One of the scariest nightmares business owners have is experiencing a data breach at their company. Whether a small business or a multinational corporation, no one wants their customers to think their information can’t be trusted with your business.

A data breach is the release of secure or private information to an untrusted environment. Data breaches can be intentional, like a hacker attacking the system, or unintentional, like a company employee losing his laptop.

Data breaches are costly and potentially disastrous. According to the Ponemon Institute the average cost of a data breach was $148 per record in 2017. The biggest costs are related to losing customers and it could take years to regain that trust, if regained at all.

Naturally, your best bet is to avoid a data breach by investing in strong security measures and making privacy and security core tenants of your business. This is particularly important if your business deals in sensitive information, like Social Security numbers.

If your company is the victim of a security breach, your company’s response can make a huge difference in potential losses. Read on for steps to take after a data breach.

Step One: Evaluate your legal and ethical responsibilities

Before doing anything else, take some time to evaluate your legal obligations. In the U.S. Virgin Islands businesses are required to report the security breach to customers as soon as possible, without unreasonable delay. Businesses also need to notify the software company who manages the data, if any, and local law enforcement.

Legal requirements may not be enough to restore trust with your customers. You’re required to notify customers in a timely manner, but if you want to maintain their trust you may offer free services like credit reporting for the next year.

Step Two: Thoughtfully craft your response

The Ponemon Institute study found that companies who react quickly and notify their customers immediately lose more per compromised record. This is because they often don’t have all the facts yet, so customers ask questions the company is still unable to answer. They report too many or too few customers impacted, and spend just as much time cleaning up the notification error. Make sure you have a thorough understand of the breach first.

Note that while it takes time to gather the facts, companies should still move quickly. Legal regulations are more important than public relations.

Step Three: Evaluate what went wrong, and fix it

A postmortem evaluation will help you discover what went wrong, and how it can be avoided in the future. An outside consultant is a great investment to identify exactly how the breach happened and where your company can improve.

Most data breaches occur when technology wasn’t applied properly. Businesses need to prioritize privacy and security, and ensure their employees are properly trained and understand the repercussions of failing to use secure systems.

Step Four: Keep customers informed

Your customers want to know you’re avoiding future breaches and working to keep their data safe. You don’t need to let them know all the details, but let them know you’ve invested in new tools and have developed new policies. You’ll likely still lose customers because of a data breach, but those you’ve retained or you hope to attract in the future want to know how you’ll make their private information a priority.

For more information on data security in the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact an experienced attorney today.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.





As a business owner and employer, it is crucial that you understand all the wage and hour regulations that are required in the USVI as they are significantly different than the federal overtime requirements exist so you do not infringe on your employees’ rights. One of the issues to familiarize yourself with is when you are required to pay overtime in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Here is a quick overview of when you are required to pay overtime in the USVI:

The basics

The minimum wage in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as of Feb. 2021, is $10.50/hour.

An eligible hourly employee is to be paid overtime pay, or “time-and-a-half” of their regular hourly rate, when they work in a workweek (Monday through Sunday) for all hours worked:

  • over 8 hours each day;
  • over 40 hours in any workweek;
  • or all hours worked on a 6th or 7th consecutive day (*in tourism-related industries only the 7th consecutive day is an overtime day);

-The eligible employee is to be paid whichever of the three above calculations pays the employee the highest amount.

For example, if an employee who is paid $12/hr worked 5 hours a day from Monday through Saturday, such would total 30 hours of work during a workweek. The employee did not work over eight hours a day since they worked only 5 hours a day, or over 40 hours in that workweek as they worked 30 hours in the workweek. Thus, their overtime payments for those first two scenarios are zero dollars. However, they did work a sixth consecutive day, therefore the five hours they worked that day are all overtime hours and therefore they are entitled to $18/hour in overtime pay for the five hours worked on Saturday in addition to their normal wages for the work performed Monday through Friday in that workweek. Their total gross payment for that workweek would be $390.00.

