Flip Tax is a tax imposed by a cooperative (co-op) on the sale of a unit within the building. This fee can be based on a percentage of the gross sale, net sale, gain, or the number of shares held by the shareholder or a fixed number determined by the cooperative board. The flip tax can be paid by the purchaser, seller, or shared by both parties, however, custom usually dictates that the seller pay the flip tax. There are several different types of flip taxes, each with its own merits and problems. The choice you make should be the one best adapted to the needs of your building and its shareholders.
Per Share Amount. This is, of course, the most conventional and simplest type of flip tax, and one found acceptable by the Court in the FeBland case. It treats all shareholders equally by imposing a flip tax of a fixed dollar amount per share. However, this method can excessively benefit sellers who bought years ago and paid far less than the current market rate, because they would be taxed the same amount as those who bought more recently at higher prices.
Flat Fee. A second method is to charge a certain flat dollar amount per transaction (e.g., $5,000 per transfer). This method benefits the owners of larger units who pay the same amount as the seller of a studio. It can, however, be the best compromise for a building where all the apartments are relatively similar in size. This form of flip tax, if properly enacted, is also perfectly legal under the amended Section 501(c) of the Business Corporation Law.
Percentage of Sales Price. Another acceptable form of flip tax is a percentage of the gross sale price.
Percentage o f Net Profit. Perhaps the most controversial form of flip tax is one based on net profit. In this case, the cooperative must very carefully define exactly what its formula will be for determining the net profit; and the formula must be strictly and consistently applied. If your formula allows the seller to subtract from the sales price provision for improvements made to the apartment, there will be an incentive to pad costs in order to lower the net profit figure that will form the basis for the flip tax. Evidence of payment of invoices for improvements should be required.