Some of Florida’s beautiful barrier islands, with their tranquil beaches, are in fact government-owned lands. On those, developers have the right to build vacation and beach houses, which are in turn leased, sometimes over a very long term, to vacationers and locals alike.
The developers will be taxed differently if they are deemed to own the houses or lease them from the government. There, the concept of “equitable ownership” comes in. If the developer has “virtually all the benefits and burdens of ownership,” they are owners, regardless of the fact that they are lessees on paper. Long-term leases from the state with full assignment and sub-leasing rights often qualify. And the taxes paid on the real property get higher.
This will matter even more to our accounting colleagues. And, in part, that is the point. In representing a business, attorneys and accountants must work hand in hand. No business should be without a good accountant and a good lawyer by its side.