Hurricane Irma Tax Deadline Relief

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that tax relief will be available to individuals who live in, and businesses whose principal place of business is located in, 37 different Florida counties affected by Hurricane Irma, including Sarasota and Manatee counties. Taxpayers who live outside the disaster area may also qualify for relief if they have records necessary to meet a deadline located in the disaster area.

The tax relief offered includes additional time to file certain tax returns, additional time to make certain tax payments, and additional time to perform other time-sensitive actions. If an enumerated tax return, tax payment, or other action for which relief has been granted was previously due on or after September 4, 2017 and before January 31, 2018, taxpayers will now have until January 31, 2018 to perform that action without incurring penalties. This relief would apply to businesses with filing extensions until September 15 and individuals with filing extensions until October 16 for their 2016 income tax returns.

Affected taxpayers may also be entitled to claim disaster-related casualty losses and deduct personal property losses not covered by insurance or other reimbursements on either their current year or prior year tax returns. Taxpayers should include the Disaster Designation “Florida, Hurricane Irma” at the top of the relevant 2016 tax form(s).

The Internal Revenue Service will also waive certain fees for tax return copy requests and may consider appropriate relief in the event a tax collection or tax audit matter has been impacted by Hurricane Irma.

A full list of the counties whose residents and businesses may be entitled to tax relief can be accessed here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-for-victims-of-hurricane-irma-in-florida.

Nicholas A. Gard
ngard@williamsparker.com
(941) 552-2563

Should I Pay Exempt Employees Who Miss Work Due to Bad Weather Conditions?

As Florida prepares for a potential direct hit by Hurricane Irma, employers have many concerns. At some point, when decisions have been made about if a business will stay open and if goods or people need to be moved out of harm’s way, the following question will most likely be asked: “Should I pay exempt employees who miss work due to bad weather conditions?”

When it comes to deductions from exempt employees’ salaries it is easy to get into trouble.  The general rule is that an exempt employee is entitled to receive his or her entire salary for any workweek he or she performed work. This means, if the worksite closes for a partial week due to bad weather conditions (such as a hurricane), and the exempt employee has worked during that workweek, the employee is entitled to his or her full salary. However, if the employer has a leave benefit, such as PTO, and the employee has leave remaining, the employer can require the employee to use paid time off for this time away from work. If the employee does not have any remaining leave benefit, he or she must be paid.

If the work site remains open during inclement weather and an employee is absent (even if due to transportation issues), the employee can be required to use paid time off.  If the employee does not have any paid time off remaining, the employer may deduct a full-day’s absence from the employee’s salary. For a more detailed explanation see this opinion letter from the U.S. Department of Labor.

As for non-exempt employees, the FLSA only requires that employees be paid for the hours they actually work. However, those non-exempt employees on fixed salaries for fluctuating workweeks, must be paid their full weekly salary in any week for which work was performed.

 

Jennifer Fowler-Hermes
jfowler-hermes@williamsparker.com
941-552-2558

This post was originally published on Williams Parker’s Labor & Employment Blog. To receive updates regarding labor and employment news and insight, subscribe here

Applicable Federal Rates for August 2017

The Internal Revenue Code prescribes minimum imputed interest rates and time-value-of-money factors applicable to certain loan transactions and estate planning techniques. These rates are tied formulaically to market interest rates. The Internal Revenue Service updates these rates monthly.

These are commonly applicable rates in effect for August 2017:

Short Term AFR (Loans with Terms <= 3 Years)                                          1.29%

Mid Term AFR (Loans with Terms > 3 Years and <= 9 Years)                    1.95%

Long Term AFR (Loans with Terms >9 Years)                                              2.58%

7520 Rate (Used in many estate planning vehicles)                                     2.4%

Here is a link to the complete list of rates: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-17-15.pdf.

E. John Wagner, II
jwagner@williamsparker.com
941-536-2037

Department of Revenue Publishes Guidance on New Sales and Use Tax Exemptions

The Florida Department of Revenue recently issued a Tax Information Publication (TIP No. 17A01-08) offering guidance on the new sales and use tax exemption for animal and aquaculture health products that came into effect on July 1, 2017. Under the new exemption, animal health products administered to, applied to, or consumed by livestock or poultry to alleviate pain or cure or prevent sickness, disease, or suffering are exempt from sales tax. In addition, aquaculture health products that are used by aquaculture producers to prevent fungi, bacteria, and parasitic diseases in the production of aquaculture products are also exempt from sales tax. To be eligible for these exemptions, the purchaser must furnish the seller with an exemption certificate stating that the purchased item is exclusively for an exempted use. The TIP provides details on the contents of the exemption certificate.

