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FinCEN issues new Geographic Targeting Order expanding geographic reach to all counties in NYC

FinCEN has issued a new GTO, effective August 28, 2106 which effectively continues the requirements of the earlier Order and expands the geographic reach thereof to include the remaining four counties that comprise the City of New York, that is, Queens, Kings, Bronx and Richmond Counties.

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FinCEN Geographical Targeting Order; Effective 3.1.16

By order of the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which is a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury, certain title insurers (both direct underwriting operations and their agents), will be required to report to FinCEN certain details of residential property transactions that are consummated without the use of mortgage financing. The perception is that certain individuals may seek to “launder” funds that are accumulated through illegal activity by the purchase of high end real estate, using business entities to take title those properties, thereby concealing the beneficial ownership of the individuals (or even other entities) behind the entity that acquires title. In an effort to thwart that process, the following reporting procedure for certain transactions will become effective, on a trial basis, beginning March 1, 2016. The procedure will apply to transactions of residential properties located in New York County, NY and Miami, FL only. (for your information, the threshold for Miami-Dade County properties is $1,000,000).

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Increased Withholding Due to Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015

Pursuant to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, there will be changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Act of 1980, commonly referred to as “FIRPTA”, effective for transactions closing on or after February 16, 2016. For transactions where the seller is not exempted from the application of FIRPTA and the “amount realized”, as defined by the statute, (but generally the contract sale price), exceeds $1,000,000, the buyer is obligated to withhold and pay to the IRS, 15% of the amount realized. This increased withholding amount applies to transactions that close on or after February 16, 2016, regardless of when the contract may have been executed.

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