Steven M. Harper practices in the areas of aviation, maritime and taxation, but he also works extensively with the international and corporate groups, having experience in cross-border transactions, entity formation, and dissolution and liquidation issues, among others. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association and Inter-American Bar Association.
His aviation and maritime work deal generally with the domestic and cross-border transfer of rights to aircraft and watercraft. Within that realm, he has represented domestic and offshore entities, high net worth individuals, financial institutions, airlines and certified repair stations in the purchase and sale, lease, finance and securitization of aircraft and watercraft ranging from large and small commercial and corporate jets, turboprops and helicopters, as well as luxury liners and motoryachts. He has also assisted his clients with issues such as, among others, complying with state sales and use tax assessment actions, placing aircraft into charter service under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, and obtaining Operations Specifications from the Federal Aviation Administration authorizing flights in domestic and international Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) airspace. In addition, he served as co-editor of the chapter entitled, “Registration of Aircraft and Mortgages: The International Conventions” in McBain and Hames, Aircraft Finance: Registration, Security and Enforcement (Thompson 2007). He has also assisted clients with the domestic and offshore registration of vessels for asset protection and tax planning purposes, and is a member of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association.
His tax work involves structuring aviation and maritime transactions in order to minimize exposure to state sales and use tax. He also advises offshore companies on structuring their U.S. operations from a tax perspective, domestic and international estate planning, and assisting domestic companies engaged in interstate and international commerce with issues pertaining to Florida sales, use and corporate income taxes. Mr. Harper has also assisted both U.S. and non-U.S. residents with the purchase and sale of U.S. real property interests in compliance with U.S. tax law. In addition, he has prepared shareholder and partnership agreements for corporations, partnerships and other entities, as well as licensing and distribution agreements.
Active in the legal community, Mr. Harper was a panelist and member of the Organizing Committee of the 3rd Annual International Business Transactions Conference held in Miami, Florida. As a panelist at this event, he spoke about the various issues that can arise when acting as U.S. coordinating counsel for cross-border transactions involving multiple foreign lawyers. He also appeared as a panelist at the 46th Annual Conference of the Inter-American Bar Association in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he spoke about Florida’s enactment of the Rules for International Commercial Arbitration, as adapted from the Unidroit Model Rules. He was appointed Vice Chair of the 2010-2011 International Business Transactions Committee of the International Law Section of The Florida Bar, was recognized by Law & Politics Magazine as a 2010 Super Lawyer in the Rising Stars division, and was named to Who’s Who Legal 2015 in the Aviation Regulatory division. In June of 2016 he was elected to the Executive Committee, and as Treasurer, of the Inter-American Bar Association.
Mr. Harper graduated from Florida International University College of Law, where he concentrated on taxation and international finance. While in law school, Mr. Harper served as Judicial Intern for Senior Judge Shelby Highsmith of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He was also replica watches elected Law Student Division Representative to the American Bar Association and served as Vice President of the Board of Advocates. He is conversant in Spanish.