An Unobjectionable Tax, As Taxes Go

There is probably no such thing as a lovable tax.

Many are easy to detest, and sometimes they are unpopular enough to spark a rebellion. It happened in Boston once, when the government tried to collect a tax on tea.

But taxes are necessary if we are to have any government at all, and some taxes are more benign – which is to say, fairer and less burdensome – than others. When such a tax is imposed by a government that delivers good value for the money it extracts, we ought not to complain too much. This is why I did not accept an invitation, extended by my office landlord in Florida, to demand a reduction in the sales taxes I pay on my firm’s lease in Fort Lauderdale.

The request was prompted by legislation currently under consideration by the Florida Senate. Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, proposes lowering the tax by 1 percent. It has passed two committees and is under consideration by a third as of this writing. Several other bills have been introduced recently to reduce or eliminate the commercial rent tax, but Hukill’s legislation has so far shown the most momentum. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, drawing support from landlords, building managers and other members of the commercial real estate industry.

The tax on commercial rent is 6 percent in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale. It varies in other parts of the state, where localities have added their own taxes; it is 7 percent in Miami-Dade County, for example. Those who object to the tax point out that Florida is the only state in the nation that levies a standard, statewide tax on commercial real estate leases.

This is true. It is also true that we have no income tax in Florida. We have no gift or estate tax. Our property taxes are reasonable compared to a lot of other places, especially other big states like New York. These elements make Florida an excellent place to start or grow a business. The commercial rent tax has little bearing as far as I can see.

This is especially true because the tax is part of the rent expense paid by the business. This means that it is automatically deducted when I figure my federal income tax as the business owner of a limited liability company. It is also not subject to alternative minimum tax, nor to other limitations on deductions paid by high-income taxpayers.

In addition, any business occupying the same space at the same rent pays the same tax, regardless of whether that business is a corporation or a sole proprietorship. It doesn’t matter whether the business is organized overseas, in another state or right here in Florida. If you lease physical space in the state for your business, the tax is the same. While no one is excited about paying a tax, it seems to me that on balance Florida still has a lot to offer a business owner, this tax notwithstanding.

Building owners see things differently. They claim that eliminating the tax altogether would put $1.5 billion back in the hands of businesses that could expand operations in Florida. (Right now only a reduction, not elimination, is under consideration in Tallahassee.) That’s clearly wrong. To a business, the tax is just part of the rent we pay. Eliminating the tax would mainly create space for landlords to raise that rent, and I expect that much, probably most, of the benefit would accrue to building owners. That’s not an inherently terrible outcome; I don’t begrudge them a profit on their property. But I doubt repealing this tax would have much stimulative effect on Florida’s economy as a whole.

A more complex but valid argument could be made that commercial property is being taxed twice – once through the property tax that building owners pay, which is factored into commercial rents, and then again via the sales tax that is imposed directly on lease payments. In fact, many commercial leases include escalator clauses that directly pass property tax increases through to tenants with long-term leases. So in these terms, the activity of holding and using commercial space in Florida is undeniably being taxed twice. But property taxes go entirely to localities; in Broward County, the sales tax goes entirely to the state. Somebody has to pay for state services.

Amber Hughes, a lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, told the Florida News Service that decreased revenue even under the proposed 1 percent reduction worries local governments. State budgeters are probably not thrilled by the prospect either. If it passes, the bill would reduce state revenue by approximately $97.8 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year, and by an estimated $234.9 million for subsequent years when the reduction is in effect for the full year. That’s a big hit in exchange for getting rid of a tax that isn’t especially unfair or burdensome.

The commercial rent tax obviously does not burden poor people, who don’t rent commercial space. It has only a small impact on small businesses that keep their overhead low by using small, cheap spaces in secondary locations. It falls most heavily on the large, established businesses that use a lot of space and can typically afford it – especially since, in the final analysis, the tax is just another cost of leasing space, comparable to utilities, security and janitorial services.

Top 4 Tips for Hiring a Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawyer

When you witness fraud around you, it is your duty to hire a Whistleblower lawyer to file a case. These attorneys keep you as a secret and take steps to catch the third-party who is doing the fraud. The third-party is a person or a group of members.

Selecting a law firm to represent you in the whistleblower lawsuit is one of the important decisions that affect the outcome of the case. You can take help of the internet to get information of the Qui Tam attorneys. You can know about the various law firms that show their success in this field. Here are some of the tips you should follow while hiring the whistleblower attorney.

• Having Success In Qui Tam Lawsuits:

You should select a lawyer who has many years of experience in the Qui Tam law (False Claims Act). Some of the lawyers claim that they have success stories in False Claim cases; but in reality, they did not work on the federal Qui Tam Lawsuits. It is better to check the earlier cases and ask for the examples regarding the success under the False Claims Act.

• Look For Experience And Dedication:

When you are hiring a whistleblower lawyer to file a case against fraud, you should look for experiences. An attorney having more than 5 years of experience in the particular field of Qui Tam Law is able to handle your case effectively. The expert should give all his concentration to handle your case. You search for dedication as well. You should not hire a personal injury lawyer to file a case against fraud.

• Maintaining A Good Relationship:

You should expect good results from the lawyer. While selecting the attorney, you should see that the expert is maintaining a good relation with you. You can only be able to discuss your problem when the lawyer is polite and show interest in your case. If the attorney is ready to give free consultation to you, discuss the case with him. These lawyers always keep the case as a secret. You can only discuss the matter with the lawyer when you feel comfortable.

• Discus The Fees:

It is one of the important steps when you are selecting the lawyer. Some of the lawyers take fees only if he wins in the case. In some of the situations, the attorneys charge a minimal fee in the beginning. Be sure that the attorney does not charge extra fees in between. Always the fees depend upon lawyer’s experience.

These are the four tips you should follow while you are hiring a Qui Tam lawsuit attorney for you. Many years of experience and proper knowledge about the Qui Tam laws can help the professional to handle your case with care. File a case with the help of the efficient lawyer from a reputed law firm.

Provider Service Volume Is No Longer King

As the shift from fee for service to value based payment develops, one thing is crystal clear: volume is no longer king. Prior to 2010, medical providers were being paid on the amount of services that they rendered. The more patients that they treated, the more money they made. That certainty has disappeared with value based compensation and outcomes are now driving the compensation. To be successful, a provider must learn to bend both the quality and cost curve. In short, providers must increase quality while decreasing costs.

When contemplating negotiating or entering into a value based contract, the first thing to consider is the amount of financial risk that your practice or healthcare business can take on.

The best way to determine which payment model best suits your needs is to hire a qualified financial healthcare analyst who will be able to generate financial risk modeling. A provider will then have a common starting point to negotiate as well as a better understanding of the issues, risks, and potential cost savings involved.

After financial risk has been evaluated, the next area to consider is which quality metrics to include in the value based contract. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers for this. In fact, there are likely more questions than answers at this point. One certainty is that wherever CMS goes, the rest of the payers are likely to follow. Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is directed to consolidate components of the three specified existing performance incentive programs into a new Merit-based Incentive Payment (MIP) system under which physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists would receive annual payment increases or decreases based upon their performance as measured by standards the Secretary shall establish according to specified criteria. This new model is still a couple of years away from implementation but will be important to follow as it will likely be the guidepost for many payers to follow.

Additionally, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is also testing numerous models that have a wide range of quality metrics outlined and these too will inspire managed care payment models that will be implemented on a larger scale. When reviewing these metrics, the provider’s focus should be centered on what the practice does well. What is it that your practice or business does each and every day really well that makes a difference in the lives of your patients? This is where the opportunity lies!