Avoiding And Defending Florida License Tax Audits

Law360, New York (August 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT) -- Florida hotels and restaurants are facing license tax audits, assessments and penalties in increasing numbers. A "license" is statutorily defined as the granting of a privilege to use or occupy a building or real property. The Florida Legislature added "licenses" to "leases" and "rentals" of real property as subject to Florida's commercial rental tax in 1986, ostensibly to close a "loophole" enabling parties to characterize their leases as licenses to avoid taxation. But the Department of Revenue (DOR) has come to interpret the license tax expansively as applicable to any type of ancillary business arrangement where a vendor makes a payment to use floor, shelf or counter space. Below, we discuss the two most common arrangements in the restaurant and hotel industry: on-site vendor arrangements and retail placement arrangements....

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