The exceptions

It is important to note there are some exceptions. Not every employee our wage earner is entitled to overtime payments. Here are just a few examples of some types of employees/wage eareners who are not entitled to overtime:

  • Independent contractors
  • FLSA-exempt executives, administrative employees and other professionals who are paid a salary rather than hourly wages (see further information below)
  • Employees of certain types of seasonal recreational businesses
  • Door to door salespeople
  • Seamen or workers in the fishing industry
  • Criminal investigators
  • Employees on small farms
  • Casual babysitters

With regard to salaried workers, generally those workers must earn at least $684 per week to be exempt, and must receive the same salary each week regardless of the total number of hours they work or the quality of the work they perform. The nature of the employee’s work must be administrative (non-manual or office work related to business operations), executive (management work) or otherwise professional (requiring advanced knowledge in a field of learning or creativity) for the employee to be exempt from overtime requirements.

For more information about your responsibility as a business owner to offer overtime pay and to whom you must pay it, contact a skilled employment lawyer in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On January 18, 2019, the United States Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations meant to address the confusion regarding whether a rental business is a “trade or business” under Internal Revenue Code Section 199A. The proposed revenue procedure provides a safe harbor election allowing rental business to be treated as a “trade or business” solely for the qualified business income deduction under Section 199A.

According to the IRS: “Section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code provides many taxpayers a deduction for qualified business income from a qualified trade or business operated directly or through a pass-through entity.”

This new deduction was added as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Pass-through entities include sole proprietorships, limited liability corporations, partnerships and S corporations. The tax for these businesses is passed through to the owner and subject to individual tax rates, which is as high as 37 percent under the TCJA. However, these business owners can now deduct up to 20 percent of their business income on their individual returns.

The IRS released Notice 2019-07 in conjunction with the final regulations offering some clarity around the safe harbor rules.

A rental business qualifies for safe harbor as long as 250 hours of rental services are performed for the business in a given time period. That time period could be: each year for tax years beginning on or before December 21, 2022, or in three of the five prior years for later tax years. Proprietors must also meet record-keeping and other procedural requirements.

The notice outlines rental services as the following:

  • Advertising to rent or lease the property
  • Negotiating and executing leases
  • Verifying information from prospective tenants
  • Collecting rent
  • Daily operation, maintenance and repair of the property
  • Real estate management
  • Purchasing materials
  • Supervising employees and independent contractors.

It is unclear whether this list is inclusive or exclusive. Arranging financing, procuring properties, reviewing financial statements, managing long-term capital improvements and traveling to and from the rental property are not considered rental services.

The notice names a wide range of persons who can perform rental services on behalf of the business, including the property owner, employees, agents and independent contractors. Property management companies should also qualify as persons who can perform rental services under this broad definition.

BoltNagi PC is a well-established and widely respected business and commercial law firm proudly serving clients in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As long as businesses continue to rely on the internet and digital technology for data storage and communication, there is going to be some risk of those systems being compromised and sensitive data being compromised. These technologies certainly aren’t going anywhere, so the onus is on business owners to do everything in their power to protect their business against these potential breaches and to keep confidential information just that—confidential.

Here are some of the steps you can take as a business owner to safeguard your private data.

  • Establish a culture of care: You must make digital security a priority in your company, and that means spreading awareness of how data breaches happen and where you might be most vulnerable. If you’re able to get your employees involved in protecting your company’s information and empower them with the tools and knowledge needed to keep that information secure, you’ll be much better off for it. Educate all your employees in the steps they can take as individuals to increase data security, such as strengthening passwords, avoiding the use of private email accounts and how to report potential threats to security.
  • Enforce strict data permissions: You should keep vital information on a “need to know” basis in your company. Only provide access to that information to people who absolutely need it for their jobs. Otherwise, the more people who have access, the easier it becomes for that data to be compromised.
  • Encrypt your data: Any sensitive information should be protected where you store it. You should use various methods of encryption to store that data as securely as possible. Text scrambling is one popular means of encryption, but there are plenty of other security methods you can use to protect your digital files and folders and even physical drives.
  • Build up your firewall: A strong firewall is one of the most important layers of protection for any network, as it prevents unauthorized access to your network and helps keep malicious software and attackers at bay. If your firewall detects programs or computers attempting to gain access to your network, it has the power to block or allow access based on the rules you’ve set for it. This means that once you’ve implemented your firewall, you must also make sure you keep up with regular updates and maintenance to ensure it will continue to be effective.
  • Strengthen login protocols: Basic password authentication is not going to do much to keep hackers away from your sensitive data. You might consider using biometrics, one-time codes, security keys or multi-factor authentication for certain types of files and systems.
  • Work with a professional: Most business owners simply do not have the knowledge or training to take full charge of their company’s digital security. If you do not have the resources to employ a full-time IT and digital security person, you should at least work with a third-party resource to manage your digital security for you as needed.

