Florida’s LLC Statute Changes Are In Effect! Have You Prepared?

Effective January 1st, 2015, all LLCs operating in Florida will be governed under new rules detailed in the Florida Revised Limited Liability Act (“The New Statute”).  Ignoring these changes will not only put your LLC at risk of violating the law, but will also limit your ability to effectively manage your Florida LLC.

What Are Some of the Significant Changes?

Member-managed versus manager-managed

The New Statute completely abolishes the Managing Member concept. LLCs are now either Manager-Managed, or are Member-Managed collectively by all members of the LLC.   For multi member or multi-manager LLCs, it is important to identify the LLC’s “Authorized Representative” with authority to bind an LLC.  You can now file a Statement of Authority which gives that notice; or alternatively, file a Statement of Denial which identifies who cannot bind an LLC.

Additional Non-Waivable Provisions in Operating Agreements

The New Statute highlights 17 non-waivable provisions in Operating Agreements (previously six).  Some of the more significant revisions are:

  1. No “free pass” (indemnification) for bad faith, willful or intentional misconduct, or knowing violation of law.
  2. Preventing an LLC from suing or being sued in its own name.
  3. Unreasonably restricting a member from suing the LLC.
  4. Changing Florida law as the governing law.

LLC Tax Implications

If the LLC taxed as a partnership is engaged in a trade or business activity (as opposed to an investment activity such as interest, dividends, or rentals), the income is generally subject to self-employment taxes as high as 15.3%, on top of income taxes already being paid.

Under proposed tax regulations however, an LLC member can be classified as a limited partner (not subject to self-employment tax) as long as the member does not meet any of the following conditions:

  1. Has personal liability for debts or claims against the partnership by reason of being a partner;
  2. Has authority to contract on behalf of the partnership; or
  3. Participates in the partnership’s trade or business for more than 500 hours during the year.

Under the new changes, a member who meets the tests for hours and liabilities can still be subject to self-employment taxes if the proper statement of authority (or denial) has not been filed.

LLC Membership – Adding LLC members

Traditionally, LLCs are formed when members contribute assets.  Under The New Statute there can also be Members who do not contribute funds or assets to their LLCs.

How can new members be added to an existing LLC?

  1. Follow the terms of the Operating Agreement;
  2. Mergers, interest exchanges, or conversion of LLCs from other types of business entities;
  3. Consent of the current Members; or
  4. A complicated process involving inactive LLCs.

Important:  If an LLC wants to enforce promises to make capital contributions, put those promises in writing.

Bringing on new members creates a variety of tax consequences.  If a member contributes an asset to join the LLC, and that asset’s value is greater than its tax basis, then specific rules must be applied to determine how income should be allocated on the sale or depreciation of that asset.  Alternatively, if a member joins the LLC with no capital contributions, their tax consequences can be treated one of two ways:  (1.) a new member is subject to tax on the receipt of their interest if the interest would entitle them to receive distributions on liquidation from day one.  (2.) Or, a new member can receive a profit’s interest (tax free), which entitles them to future profits but no immediate distributions on current value.

LLC Membership – Subtracting LLC members

When Members disassociate, they do not necessary have a buy-out right from the LLC.  There are also tax implications on the disposition of an LLC interest.   Abandonment of an LLC interest can create an ordinary or capital loss depending on whether the partnership is liable for any debts.  Membership interests can also be sold to a third party (or the other partners), or redeemed by the LLC (with varying tax consequences).  Sales of membership interests can also create opportunities for additional depreciation deductions for a buyer.

Compensation and Distributions

Without an agreement, Members are not necessarily entitled to compensation.   On a related vein, be careful with distributions. LLCs must be solvent to do so. Usually just money can be distributed. Once entitled to receive a distribution, the entitled party becomes a creditor. Distributions can even go to disassociated Members. If distributions are made improperly, LLC Members and Managers can be personally liable for improper distributions if they consent to them, subject to a statutory “safe harbor”.

What Should I Do Now?

Well-considered Operating Agreements are extremely important.  They should address issues like membership, management, distributions, income allocations, adding members, disassociation, deadlock resolutions, and much more.  Have your lawyer and CPA review your Operating Agreement, or help you create one if you currently do not have one.

Author Bios:  Philip N. Kabler, Esq. is an attorney with Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A., practicing in the areas of real estate, business, and banking.  John VanDuzer is a CPA and consultant with James Moore & Co., serving the needs of individuals and businesses in the areas of real estate, complex partnerships, and construction.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a James Moore professional. James Moore will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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