Michael J. Wilson
mwilson@williamsparker.com
941-536-2043

Tax Court Rejects IRS’ Attempt to Narrow Reasonable Cause Exception

Earlier this month, the Tax Court rejected an argument by the IRS that in order to establish good faith reliance on a tax advisor, for purposes of avoiding penalties, the taxpayer, a foreign corporation, needed to have (1) conducted an independent investigation into the tax advisor’s background and experience instead of merely relying upon the recommendation of the tax adviser by the taxpayer’s US legal counsel, and (2) hired a tax expert that specialized in international tax law or an attorney with an LL.M. degree.  The Tax Court found that the IRS attempted to impose greater conditions on the taxpayer than what is required under existing law. The Tax Court ruled that the taxpayer reasonably relied upon the recommendation of its legal counsel in hiring the tax advisor. Furthermore, the standard is not whether the tax advisor was an expert in international tax law or an attorney with an LL.M. degree, but instead whether the tax advisor was “a competent professional who had sufficient expertise to justify reliance.”

The opinion in the case, Grecian Magnesite, Industrial & Shipping Co., S.A. v. Commissioner, 149 T.C. 3 (2017), can be found here.

Michael J. Wilson
mwilson@williamsparker.com
941-536-2043

Applicable Federal Rates for July 2017

The Internal Revenue Code prescribes minimum imputed interest rates and time-value-of-money factors applicable to certain loan transactions and estate planning techniques. These rates are tied formulaically to market interest rates. The Internal Revenue Service updates these rates monthly.

These are commonly applicable rates in effect for July 2017:

Short Term AFR (Loans with Terms <= 3 Years)                                          1.22%

Mid Term AFR (Loans with Terms > 3 Years and <= 9 Years)                    1.89%

Long Term AFR (Loans with Terms >9 Years)                                              2.60%

7520 Rate (Used in many estate planning vehicles)                                     2.2%

Here is a link to the complete list of rates: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-17-14.pdf

E. John Wagner, II
jwagner@williamsparker.com
941-536-2037

Follow-Up to Florida Sales Tax Rate on Commercial Leases is Reduced

We previously blogged that the Florida Legislature enacted a reduction to the state sales tax rate on commercial real property leases from 6% to 5.8% effective January 1, 2018. The language of the new statute is unclear as to whether the rate decrease would apply to current leases. However, we have confirmed with a representative of the Florida Department of Revenue that they interpret the rate reduction as applying to current leases for periods after December 31, 2017.

Michael J. Wilson
mwilson@williamsparker.com
941-536-2043

Florida Sales Tax Rate on Commercial Leases is Reduced

Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7109 on May 25, 2017, which reduces the state sales tax rate on commercial real property leases from 6% to 5.8% effective January 1, 2018. However, this rate decrease will not apply to current leases, because the bill provides that the tax rate in effect at the time the tenant occupies or uses the property is applicable, regardless of when a rent payment is due or paid. The bill does not change the local option sales tax, which is imposed in 0.5% increments. So, for example, the applicable rate in Sarasota County for leases commencing on or after January 1, 2018, would be 6.8% (instead of the current 7%). Florida is the only state that charges sales tax on the lease of commercial real property.

Michael J. Wilson
mwilson@williamsparker.com
941-536-2043

Applicable Federal Rates for June 2017

The Internal Revenue Code prescribes minimum imputed interest rates and time-value-of-money factors applicable to certain loan transactions and estate planning techniques. These rates are tied formulaically to market interest rates. The Internal Revenue Service updates these rates monthly.

These are commonly applicable rates in effect for June 2017:

Short Term AFR (Loans with Terms <= 3 Years)                                          1.18%

Mid Term AFR (Loans with Terms > 3 Years and <= 9 Years)                    1.96%

Long Term AFR (Loans with Terms >9 Years)                                              2.68%

7520 Rate (Used in many estate planning vehicles)                                     2.4%

Here is a link to the complete list of rates: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-17-12.pdf

E. John Wagner, II
jwagner@williamsparker.com
941-536-2037

Why You Probably Can Ignore President Trump’s Tax Proposal for Now

On Wednesday, President Trump released his tax proposal.

Take a look. It won’t take long. That’s it. One page of bullet points.

For comparison, now look at this discussion of then-candidate Trump’s tax proposals during the presidential election campaign last fall.

Anything new? Not really.

While restating campaign promises may initiate the legislative discussion, doing so tells us little about what might actually appear in legislation hammered out by competing factions in Congress.

So whether you are excited or disappointed about lower corporate tax rates or estate tax repeal, we suggest re-averting your attention to other matters for the time being.

To that end, this missive also ends without further elaboration.

E. John Wagner, II
jwagner@williamsparker.com
941-536-2037