Who Gets the Tax Surplus After a Tax Deed Sale? Association vs. Property Owner

pexels-photo-87223

By Dane E. Leitner

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Tax Reform Act that was passed by the Federal government and primarily deals with income tax.  However, there has also been recent activity with a different type of taxes, real property taxes.  In December of 2017 the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Florida issued an opinion in the case of Jenifer E. Calendar v. Stonebridge Gardens Section III Condominium Association that dealt with the distribution of surplus funds from a tax sale of an owner’s condominium unit.

Owners of real property have an obligation to pay their property taxes each year.  If they do not, the Tax Collector holds an auction for a tax certificate sale to pay off the delinquent taxes.  The successful bidder at the auction is issued a tax lien certificate.  This entitles the holder of the certificate a lien on the property and interest on the lien.  If the tax lien certificate and accrued interest is not paid off within two years, the holder of the certificate may force a public auction of the property.  This is called a tax deed sale.  At the tax deed sale, the winning bidder purchases the property.  The tax lien certificate holder is paid, and any remaining lienholders and the prior property owner may apply for any excess funds. Continue reading

Tax Reform Highlights

calculator-385506_1920

By Sasha A. Klein

The most significant change to the U.S. tax code in 30 years was approved by Congress and signed by the President just in time for Christmas 2017.  Many of the provisions became effective January 1, 2018, only a few days after being enacted.

SO, WHAT DOES IT CHANGE?

Corporate and Pass Through Entity Income TaxPermanent

Corporate Tax Rates are reduced from 35% to 21%.

Business Income from Pass Through Entities: provides for a 20% deduction for individuals and trust and estates on domestic qualified business income from pass-through entities.

  • Effectively reduces the top tax rate for those eligible to 29.6% (from 37%)
  • Wages paid to owners and certain income from specified services business (i.e. attorney and accounting firms) are excluded from the deduction.

Continue reading

Basics of an Effective Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

metoo-2859980_1920

By Sally Still

With sexual harassment so prevalent in the news lately, employers are rightly asking…what is sexual harassment and what do I need to do about it?  If you’re an employer, let’s walk through your obligations to protect your employees from harassment and address how you should respond should it arise in your workplace.

First, an employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior.  The way to do this is to have an effective anti-harassment policy, disseminate it to all employees, and swiftly conduct investigations into complaints of harassment when they arise.  Be clear that immediate and appropriate corrective action, including necessary discipline, will be taken whenever harassment has occurred in violation of the company’s anti-harassment policy.  Continue reading

Digital Asset Law Breaking News: Personal Representative May Be Given Access to Decedent’s Email

download

By Sasha A. Klein

On October 16, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled favorably on a Personal Representative’s access to a deceased user’s online accounts and digital property (Ajeman v. Yahoo). This is the first reported case with respect to access to digital assets by a fiduciary.

The conundrum: Email are part of a deceased user’s estate.  But a personal representative (aka executor) can’t read them without violating Federal privacy or anti-hacking law.  The Ajeman case is the first to permit access and will empower fiduciaries throughout the U.S.

10 Things You Need to Know

Continue reading

How to Protect Yourself with Seasonal Rentals

pexels-photo-412681

By Dane E. Leitner

Summer break has come to an end, and children have started school again.  In South Florida this means that “season” is right around the corner.  Season is the time of year when many snowbirds come down to avoid the cold winter, as well as many international folks who are involved in the equestrian community.  It is the perfect time when investors, and others who vacate their homes for a few months, provide housing for those coming down for season as they can usually obtain a good rental premium.

 

While seasonal renting can be lucrative for landlords, it is important that they are protected while doing so.  A well-written lease agreement that protects a landlord is a must.  A useful tip for landlords with seasonal rentals, as well as yearly rentals, is to try to obtain the entire rental amount up front or as much as possible.  Besides the obvious benefit of collecting the money at the beginning and not wondering if the tenant will make the next payment or not, there is another benefit as well.  Should the lease need to be terminated, say because the tenants throw an unruly party, if the lease is properly terminated by the landlord, the landlord could be entitled to keep the remaining amount of money that was paid for advanced rent. Continue reading