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

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing guest posts from our member firms with the Florida Law Alliance, who will be producing an employment law conference on November 10, 2017, at the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel.

Today’s post is from Craig Salner, a partner at the Clarke Silverglate law firm in Miami:

Most South Florida practitioners are familiar with the barrage of recent lawsuits against places of public accommodation challenging their equal accessibility for the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), a statute more known for its ban on disability discrimination in the workplace, has a section known as “Title III” which requires places of public accommodation to provide equal access to persons with disabilities. ADA Title III requirements typically have been applied to components of a business’s physical structure – appropriate linking of the parking lot to the adjacent sidewalk, sufficient main floor space for a wheelchair-bound patron to ambulate between and around aisles, bathrooms with sufficient space to maneuver with reachable soap and paper dispensers, etc.

Successful ADA Title III litigants are entitled to injunctive relief (i.e., the accessibility flaws must be remedied) plus attorney’s fees. Despite the lack of monetary damages available to litigants, ADA Title III litigation has spiked in South Florida with the emergence of certain serial “tester” plaintiffs – specific individuals claiming to test places of public accommodation for ADA Title III compliance and suing in instances of alleged non-compliance. Title III ADA lawsuits have nearly tripled nationwide in the last three years, rising from 2,722 in 2013 to 6,601 in 2016, including a 37 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. Florida is second only to California in the number of 2016 filings.

Are Internet websites places of public accommodation covered by Title III of the ADA?

Continue Reading Company Websites Under Attack – ADA Title III Expanding to the Internet

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

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!

I 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 I 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

Guest post by Summer Associate Kristen Schalter

Football players took another hit in Tallahassee (pun intended) – this time in the workers’ compensation arena in the recent decision in Arena Football League v. Bishop, 2017 WL 2438335 (Fla. 1st DCA June 6, 2017). Bryon Bishop previously played for the Orlando Predators for one season and later wanted to rejoin the team. While participating in the Predators’ two-day tryouts in 2013, he suffered an on-field injury.

AFL Contract

Prior to participating in a tryout, a prospective Arena Football League (“AFL”) player is required to sign a contract.  Interestingly, the AFL contracts with players differently than the NFL. In the NFL, contracts are between individual teams and individual players, while in the AFL contracts are between the league itself and individual players.

Continue Reading AFL Player’s Workers’ Compensation Claim is Sacked by 1st DCA