For more tips about how you can protect your business against data breaches and the steps you should take if your company does fall victim to malicious attacks on your network, contact a business attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.

When engaged in a real estate transaction, it is important for both the buyer and the seller to understand that the transaction is not final until closing. There are many events that need to occur between an accepted offer and the closing, which can give rise to numerous opportunities for the transaction to fall through.

So why exactly do real estate transactions fail? Below are a few of the most common reasons.

The buyer not being able to sell their property

In many residential transactions, the deal could fall through if the potential buyer is unable to sell their home and is therefore unable to purchase the home in question. This also happens in commercial transactions, if the buyer wishes to move offices but must sell their previous premises first. If you’re the seller in a transaction and the sale is contingent on the buyer being able to sell another property, you should know there is a greater likelihood of the sale falling through than in transactions where there is not such a contingency in place.  This can often include 1031 exchange-contingent closings.

Problems with the property inspection

Most properties should go through an inspection before the transaction proceeds. The inspection period is typically within the first week or two after the seller accepts the buyer’s offer. The inspection offers the buyer an opportunity to discover any undisclosed defects in the property, including problems with mold, pests, structural issues, property damage or roof leaks.

The seller can avoid any unpleasant surprises by having the property inspected beforehand and fixing any issues the inspector finds, helping make the property more marketable.

The buyer gets turned down by their potential lender

Not every buyer gets pre-approved by a mortgage lender before purchasing a property. Even then, having a pre-approval letter is no guarantee that the buyer will actually close on their loan. Mortgage loan rejections are among the most common reasons why real estate deals often fail to close. Changes in circumstances can prompt the bank to rescind its offer to lend, including job loss and other sudden financial hardships.

Problems with the appraisal

Real estate transactions are often contingent on a satisfactory appraisal. If there are issues with the appraisal, generally the deal will have to be modified, or the bank will likely not issue the loan. The biggest issue will be if the appraised value of the property comes under the amount of money for which the buyer is requesting a loan.  In these situations, the bank may elect to reduce the loan amount or rescind its offer to lend altogether.

For more information surrounding the causes of why real estate transactions fail, and how you can avoid these potential pitfalls, contact an experienced real estate attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

J. Nash Davis is Chair of the Real Estate & Financial Services Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

A new lawsuit filed by six residents of the Virgin Islands and Guam is challenging laws that prohibit territorial residents from voting for president and a Congressional representative with voting powers, according to a news release from the nonprofit civil rights group Equally American.

Plaintiffs in the Virgin Islands include Ravi Nagi and Laura Castillo Nagi, two attorneys who have raised their children on St. Thomas after moving there from Hawaii 15 years ago. Ravi Nagi is the co-founder of BoltNagi PC, one of the biggest law firms in the Virgin Islands. Laura Castillo Nagi’s practice focuses on family law, and she is also a wellness consultant and coach, according to the news release.

“In 2008, I met Barack Obama and supported his campaign to win the primary in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I couldn’t vote for him in the general election. Yet if I instead lived in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, or even in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, I actually would be able to vote for president by absentee ballot in my former state of Hawaii,” said Ravi Nagi. “That’s not just absurd, but I believe it is unconstitutional.”

Laura Castillo Nagi noted that her older son will soon turn 18, at which point he will have to register for selective service, making him eligible to be drafted to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“But unlike everywhere else in the United States, this [rite] of passage will not come with him being able to vote for his commander-in-chief,” she said. “If people in the Virgin Islands have the responsibilities that come with U.S. citizenship, we should also have the rights, especially the right to vote.”

According to the news release with more than 98% of the residents of U.S. territories racial or ethnic minorities, “the continued disenfranchisement of these Americans presents an important civil rights and racial justice issue.”

