Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lights - Camera - Taxes!

You might be surprised to learn that both federal and state tax codes offer incentives to encourage film and television production. In fact, Section 181 of the Internal Revenue Code gives most film and television productions a tax deduction of up to $15 million of production costs ($20 million for productions in economically distressed areas). The deduction can be taken during the first year of production and applies only to productions commenced before the end of 2014. Despite Congress's recent action to extend the provision, it remains to be seen whether the tax incentive will apply to productions begun in 2015.

In addition to the federal deduction, many states offer a variety of incentives to encourage filmmakers to produce somewhere other than Hollywood. States believe these incentives attract award-winning films to their locations, such as “Mud” (Arkansas) or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Louisiana). However, at least some evidence exists that state film incentives may be falling out of favor.

For the time being, however, Ohio filmmakers may be able to take advantage of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, a refundable, non-transferable tax credit of 25-35% off the amount of a production company's qualifying expenditures that are incurred in producing a film or other media entertainment project in Ohio. More information on the state incentive is available from the Ohio Film Office, along with a map of Ohio’s famous television and movie filming locations.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Facebook Users Can Now Designate Someone to Manage Account After Death

In response to growing calls from the public, Facebook has given users more control over their account after death. 

From the Associated Press:

Facebook is making it easier to plan for your online afterlife. 

The world's biggest online social network said Thursday that it will now let users pick someone who can manage their account after they die. Previously, the accounts were "memorialized" after death, or locked so that no one could log in. 

But Facebook says its users wanted more choice. Beginning in the U.S., Facebook users can now pick a "legacy contact" to post on their page after they die, respond to new friend requests and update their profile picture and cover photo. Users can also have their accounts deleted after their death, which was not possible before.

For more, read the Associated Press article, add a legacy contact to your Facebook page, or learn more about managing "digital assets" after death.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Property Deed Restrictions: Are They Enforceable?

When transferring property, an owner may wish to place certain restrictions in the deed to limit the new owner’s use of the property. Such restrictions typically “run with the land” – meaning they are not personal to the owner and will affect future owners.

Typical deed restrictions are the following:
  • Grantee retains the right to use the land for hunting purposes.
  • The Property may not be rented or leased to any third party. 
  • Only one single-family residence is permitted on the Property. 
  • No trees may be removed from the three acres of the Property bordering Buckeye Creek. 
  • Grantee retains the right of first refusal and option to purchase, in the event Grantee wishes to sell the Property to a third party. 
While most deed restrictions are valid, those that are against public policy are unenforceable. For example, restrictions that bar the grantee from transferring the property are considered a restraint on alienation because they prevent the free flow of property. A restriction that limits transfer of the property to buyers of a certain race is invalid.

Ohio’s legislature and judiciary have also looked at specific restrictions in recent years. In 2003, the Ohio General Assembly amended the statutes to specifically provide that deed restrictions prohibiting flagpoles or the display of the American flag were invalid. In 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a public school district could not sell a vacant school building for sale with a deed restriction preventing the property to be used for school purposes, because Ohio’s public policy supports community schools.

Sellers should consider whether they should insert deed restrictions into the transfer documents, particularly in cases in which they will live nearby or gain some value from the restrictions (be it a protected view, the option to buy back the property, or some other benefit). Likewise, before purchasing property, buyers should hire a reputable company to perform a title search to make sure that they are informed about any existing deed restrictions on the property.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How To Remove a Vacated Judgment from Your Credit Report

Court judgments typically stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of filing. But what if a judgment was vacated by the court?

In an ideal situation, this vacated judgment would be automatically removed from your credit report as the credit agency collects data from the court system. Realistically, however, it may take some time for your credit report to be updated to reflect the vacated judgment, and it is wise to be proactive, particularly if you will be applying for a loan in the near future.

The first step is to obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). Reports are available for a nominal fee. Federal law also allows you to obtain one free credit report from each of the three agencies every twelve months.

Once you obtain a report, review it carefully for accuracy. Assuming the vacated judgment still appears on your report, you will have to initiate a dispute with each agency.

Each agency’s process may be slightly different, but you will need to provide each agency with a letter disputing the judgment along with the court order vacating the judgment. Depending on the agency, you may be able to submit the court order online. The dispute generally must be resolved within thirty days.