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On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”) as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. Congress passed this as an attempt to better enable critical national security, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts to counter money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and other illicit activity.

The CTA requires a range of entities to file a report with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) identifying the entities’ beneficial owners – the persons who ultimately own or control the company – and provide similar identifying information about the persons who formed the entity. The reporting rule goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

Who is Required to Report?

Any entity that is a corporation, a limited liability company (“LLC”), or any entity created by filing with a Secretary of State or any similar office under the law of a State or Indian tribe will be required to comply with the CTA. In addition, any corporation, LLC, or other entity that is formed under the laws of a foreign country and is registered to do business in any State or tribal jurisdiction is also subject to the CTA.

Accordingly, the rule requires the following types of entities to file reports unless it falls within an exemption (each, a “Reporting Company”):

  • U.S. corporations;
  • U.S. LLCs;
  • Other similar U.S. entities, such as limited partnerships and business trusts/statutory trusts; and
  • Non-U.S. corporations, LLCs and other similar entities that are registered to do business in the United States.

Are There Any Exemptions?

Continue Reading What Business Owners Need to Know About the Corporate Transparency Act
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Mastering the Requirements of Florida’s Boating Safety Act

Embarking on a boating adventure along the picturesque waters of Florida’s coastline is a dream come true for many. However, the recent enactment of Senate Bill 606, known as the “Boating Safety Act of 2022,” has brought about significant changes for bareboat charter companies operating in the state.

One crucial aspect of this legislation revolves around insurance requirements, mandating that these companies obtain and carry policies that protect both their operations and the renters. This post will provide some guidance for bareboat charter companies as they navigate the waters of compliance in Florida’s boating industry.

Definition of “Livery”

A “livery” is a person or entity that offers a vessel for use by another in exchange for any form of consideration without providing a captain, crew, or any operational staff. Consequently, bareboat charters fall under this definition since the renters or lessees typically hire their own crew or operate the vessel themselves.

The term “Bareboat” is not defined or used in Florida Statutes, a person (i.e., owner, agent, firm, broker) is not a livery if the renter is provided a specific captain and crew at the time of rental/lease contractual agreement. Regardless of whether there are multiple individuals to choose from on the contractual agreement, if it’s actually a crew-provided rental, this is not a livery as you are conducting passenger-for-hire operations which is exempted from livery regulations.

When a renter or lessee hires their own captain and crew or operates the vessel themselves, as in a valid bareboat charter, the owner, agent firm, etc., is a livery and must comply with livery regulations. This would include if the owner, agent, firm etc., provides a list for referral of master and crew as required by bareboat charter requirements, to which the renter can choose from the list or hire their own credentialed master and crew. Plainly put, bareboat charters are considered a livery by the State of Florida definition.

Requirements for Livery

Continue Reading Smooth Sailing Ahead: Mastering the Requirements of Florida’s Boating Safety Act
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Boating is a popular pastime in Florida, with its beautiful coastlines and numerous waterways. However, with the enjoyment of boating comes the responsibility of ensuring the safety of all passengers and others on the water. As a maritime lawyer, I have seen the devastating consequences of boating accidents firsthand.

National Safe Boating Week

Boater Safety Week, also known as National Safe Boating Week, is an annual event held in the United States to promote safe boating practices and raise awareness about boating safety. The event is typically observed during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial start of the boating season in many parts of the country.

The origins of Boater Safety Week can be traced back to the early 1950s when the Coast Guard began promoting boating safety through public education campaigns. In 1952, the Coast Guard launched a “Safe Boating Week” program to educate boaters about the importance of safety equipment, navigation rules, and safe boating practices. The program was later expanded to include partnerships with state agencies, boating organizations, and other stakeholders to promote boating safety at the national level.

In 1998, the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) was established as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe boating practices and reducing boating accidents and fatalities. The NSBC works closely with the Coast Guard and other partners to develop and promote boating safety initiatives, including Boater Safety Week.

Today, Boater Safety Week is observed in all 50 states and is recognized by boating organizations, government agencies, and other stakeholders as an important opportunity to raise awareness about boating safety and promote safe boating practices. Through public education campaigns, safety demonstrations, and other events, Boater Safety Week helps to ensure that boaters have the knowledge, skills, and equipment they need to enjoy their time on the water safely.

Therefore, in honor of National Safe Boating Week, below are the top five safety issues that Florida boaters need to be aware of to prevent accidents and injuries.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Continue Reading Stay Afloat: Top 5 Safety Issues Florida Boaters Need to Know
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March Madness, the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, is a significant event for basketball fans worldwide. But it’s also a time of year when employers may face some challenges in terms of employment law. Productivity can take a hit with millions of employees tuning into the games. Employees may request time off or engage in other behaviors that can pose legal risks for employers.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some employment law issues employers may face during March Madness and ways to handle them legally.

Continue Reading March Madness Mayhem: Navigating Employment Law Issues in the Workplace
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Deadline Extensions

Last fall, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 22-242 on October 20, 2022, extending ad valorem property tax filing deadlines for Floridians affected by Hurricane Ian and called for a special session to address further relief. The special session concluded toward the end of the December and Governor DeSantis signed Senate Bill 4-A, which codified the extended deadlines in section 197.3182 of the Florida Statutes. The deadlines are exactly the same as the ones in the Executive Order; the details about those deadlines may be found here.

This was not all the Governor was able to offer Hurricane Ian victims, that same bill provided for ad valorem property tax refunds and how to qualify.