“The territories also have a history of service and sacrifice to the United States, with more than 100,000 veterans currently living in U.S. territories,” the release noted. “Residents of the territories pay more than $3.5 billion a year in federal taxes, but have no say in how those tax dollars are spent.”

Further, it noted that “absentee ballots have become one of the hot-button issues of the 2020 election. However, citizens who move to certain U.S. territories are treated unequally when it comes to being able to vote for president by absentee ballot.”

Under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and state overseas voting laws, former state residents who are now residents of the Northern Mariana Islands or a foreign country are able to continue voting for president and voting representation in Congress by absentee ballot in their former state of residence. But the plaintiffs — each former residents of Hawaii — have lost full enjoyment of their right to vote by virtue of living in Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the release states.

Plaintiffs in the case are represented by attorneys Pamela Colon, an attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands who was a plaintiff in a similar lawsuit, Segovia v. United States; TJ Quan, who grew up on Guam and now practices law in Hawaii; Vanessa Williams, an attorney on Guam; and a team of pro bono attorneys based in Washington, D.C., several of whom were involved in the previous Segovia litigation, according to the news release.

“I am honored to represent the plaintiffs in this important case after having served as a plaintiff myself in Segovia v. United States,” said Colon. “So long as we are required to follow federal law, we should have a say in what that federal law is. No one should be denied the right to vote for President or voting representation in Congress because of their Zip Code.”

Neil Weare is president and Founder of Equally American, which has been trying to make it possible for residents of U.S. territories to be able to vote in presidential elections.

“In a roller coaster year where the President and Congress are making life-and-death decisions related to COVID-19 and other critical issues, it is unjust and absurd that U.S. citizens in the territories have no voice in these fundamental issues simply because of where they live,” he said. “Where you live shouldn’t cost you the right to vote.”

While residents of U.S. territories can’t vote, those who move to a state can.

“There is now a territorial diaspora of than 5 million Americans living in the states who have ties to the territories, whether through family or having actually lived in a territory,” according to the news release. “This territorial diaspora may prove key in determining who wins the 2020 presidential election, with the territorial diaspora in key states like Florida and Pennsylvania greatly exceeding the margin of victory from 2016.”

According to the statement, more than 750,000 U.S. citizens of voting age with ties to the territories live in Florida; 340,000 in Pennsylvania; 75,000 in North Carolina; 70,000 in Georgia; 40,000 in Wisconsin and 30,000 in Arizona and Michigan.”

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

As the calendar year swiftly comes to an end, it’s important for businesses to not just reflect on the year that was, but also start thinking about their financial goals for the coming year. Considering you will very soon begin the formal tax preparation process, having a good idea of your financial standing and goals is an important part of being able to take advantage of certain deductions and getting your taxes done as efficiently as possible.

With this in mind, here are a few year-end tax tips we have for business owners here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • Review all financial reports: The first step you take should be to carefully analyze all financial reports you have to determine how your business performed financially this year. This information will help you set more feasible goals for the coming year and ensure all your books are currently in good standing. Have whoever does your bookkeeping or accounting run all relevant reports, and have a one-on-one meeting with them to go through these reports and analyze what they mean for your company.
  • Make purchases: If your business has any equipment or inventory needs, the end of the year is a good time to make those purchases because it will help you qualify for more business expense deductions on your taxes.
  • Income deferral: Keep in mind that any income you accrue up through December 31 will count toward income for this year. If you earn income now but are not paid for it until after January 1, that income will not count on this year’s taxes. Therefore, if you want to put off some of your tax liability, you can try to defer some payments until after the first of the year. Ask your accountant for advice about this and whether it makes sense given your business’s financial situation.
  • Make charitable contributions: Similar to how making purchases before the end of the year can give you more deduction options, so too can contributing to charity. The holiday season is a great time to make these contributions as it is, but it will also allow you to take advantage of some charitable contribution deductions on your taxes. You can donate just about any type of asset you have, not just money, and still claim a deduction based on the fair market value of what you donate.
  • Get ahead for next year: If there are some things that come up in your year-end financial analyses that you want to avoid or prepare yourself for next year, be sure to note those now and work early in the coming year on processes and strategies you can put in place to make next year’s tax preparation go that much smoother.

