Legal Update: Common Questions
Q. A gold buyer wants to run an ad for his business but the ad does not identify the buyer, the business, or the registration number. Is this required?

A. Persons that buy used gold typically fall under the secondhand metals dealers regulations pursuant to Chapter 598 of the Florida Statutes. Secondhand metals dealer are usually required to be registered with the Department of Revenue and the registration number must be displayed at the place of business. They also must use their own name or the registered name of their business.

While there is no specific requirement that the advertisement ID the dealer and the registration number, it would be a good idea to include this information in keeping with the spirit of the law and to lessen the chances of fraud.

Q. An individual wants to run an ad that solicits donations for a charitable trip to a theme park for the visually impaired. The ad does not reference any registration with the Division of Consumer Services; it only gives a post office box and a contact person. Is this ad legal?

A. Probably not. This ad will likely trigger the requirements of the charitable solicitations laws in Chapter 496, which impose certain registration, disclosure and record-keeping requirements on those who solicit contributions (other than for a named individual). For example, printed solicitations must contain certain statements and the charity would probably have a dedicated bank account for acceptance of the funds.

If the potential advertiser has not registered, the recommended first step would be to point him/her in the right direction - specifically, to the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Consumer Services (contact information is on the agency Web site).

If the soliciting person is operating in connection with a registered group like, say, the Lions Club, then the club is the entity that should be soliciting the donations and following the registration and other regulations.

Q. An owner of a small newspaper would like to move to S Corporation tax status. What is the general process for doing this?

A. Initially, it is noted that an S corporation is not a corporation as its name implies. Rather, an S corporation is an eligible entity that's made an election to be treated as a subchapter S corporation. So the first question that will need to be asked is whether the newspaper is currently incorporated or is it simply operating as a sole proprietorship or other non-corporate entity?

If the paper is not incorporated, before it can make the S corporation election, it should probably consider whether it makes sense to become a limited liability company or a traditional corporation. The following free citizen site may help with incorporation if needed: http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/florida/forming-corporation-florida. There are sites that provide an incorporation kit for a fee: http://www.scorporationsexplained.com/doityourself_FloridaSCorp.htm. It is advisable that the newspaper look to its accountant or tax attorney for advice in this area as well.

It appears that in Florida, a corporation initially need only file a Form 2553 to obtain "S" status. For the first year as an S corporation, it must file a portion of the Florida corporation income tax form (F01120).

Q. Can county officials refuse to release a photograph of a jail guard arrested for child pornography and on whom they have a warrant for sexual battery of a child? The newspaper is aware of the exemption on addresses and telephone numbers of law enforcement employees, etc., but asks does it apply to photographs?

A. "Photographs" of law enforcement personnel are exempt from Florida's open records law. The question here is whether the jail guard is an employee of the jail he is being held in. If he is not an employee of the jail where he is held (for example, if he is a county jail guard, but is being held in the jail of another county, or the city police jail), the photograph should be accessible unless and until the guard's employer requests that it be withheld.

Based on the description above, it sounds like the guard is being held in the jail in which he works, so the photo would be exempt. (Of course, if the paper itself photographs the guard, it can certainly use the photograph.)


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