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Category: Blog

Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM) Are Coming Soon
Wed, Aug 5, 2020| | Articles

Notice of Proposed Property Taxes (TRIM) Are Coming Soon

Florida’s “Truth-in-Millage” (TRIM) Act was designed to inform property owners which governmental entity is responsible for the taxes levied against their property and the amount owed to each entity. The Notice of Proposed Property Taxes is known as the “TRIM Notice.” TRIM Notices are usually sent out in mid to late August of each year by the Property Appraiser’s Office in the county where the property is located.  This notice is not a bill but rather an estimate of anticipated taxes based upon the proposed budgets of the governmental entities, your property value and any applicable exemptions. PROPERTY VALUE The TRIM notice will contain your property’s market, assessed and taxable values and list any exemptions that you may have. Market Value, also known as ‘Just Value’, is the county Property Appraiser’s best estimate of what a willing purchaser would pay to a willing seller while also considering other things such as the highest and best use of the property, the income from the property or the present replacement value of the property, to name a few.  The Just Value is based on a January 1 appraisal and considers real estate transactions from the previous year as well as comparable values in your area. The Assessed Value is generally the Just Value limited by the ‘Save Our Homes’ (SOH) cap on homesteaded property or the 10% cap on non-homesteaded property. The SOH cap prevents the assessed value of homestead property from increasing more than 3% per year, or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, […]

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Estate Planning During a Pandemic
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

Estate Planning During a Pandemic

By working together, our community, our nation, and our world will make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the devastation caused by the Coronavirus has forced us to face many difficult realities.  We can choose to be proactive instead of spending our precious time worrying about the unknown. The following are ideas for practical legal efforts that may provide peace of mind during these challenging times, along with some basic information about Estate Planning in Florida:   Health Care Providers and First Responders: The manner in which this crisis has unfolded has resulted in extreme stress on our health care systems and emergency personnel.  Due to their level of exposure, many health care providers and first responders are highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19.  It is vitally important that all people have emergency surrogacy documents (“advance directives”) in place, but it is even more important for those on the front lines.  In Florida, emergency surrogacy documents typically include the following: (General) Durable Powers of Attorney for financial and personal decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called an “Agent” or “Attorney-in-Fact”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your property (or this may be done via separate document); Designations of Health Care Surrogates for health care-related decision-making during your incapacity (your designated decision-maker is called a “Health Care Surrogate”).  This document may include a pre-need designation for a legal guardian of your person (or this may be done via separate document); and Living Will declarations […]

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COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Certain Social Security Beneficiaries

You may be aware that distribution of COVID-19 “stimulus checks” has begun for individuals who filed income tax returns in 2018 and 2019.  Many Social Security recipients file income tax returns and will be included in the first wave of recipients without additional action on their part.  For other Social Security beneficiaries, the following information may be helpful/important: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients With Dependent Children: typically, SSI recipients do not file income tax returns; however, they are still entitled to stimulus payments.  The U.S. Treasury will use SSA-1099 information to identify these individuals.  SSI recipients with dependent children will need to provide information about their eligible children in order to receive an additional $500 per dependent child.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has not provided a deadline for reporting this information as of the date of this posting. Social Security Retirement/Survivor’s Benefits Recipients, Social Security Disability Recipients, and Railroad Retirement Benefits Recipients With Dependent Children: if you receive one of these benefits and did not file an income tax return in 2018/2019, the deadline to add $500 per eligible dependent child to your stimulus check was April 22, 2020.  That said, you may still be eligible to receive the payment if you file a 2020 income tax return and include the necessary information about your dependent child(ren). Income and Resource Limitations for SSI and Medicaid Recipients: the stimulus checks WILL NOT be counted as income for SSI purposes, and will not be counted as a resource to the recipient […]

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Commercial Landlord and Tenant Relations During COVID-19
Tue, May 5, 2020| | Articles

Commercial Landlord and Tenant Relations During COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc on many commercial landlords and tenants in Florida, as tenants are unable to pay rent or request rent relief of some form or another. With the economic pressures commercial tenants are facing because of shelter-at-home orders and COVID-19’s effects on the general economy, the risks of tenants failing has drastically increased. According to a March 30th survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, 92% of small employers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Furthermore, only approximately half of the employers surveyed can survive more than two months under the current conditions. Landlords are faced with trying to be as accommodating as possible to tenants while facing their own financial difficulties because of the fixed costs associated with real estate including mortgage payments, maintenance, taxes and insurance. This article is intended to give commercial landlords and tenants general items to consider to best determine a course of action in light of the pandemic. Before attempting negotiations with a tenant or taking other actions, landlords should consider seeking the following type of information from tenants as a means to determine the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses: (1) financial statements for 2019 and year-to-date 2020; (2) financial projection for the remainder of 2020 including statements on whether they believe business will return as usual after shelter-at-home orders are lifted; (3) a summary of governmental assistance that the tenants have applied for or intend to apply for including the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic […]

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Navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Tue, Apr 14, 2020| | Blog

Navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which contains the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, became effective April 1, 2020. The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, a covered employer must provide employees: Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.  Additionally, under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, a covered employer must provide employees that it has employed for at least 30 days: Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded […]

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COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses under the CARES Act
Tue, Apr 14, 2020| | Blog

COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses under the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law on March 27, 2020.  This is Phase 3 of the federal government’s stimulus package and provides small businesses, sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons access to substantive economic relief.  The intent of the legislation is to help employers ride out the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully enable them to retain their workforce.   The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will likely be the primary form of relief used by small businesses under the CARES Act and the following is intended to provide a general overview of the program by breaking down its various terms and scope of application.   The PPP provides “eligible small businesses” access to “forgivable” “loans,” capped at $10 million, for up to 2.5 times the business’ “average monthly payroll” costs incurred in the one-year period prior to the loan application, for “specified uses”.  Each of these terms is addressed below in a question and answer format.  The purpose of the PPP is to assist employers in retaining their employees during the course of the pandemic.   Loan Eligibility:  Who is an “Eligible Small Business”?    Employers in operation on February 15, 2020 are eligible for a PPP loan to the extent the employer either (i) has less than 500 employees, or (ii) meets the size standards set by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the industry in which the business operates.    Loan Terms:  What is the total eligible […]

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