I attended the Florida Bar’s annual asset protection conference in Miami where I spoke on the topics of attorney ethics in asset protection and the effect of the new bankruptcy law. The conference gives me the opportunity to get news and updates from the best asset protection attorneys in the state. Stuart Morris and Alan Gassman , both very smart attorneys from Ft. Myers and Clearwater respectively, state that the Department of Revenue has reversed its position on imposing documentary tax on type of real estate transfers often involved in asset protection. The Department had been imposing tax on the entire fair market value of properties transferred to asset protection entities even where the ownership of the protection entity was the same as the current ownership. This position imposed a significant cost on common planning transactions involving real estate such as a client’s conveyance of a property he owns to a new limited liability company or family partnership owned 100% by the same client.
After suffering more than one defeat of its position in court cases the Department of Revenue, according to Stuart and Alan, now seeks documentary tax only on the amount of mortgage on transferred property. If the client owns the property free and clear, he can transfer title to any asset protection entity without any doc stamp tax.