Case Notes in


First published: Apr 2013
Alphonso v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

We do not normally report on tax cases; however, we believe that this decision is significant. Putting aside whether Alphonso can ultimately demonstrate that the wall collapse was a “casualty,” it is important that the appeals court determined that the shareholders had a property interest in the wall and the common areas owned by the cooperative corporation such that they could take a casualty loss deduction. If it had been determined that only the co-op had a property interest, it would have left the shareholders with little comfort, as cooperative corporations themselves typically operate on a break-even basis and have little or no net income, so that the right to take a loss has no practical benefit to the co-op. The lease required tenant-shareholders to pay “cash requirements,” which included maintenance of the property owned by the co-op. It was also important that the house rules, which are incorporated into the proprietary lease and which grant shareholders their leasehold interest, specifically permitted shareholders use of the grounds. This decision may have an impact on the ability of co-op shareholders to claim losses in connection with money paid for co-op assessments for, among other expenses, hurricane-related damage.

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