Property Tax Refunds

Continue Reading Ad Valorem Property Tax Refunds Available for Those Affected by Hurricane Ian
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tax cut The short answer is “yes.” On October 18, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued Revenue Procedure 2022-38 (the “Procedure”). This Procedure adjusted certain dollar amounts related to tax items due to inflation. What you may not know is that certain dollar amounts contained in the tax code are subject to inflation. This means the IRS will adjust these items on a yearly basis to take into account inflation.

As we all know, inflation has hit an all-time high this year, and costs continue to rise with no end in sight. However, one piece of good news is that the Procedure adjusts the individual tax brackets and many more items for the 2023 tax year to take into account this inflation. This means there is a possibility that you may see a slightly larger refund or slightly less amount due when you file your 2023 tax return.

The Standard Deduction

The standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly increased to $27,000, which is up $1,800 from the previous year.

For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction increased to $13,850, which is up $900.00.

For head of households, the standard deduction will be $20,800, which is up $1,400 from last year.

The Individual Tax Brackets

Continue Reading Did inflation just save me money on my taxes?

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IRSAs you may recall from our previous post, Hurricane Ian extended certain due dates with respect to tax returns for those affected. There is also relief for certain taxpayers who have an ongoing Section 1031 Exchange. Under the Revenue Procedure 2018-58 (“Rev. Proc. 2018-58”), two sections grant relief to taxpayers involved in a Section 1031 Exchange and who are Affected Taxpayers.

Section 6 Relief

Section 6 of Rev. Proc. 2018-58 (“Section 6 Relief”) states that if a taxpayer has a deadline (the 45-day or 180-day deadline) that falls between the Relief Period prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”), the taxpayer may extend that deadline date to the end of the Relief Period.

Calculating the Relief Period

Let’s unpack this; the Relief Period is September 23, 2022 through February 15, 2023 as stated in the IRS’s notice FL-2022-19, dated September 29, 2022 and updated on October 5, 2022. Therefore, if the 45-day or 180-day deadlines fall between the Relief Period, the taxpayer may extend such deadline to February 15, 2023. An Affected Taxpayer includes individuals who live, and businesses (including tax-exempt organizations) whose principal place of business is located, in the state of Florida.

For example:

Facts: Taxpayer has its principal place of business in Lee County, Florida and is therefore classified as an Affected Taxpayer. Taxpayer relinquished their property on June 15, 2022, the 45-day deadline ends July 30, 2022 and the 180-day deadline ends December 12, 2022.

Analysis: The 45-day deadline does not fall between the Relief Period and, therefore, cannot be extended. However, the 180-day deadline does fall between the Relief Period and can be extended until February 15, 2023.

Section 17 Relief

The other section that provides relief in Rev. Proc 2018-58 is Section 17. Section 17 states that if the relinquished property was transferred or parked on or before the date of the disaster, the 45-day and 180-day deadlines that have not yet lapsed, may be extended 120-days from the last day of such deadline or to the last day of the Relief Period, whichever is later (“Section 17 Relief”).

Continue Reading Did Hurricane Ian extend deadlines with my Section 1031 Exchange?

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Last week, Southwest Florida felt the wrath of Hurricane Ian. With the surplus of vessels around the Southwest Florida area, property owners are finding vessels washed up on their properties or left abandoned in the waters around them. This spurs the question,

“What do I do if a vessel is on my property due to Hurricane Ian?

First, a property owner can always attempt to locate the registration number on the vessel’s side to ascertain who the owner is. Once the owner is determined, the property owner can demand the vessel’s rightful owner remove the vessel from the property.

Additionally, a property owner can report the vessel to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). FWC will collect a fee for beginning an investigation, conduct an investigation under Section 705.103, Florida Statutes, and determine the vessel’s owner. If the vessel’s owner does not remove the vessel, it could be declared “derelict” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In Florida, a vessel is considered derelict when it is left stored or abandoned in a wrecked, junked or demolished condition on public waters or private property without the consent of the property owner.

Continue Reading Hurricane Clean-Up: Tips for Handling Abandoned Vessels on your Property

If you have not yet filed your 2021 tax return, the Internal Revenue Service provides a plethora of guidance. Below is a summary of few of the items taxpayers should know before filing:

Cryptocurrency

Did you receive, sell, exchange or buy any virtual currency? All taxpayers filing Form 1040, Form 1040-SR or Form 1040-NR must check one box answering either “Yes” or “No” to the virtual currency question. The question must be answered by all taxpayers, not just taxpayers who engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency in 2021. Click here for more information.

Tax Breaks for Teachers

Teachers or other educators can deduct the unreimbursed cost of books, supplies, computer equipment, software and COVID-19 protective items used in the classroom. For 2022, they will be able to deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses when they file their federal income tax return next year. If they are married and file a joint return with another eligible educator, the limit rises to $600. Click here for more information. For those teachers and educators filing their 2021 tax returns due in April, the deduction is limited to $250. The limit will rise in $50 increments in future years based on inflation adjustments.

Need more time to file?

Continue Reading Important Reminders as 2022 “Tax Day” Approaches

Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual HarassmentEmployers who use arbitration agreements for employment disputes just had the scope of those agreements narrowed. On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act.

As the name of the Act implies, the new law prohibits employers from requiring that sexual harassment and sexual assault claims be arbitrated as part of a mandatory arbitration agreement of employment claims. The new law also overrides any terms of employment agreements that prohibit class actions for sexual harassment or sexual assault claims.

Finally, the law will have an immediate impact because it applies retroactively. This means that it invalidates any current arbitration agreement that an employee has signed to the extent that the claim is for sexual harassment or sexual assault. The only exception is for cases that are already pending or completed in arbitration.

Continue Reading New Law Prohibits Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Claims