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

Guest Speaker Steve Gilliland

Make plans to attend the largest employment law conference in Southwest Florida, HR Law & Solutions, now in its 26th year! Henderson Franklin’s Employment Law and Workers’ Compensation attorneys will return to Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, for a fun-filled day of education and networking. Click here to view the seminar brochure.

Topics and Speakers

8:30 – 9:45 a.m. Legislative and Case Law Update
Speakers: John D. Agnew, Esquire and Robert C. Shearman, Esquire
John and Bob will provide an interactive update on notable court decisions,
including cases addressing contentious employment policies and contract provisions, discrimination against protected classes of workers, as well as other noteworthy employee claims. EEOC trends and legislative developments impacting employers also will be addressed.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. When Can I Fire This Injured Employee
Panel: Michael McCabe, Esquire (Moderator); Martha Bryson, SHRM-SCP, SPHR; John F. Potanovic, Esquire; David H. Roos, Esquire; and, Frank W. Piazza, Esquire (Mediator)
A panel of workers’ compensation and employment defense attorneys will be joined by an HR professional and a claimant’s attorney/mediator to address best practices when confronted with discipline or termination of an employee with an ongoing or recent workers’ compensation claim. The discussion will explore issues that can arise when dealing with this sensitive scenario, under workers compensation law, the ADA, and the FMLA, with the goal of avoiding unnecessary costs (wages and benefits) and reducing the risk of litigation.

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. #MeToo: Addressing the Harassment Epidemic in the Workplace
Speakers: Suzanne M. Boy, Esquire and John F. Potanovic, Esquire
One can hardly turn on the news these days without being bombarded by allegations of sexual harassment against celebrities and other public figures. #MeToo has become a powerful symbol of just how widespread sexual harassment is across the planet, with women and men of all backgrounds and in countless professions sharing their stories of abuse and harassment. In this session, attendees will learn about the many forms of sexual harassment, the types of behavior the courts say constitutes sexual harassment, the EEOC’s guidance and legal considerations regarding harassment, and an employer’s obligations under the law. Attendees will also learn practical tips, including specific actions to foster a harassment-free workplace; how to develop and enforce an anti-harassment policy; and day-to-day management practices that safeguard an organization.

1:45  – 3:15 p.m. Hide Your Goat: Strategies to Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You
Guest Speaker: Steve Gilliland
Not only do problem employees perform poorly, they make it tough for everyone else to do their jobs, too. The infection can spread quickly and those who discharge the poisonous toxin are masquerading as managers, supervisors and co-workers. The venom they eject produces by-products of bad attitudes, including resistance to change and personality conflicts. They cost plenty in terms of productivity and morale and make life tough for everyone. They delight in getting your goat! You’ll learn why people have bad attitudes and explore ways to head off conflict and confront people about their bad attitudes. Armed with information you gain from this session, you’ll be on your way to finding win-win solutions that will have you and your colleagues working effectively together. This session is guaranteed to make you laugh a lot, learn a lot, and leave outfitted with the means necessary to Hide Your Goat.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Employment Law Potpourri
Panel: John D. Agnew, Esquire; Suzanne M. Boy, Esquire; John F. Potanovic, Esquire; Robert C. Shearman, Esquire; David H. Roos, Esquire; Michael McCabe, Esquire
The legal issues facing HR professionals in the current economic climate are many, and the ever-evolving nature of employment law can make management and prevention of problems difficult for even the most experienced HR professional. Thorough knowledge of employment laws, early recognition of issues, and swift problem solving is key to reducing your company’s exposure to the many employment claims so prevalent today. Have questions you would like answered by the panelists? Email them in advance to Gail Lamarche at gail.lamarche@henlaw.com.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Happy Hour
Please join us after the conference for happy hour.

Continuing Education

This conference has been approved by SHRM for 5.75 PDCs and from HRCI for 5.75 Recertification Credit Hours (General).

Conference Partners

We are grateful for the support and sponsorship of Lykes Insurance (lunch sponsor) and of Gravity Benefits (breakfast and happy hour sponsor), as well as our in-kind partners Charlotte County SHRM, SHRM SWFL, and HR Collier.

Registration

Registration is $50 per person and includes a continental breakfast, plated lunch, seminar materials, and valet parking. To online register now, click here.

Join the discussion on social media using the #swflhrlaw hashtag.

We hope to see you soon! For group reservations or questions, please contact me at gail.lamarche@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1186.

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

Today’s guest post comes from Susan Smith Erdelyi, Esquire, Marks Gray, Jacksonville. She will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 with EEOC District Director Michael Farrell:

Did you know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is becoming paperless? That’s right. The agency now uses a portal for employer position statements and no longer accepts paper documents from employers. So, if your employer/client is still mailing paper documents to the EEOC, it’s time to step aboard the EEOC Respondent Portal.

How Does It Work?

Continue Reading HR Seminars: Transparency, Efficiency and the EEOC Portal System

Today’s guest post comes from Michael Schofield, Esq., from the Clark Partington firm in Pensacola. He will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 (see below for more details):

Traditionally, when an employer and employee have a dispute over working conditions, terms, pay, or whatever, the employee quits or is fired, the employer then receives notice of a pending claim, either through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC), or the state’s agency, and perhaps notice of a lawsuit. Recently, however, more employers are requiring arbitration in contracts of employment and such contractual agreements are being upheld.

In an employment context, is arbitration a good thing, bad thing, or simply and alternative to trial?

Continue Reading What You Need to Know About Employment Dispute Arbitration

Today’s guest post comes from Jeff Wilcox, an associate at the Hill Ward Henderson firm in Tampa. He will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 (see below for more details):

Are you making deductions from your exempt employees’ pay? If so, you may lose the right to classify the employee as exempt and, as a result, may end up owing the employee overtime pay for all overtime hours worked over the last two, or possibly three, years.

As a general rule, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not permit deductions from an exempt employee’s salary, because the salary cannot be dependent on the number of days or hours he or she works, or even the employee’s quantity or quality of work. There are, however, limited exceptions where deductions can be made. For example, if the employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons, a deduction is permissible. Moreover, if the employee is absent from work for one or more full days for sickness or disability, and the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide “sick leave” plan, policy, or practice, a deduction is again permissible. Other limited exceptions exist, and it is important for employers not to deduct from an exempt employee’s salary unless one of the exceptions applies.

Join us in Fort Lauderdale in November

Continue Reading Deductions From Employees’ Salaries May Lead to Liability