for recipients of alimony going forward, eliminating the deduction will result in lower alimony awards and it will decrease the cash flow available. This is because alimony payors are generally in a higher tax bracket than recipients; so the amount of the tax savings to payors deducting alimony payments above-the-line is higher than the tax liability of the recipient.

Although divorces concluded prior to the effective date are grandfathered in, and the repeal will not affect those already paying alimony, the new legislation may be applied to divorce decrees which are modified after December 31, 2018 even if the original decree was entered before December 31, 2018, if the modification agreement or order expressly states that the new rule applies. This appears to leaves it in a court’s discretion whether to make future modifications of alimony non-taxable and non-deductible. The landscape is plainly changing when it comes to alimony, with the result that there will be less money in the pot to divvy up.

About the Author

Beth T. Vogelsang handles family law matters in a confidential, compassionate and professional manner. She represents clients in complex divorces, including matters involving international and interstate child custody disputes, intricate business valuations, and identification and tracing of marital assets and income. She also drafts and litigates matters involving prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Beth has been Board Certified in Marital and Family Law since 1992.

Beth has received much recognition for her work in the divorce and family law field. She has been included in Florida Super Lawyers magazine (2012-2017) and named one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in the State in 2014 and 2015. Beth has also been included in Best Lawyers in America (2013-2017) and was named the “Fort Myers Family Law Lawyer of the Year” in 2015 and 2017.  She is also AV rated by Martindale Hubbell.

 

There is a change in the federal partnership audit rules that take effect for tax years on or after January 1, 2018, that may impact you.

Who is Affected?

All entities classified as partnerships for federal tax purposes. This includes, for example, multi-member LLC’s that have not elected to be taxed as corporations (C or S). If the entity files IRS Form 1065, it is a partnership. Certain partnerships may opt out of the new audit rules, but they must meet the eligibility requirements, including identity and number of partners (no more than 100 partners, all must be individuals, estates, C corporations and S corporations).

The Changes

The new law and regulations proposed by the IRS will replace the current audit regime. The details of the changes to the audit regime are beyond the scope of this letter, but in general, under the new partnership audit rules, any adjustments to tax items for a partnership are generally determined, and the tax attributable to such adjustments is assessed and collected, at the partnership level, with the tax assessed at the highest tax rate then in effect. The adjustments relate to a prior year (the “reviewed year”), but the assessment and collection of the tax will affect the partners in the year of the assessment (the “adjustment year”). The partnership may be able to elect to “push out” the adjustments to the partners who were partners in the reviewed year, rather than assessing it at the partnership level.

In addition, the partnership is now required to designate a “partnership representative” on an annual basis. This designation replaces the appointment of a “tax matters partner” under the prior regime. Comparing the two, the requirements for who may serve as a partnership representative are broader (e.g., not required to be a partner) and the partnership representative has significantly more authority in dealing with the IRS on behalf of the partnership (i.e., sole authority to act and the other partners have no right to receive notice from the IRS or participate in the audit).

What Does This Mean For You?

All partnership agreements (or operating agreements, in the case of an LLC taxed as a partnership) should be reviewed and amended to adopt appropriate changes to reflect the application of the new IRS rules effective January 1, 2018. The nature of these amendments will differ among partnerships/companies depending on the specific situation. Changes may include:

  • appointing the partnership representative, with a mechanism for appointing replacements and any contractual limitations on his authority;
  • ensuring the partnership is eligible to opt out of the rules by restricting who can be a partner;
  • providing for a method of allocating the adjustments in the event of changes in partners between the reviewed year and the adjustment year; and/or
  • providing for an election to “push out” the adjustments to the reviewed year partners.

Please feel free to reach out to any of our tax attorneys to update your partnership’s and/or company’s agreements to remian compliant with these federal tax law changes:

 

Guest post by Beth T. Vogelsang, Esquire, Florida Bar Board Certified Divorce, Marital and Family Law Attorney

On November 2, 2017, House Republicans released an income tax reform bill known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” There has been much publicity about the bill’s proposed corporate tax cuts and the purported reduction and simplification of individual income tax rates. One provision of the 492-page bill, which has gone largely unnoticed, is the proposed repeal of the deductibility of alimony payments.

Current IRS Regulations on Alimony

Continue Reading Will Tax Reform Eradicate the Alimony Tax Deduction?

As the year-end approaches, you may want to consider steps to reduce your federal income tax bill, especially as Congress weighs tax reform. The current proposals would reduce income tax rates for most businesses and individuals, and increase the available business deductions. Whether or not the proposed tax reforms become law, the following tax tips should help you save on federal income taxes.

Tips for Business Owners: Expensing and Depreciation

Continue Reading Tax Planning and Proposed Tax Reform

In order to help the Southwest Florida community recover from Hurricane Irma, the following is a non-exhaustive list of resources:

Tax

FEMA

Interest Free Loans

Payroll

Construction

United Way

  • United Way 2-1-1 is a United Way program that provides free information and referral to human/social service agencies within Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. Clients can call and receive information and referrals appropriate to their needs, https://www.unitedwaylee.org/what-is-united-way-211/.

We will continue to update the list as they become available.

As our area recovers in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, one less thing we need to worry about in the immediate future are certain tax matters. The IRS has issued relief to taxpayers in Presidential Disaster Areas, which includes Lee, Charlotte, and Collier Counties. Among the relief granted, for affected individuals and businesses there is an extension to January 31, 2018 to file returns and pay taxes originally due during the period starting September 4, 2017.  So, if you were on extension to file your income tax return for your business (generally due September 15, 2017) or individually (due October 15, 2017), you now have until January 31, 2018 to file that return.

Keep in mind, this relief does not extend the time to pay income taxes for 2016, which were due on April 15, 2017 (even if your return was on extension).

The IRS continues to provide updates on areas covered and the relief granted. More information can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/help-for-victims-of-hurricane-irma.

Tax photo courtesy of 401(K) 2012 under Flickr Creative Commons License