Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.

Guest post by Madison Tanner, Esq.

It is the most wonderful time of the year! Bonus season. Jokes aside, it is the season of giving. We have all been through so much this year: a pandemic, a contentious election, and virtual meetings replacing human interaction. The challenges we faced in 2020 resulted in the closure of local restaurants, reduced hours at small boutiques, and limitation of leisurely activities outside of the home. Many of us (particularly the last minute shoppers like me) are fleeing to our favorite small businesses to purchase a gift certificate for a loved one while simultaneously supporting the “shop small” movement. Small businesses graciously save the (holi)day with their festive gift certificates and I-O-U services. Thanks to these establishments, we can purchase an experience for our loved ones ranging from a facial or massage to a meal at their ideal lunch spot. The begging question is: how long does one have to use that gift certificate? The answer: in Florida, it should not expire.

Florida Law

Florida Statute § 501.95 governs on the issue. The statute, beloved by the consumer and despised by the small business owner, was first enacted in 2007 in an effort to regulate trade and protect consumers. Pursuant to § 501.95(2)(a):

“a gift certificate purchased or credit memo issued in this state may not have an expiration date, expiration period, or any type of postsale charge or fee imposed on the gift certificate or credit memo….”

Exceptions to the Rule


Continue Reading Small Businesses Beware and Consumers Rejoice: Gift Certificates Cannot Expire

Taxpayers have until today (July 15) to request an extension to file their 2019 federal tax return. If an extension is approved, taxpayers could have until October 15 to file, but any taxes owed are due by July 15.

Common Tax Return Errors

The IRS has noted the following common tax return errors:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers
  • Math errors
  • Inaccurate filing status
  • Incorrect calculation of credits or deductions
  • Unsigned returns
  • Filing with an expired individual taxpayer identification number

The IRS highly encourages taxpayers to use the e-file or IRS Free File system. The IRS software will formulate calculations, flag common errors, and prompt taxpayers for missing information, all of which ultimately reduces tax return errors. A tax return containing errors can delay refunds.

What if I can’t pay my tax bill?


Continue Reading IRS Provides Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers

June 4 Update

House Bill H.R. 7010 passed the Senate and is now on its way to the President to sign. In addition to amendments relating to the PPP loan program, the bill provides that the deferral of employment taxes is now available even for taxpayers who have PPP loans that re forgiven under the CARES Act. This will allow taxpayers who obtain PPP loans and intend to apply for loan forgiveness to also defer the applicable employment taxes.

April 30, 2020 Update

The IRS has issued Notice 2020-32, which provides further guidance on some certain tax consequences associated with PPP loans. In particular, the IRS has confirmed that expenses paid with PPP loans will not be deductible to the extent attributable to the portion of the loan forgiven.

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The Internal Revenue Service announced further tax relief for individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers.

Individuals and Businesses Extensions

Penalties and interest have been waived for every U.S. taxpayer, including those living and working abroad, who wish to wait until July 15, 2020 to file their 2019 federal tax return and/or pay any taxes owed. Should an individual need an extension beyond the July 15 deadline, they must file Form 4868.

A business who needs an extension must file Form 7004. Granted extensions will allow individuals and business owners until October 15, 2020 to file. This extension will not extend the July 15 deadline to pay taxes owed. Taxpayers requesting the October extension should estimate their tax liability and pay in full by July 15 to avoid accumulating interest and penalties.

Estimated Tax Payment and Unclaimed Refunds


Continue Reading COVID-I9: IRS Extends More Tax Deadlines and Provides CARES Act Guidance

Dan Schwartz of the Connecticut Employment Law blog posted yesterday about an interesting medical marijuana case in Connecticut. For the first time, a Connecticut court ruled that an employer could not refuse to hire an applicant simply because she was a medical marijuana user, despite the employer’s drug-free workplace program. This applicant, who used medical marijuana for PTSD, had her offer revoked after she tested positive for marijuana on the pre-employment drug screen. She then sued for discrimination. In ruling for the applicant, the court focused on the anti-discrimination provision in Connecticut’s medical marijuana law:

[U]nless required by federal law or required to obtain funding: . . . (3) No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver under sections 21a-408 to 21a-408n, inclusive. Nothing in this subdivision shall restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or restrict an employer’s ability to discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-408p(b)(3) (emphasis added).

Does this decision have any impact on Florida employers?


Continue Reading Connecticut Court Finds Employer Discriminated for Refusing to Hire Medical Marijuana User: What Does This Mean for Florida Employers?

The Department of Labor just issued updated FMLA forms, good through August 31, 2021. No more using “expired” forms!  For anyone who was expecting “updated” to mean changed or improved…well, we are sorry to disappoint you – the only thing that was updated was the date! The forms are otherwise identical.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Releases Updated FMLA Forms

Property Right

Can employers arbitrarily terminate a person’s employment in Florida? Florida is an “at will” state, meaning employers generally can terminate an employee for any lawful reason, just as employees may quit for any reason. Certain public employees, however, enjoy a property interest/right to their employment and may be terminated only for cause.

Both the United States and the Florida Constitutions provide that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In the employment context, this guarantee of due process functions to protect certain public employees from being deprived of a protected property interest in their employment. Bd. of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972). Indeed, in Roth, the United States Supreme Court held that, where public employees have a property right or property interest in their continued employment, the employer may not terminate the employee without certain due process protections.


Continue Reading Property Rights in Continued Employment for Public Employees: The Basics

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?

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

If you are like me, you have been focused on all things weather-related the last day or two. In Southwest Florida, we are firmly stuck in the “cone of uncertainty” in the path of Hurricane Irma, a storm the weather-folks keep calling “potentially catastrophic.”  There were even rumors of a Jim Cantore sighting in Fort Myers yesterday…and anyone who has lived in Florida for a hurricane season or two knows what that means!

We know many of you are working on storm preparations, which, with a storm of this magnitude, naturally means you are faced with potential workplace closures. If the number of questions we received yesterday is any indication, there is a lot of uncertainty about when and how to pay employees if your business closes before and/or after the storm.

Impact of Workplace Closure on Payroll


Continue Reading Cone of Uncertainty: Wage/Hour Concerns in the Path of Hurricane Irma