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Will Your Co-op or Condo Lose Its Corporate Status? Because It Happens

Brooklyn, New York City

Oct. 6, 2014

"We were told that it had been revoked for years," Starkman says. "And the bank wouldn't budge. They were doing what a bank is supposed to do." Indeed, under new York State law, the deal —  any corporate deal — could not be closed.

What Happened?

The co-op board began to investigate. Its attorney, Theresa Racht, a partner at Racht & Taffae, discovered two problems, one involving an unmade biennial corporate filing and the other concerning unpaid state income taxes. In short, the corporation had been dissolved by the state for failure to file corporate tax returns and pay corporate taxes. The filing fee for the biennial corporate filing is $9. Reinstating the corporate status costs $59 (the original $9 and a $50 fine).

Racht talked with the building's manager and the accountant, and both insisted that they had fulfilled their responsibilities. Further sleuthing found that the employer identification number (EIN) on the building's tax statement did not match the EIN on its state tax forms or the biennial filing. There were apparently two entities with very similar names and EINs. At some point in the last few years, the two got switched, and the filings and taxes for Starkman's co-op were being credited to the other entity, which was inactive and not filing the statement or paying taxes.

Once the problem was defined, however, it was not very difficult to pay the $50 fine, refile the biennial statement, and then go about clearing up the mess of corporate decision-making that had occurred during the time that the co-op had unknowingly not been a corporation.

How to Prevent It

Most professionals agree it shouldn't have gotten to the point of a mortgage refinancing stalling to get the board's attention. You can protect yourself by taking two steps:

First, check that you are still corporate. Someone needs to see that the correct corporate name and the correct corporate EIN are in place. At least once every two years, a board member should verify on the Department of State website that their corporate entity is still active.

And second, check the paper trail. If you've changed managing agents, make sure any notices are being forwarded to your new manager. If they're not, you may have already dissolved — and not even know it.


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Adapted from "Brownstone Brouhaha" by Tom Soter (Habitat, October 2014)

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