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Industrial Development Agencies Located In The Central New York Regional Transportation District No Longer Exempt From The Additional Mortgage Recording Tax

In 1969, New York State enacted the New York State Industrial Development Agency Act which created industrial development agencies (“IDAs”). New York State created IDAs to promote the economic welfare, recreation opportunities and prosperity of the inhabitants of New York State. IDAs have traditionally provided financial assistance by offering exemptions from sales and use taxes, mortgage recording tax, and real property taxes. Mortgages executed by IDAs have been exempt from the payment of all mortgage recording taxes, including (1) the Basic Tax of 0.50% of the amount of the mortgage, (2) the Special Additional Tax of 0.25% of the amount of the mortgage, (3) the Additional Tax of 0.25% of the amount of the mortgage for mortgages recorded in counties located within the Central New York Regional Transportation District and certain other transportation districts and 0.30% of the amount of the mortgage for counties located within the downstate Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District, and (4) any local mortgage recording tax imposed by some cities and counties.

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Federal Court Blocks Implementation of New Overtime Rules

Late on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Labor (“USDOL”) from implementing and enforcing its new overtime rules. These overtime rules would have raised the minimum salary level for the white collar exemptions (executive, administrative, professional) to $47,476 per year. These rules would have gone into effect on December 1, 2016 had the court not issued the injunction.

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Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets

On September 29, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law a new statute amending the New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law in relation to the administration of digital assets.

The New York State Assembly Memorandum in support of the legislation explains the need for this legislation as follows:

“The wide use of digital assets has created an urgent need for legislation dealing with the administration of these [digital] assets upon the death or incapacity of the user. As a practical matter, there should be no difference between a fiduciary’s ability to gain access to information from an online bank or other Internet-based business and the fiduciary’s ability to gain access to information from a business with a brick and mortar building. This measure . . . amend[s] the EPTL [New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law] to restore control of the disposition of digital assets back to the individual and removes such power from the service provider.

This measure gives fiduciaries authority to gain access to manage, distribute and copy or delete digital assets. It addresses four types of fiduciaries, namely: a personal representative (executor or administrator) of a decedent’s estate; a guardian of a ward or protected person; an agent acting pursuant to a power of attorney; and a trustee.

In the past, where property was mostly in tangible there was little doubt of its ownership and control. Indeed the law recognizes that when a property owner dies or becomes unable to manage his or her property such owner may appoint a fiduciary to manage the property. The role of the fiduciary subsumes the duty of loyalty, care and confidentiality. The system has worked well throughout our history. This measure does not break legal ground, it merely applies the laws governing fiduciaries to a new type of property.”

What are digital assets? The new statute defines a digital asset as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. The term does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.” Examples that come to mind are email, online banking and social media. The types of digital assets seem to increase daily.

This is a step in the right direction for fiduciaries dealing with digital assets. It is very important for individuals to review their current wills and powers of attorney and make sure that the disclosure (or nondisclosure) of digital assets is addressed in those documents, because if the individual does not authorize a fiduciary to access digital assets either online or through a will, power of attorney or trust, the fiduciary will not automatically have access to the content of digital assets.

Tips & New Initiatives for Health Care Plans from the Federal Department of Labor

Mary Rosen, the Associate Regional Director of the United States Department of Labor for New England including Upstate New York gave a presentation Wednesday on common issues with health care plans. She also described six tips for common plan errors and three new initiatives the DOL is working on.

This seminar hosted by Anthony Stevens was a very good opportunity to hear what issues the Federal DOL is focused upon.

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Estate Planning – Much More Than Signing a Will

In the age of the internet, there is a growing trend amongst the American populace who decide they need a Will to avoid the cost of a lawyer and use a legal services website like Legal Zoom® or use some free Will form found on the internet. However, there are many dynamics that go into estate planning beyond executing a “simple” Will.   First, you may have family dynamics or complex assets such as a closely-held business that require something more than a “simple” Will.

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Summer in the City – SIDA Makes Waves with New Tax Exemption Policies

The City of Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) made waves earlier this summer when board members unanimously voted to end the long-standing practice of giving the Syracuse Common Council the ability to vote on all payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements. As of June 21, 2016, the Council’s PILOT oversight is limited to instances in which an agreement deviates from the Agency’s uniform tax exemption policy (UTEP).

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Pokemon Stop: Gaming Sensation Raises Potential Legal Issues

Authored by Christopher Powers, Summer Law Clerk

As you may have heard, Pokemon Go is sweeping the nation, including Central New York.

Pokemon Go is a downloadable mobile app where players try to find different characters from the popular Japanese cartoon and video game on a virtual map based on a user’s actual surroundings. The app uses GPS and other geolocation features on a user’s smartphone to places the virtual characters at local landmarks. Then, the player then must go to the place and use traditional gaming techniques to “capture” the character. Pokemon Go was released on July 7, and has become a worldwide sensation. Within a week, the game already had been downloaded more than 10 million times, according to CNN.

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Even if You’re Eligible for a Ticketmaster Refund, That Doesn’t Mean You’ll Get It

Authored by Christopher Powers, Summer Law Clerk

This week, the new Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse, N.Y., hosted one of the biggest concerts of the summer in these parts. The sold-out Dave Matthews Band concert was the first show of the season, and first ever sellout, at the new venue, which opened in 2015.

The kickoff of concert season coincides perfectly with the settlement of a major legal dispute that has implications for concert-goers, here in Syracuse and across the country, for months and possibly years to come.

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Changes Coming in the Archaic New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law

Governor Cuomo announced this past week that he is advancing legislation to “modernize” the State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law”). As someone that has spent years of my life ensuring license applicants comply with the law, first as an employee of the Liquor Authority and more recently as counsel to individuals and entities appearing before the Liquor Authority, this is a welcome announcement. While we don’t yet know all of the exact details and language, we do know some of the areas the Governor is proposing to change. They are as follows:

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