For more information about steps you should take before the end of the year to prepare for tax season, contact a team of corporate planning attorneys in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Adam N. Marinelli is an Associate Attorney in the Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full service business law firm serving the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Choosing the right broker to work with you on a commercial real estate deal is an important decision, one that will go a long way toward determining how smoothly your transaction will go. A professional commercial broker will help you navigate the process, cutting down on delays and expenses and helping you avoid some of the risks you might encounter if you were to attempt to go through the process on your own.

With as important of a decision as choosing a commercial real estate broker is, it is important you put the appropriate amount of time and effort into making it. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you choose a broker that best fits your needs and situation.

  • Create a list: Look around the area for commercial real estate brokers that you think are worth researching further. Only after you have a list of contenders are you able to compare their credentials against each other.
  • Look for experienced professionals: Ideally, you’re going to want to work with a broker who’s been in real estate for a while, but that they have significant experience in commercial real estate. There are quite a few brokers who occasionally move from residential to commercial to chase larger profits, but they might not have the same understanding of the details and differences of the commercial field that a person who has focused on commercial real estate for years does.
  • Determine your comfort level: Meet the broker and the broker’s staff, and gauge whether or not it feels like a group you’re comfortable working with. Are they friendly and easy to communicate with? It’s helpful to have a team that you feel like you’ll have a good working relationship with – that will make your transaction feel a lot easier.
  • Assess whether or not they’re equipped to help you: Does the broker have experience in the particular type of property you’re after? There are quite a few differences in commercial spaces. Consider how retail and office spaces differ, and all the extra factors you have to take into consideration for industrial spaces. Going along with that, does the broker have all the knowledge, information and tools necessary to give you the best service possible for your particular type of property? They should have excellent access to crucial analytical tools and market information if they’re going to get you the best results with your transaction.
  • Make sure they’re committed to your needs: You should always be sure you’re working with a broker who’s putting your needs ahead of anyone else’s, especially their own. If the broker has any sort of interest in a particular property you’re interested in, you cannot trust they are capable of putting your needs first. If the broker seems to dismiss your needs or keeps pushing you in a way you don’t want to go, you should also take that as a major red flag.

For more information about choosing an ideal commercial real estate broker for your situation, contact an experienced real estate attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.

When you think about running your business, what role do you imagine a lawyer playing? A lawyer is much more than someone who can get you out of trouble (though he or she certainly can). An excellent lawyer can become a trusted member of your business team.

Let’s explore what you need to consider when hiring a business lawyer.

Find a lawyer familiar with your industry

A lawyer who has experience – or is willing to learn – about the unique characteristics of your industry will make him or her an even better advisor. For example if you have a real estate business, finding a lawyer with real estate experience will make both your jobs easier. You may not always find a lawyer with exactly the experience in your industry, but a lawyer who is willing to learn is a great start.

Determine what type of lawyer you need

A business lawyer can help you with company formation and related tasks like contracts and partnership formation. Depending on your business you may need a lawyer who specializes in a certain kind of law. If you need help with copyright, or are looking for legal support for taxes, you may need to hire lawyers who specialize in those areas. If you retain a general business counsel, he or she can recommend when to bring in a specialist as needed.

Choose a firm that fits your company

When looking for prospective lawyers, also consider the type and size of firm. If you have a small startup, a giant firm may not be the best fit. With so many clients, your company may get lost in the shuffle. If you’re regularly engaging in complex legal matters, a solo practitioner may not have the expertise you need. It’s important to research and interview firms to find the lawyer and firm who will best support your business.

Start your relationship early

For your lawyer to be a key part of your business, you need to build a relationship. Don’t wait until you’re being sued to find a lawyer. Lawyers can help you with many tasks related to your business, including company formation, writing contracts, product liability and more. Having a lawyer on your team as you perform business-related tasks will help you avoid legal fees in the long term.

Look for a transparent fee structure

Hiring a lawyer can be a large investment. You want to ensure your hard-earned dollars aren’t being wasted on unnecessary fees. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the fee structure until you understand the cost. Agree on a structure that makes sense for the work you’ll need, whether that’s a flat fee for certain projects or an hourly rate.

Remember not all lawyers will be a good fit

As with any relationship, not everyone is a perfect match. If you already have a business lawyer but are unsatisfied with your working relationship, you have every right to look for a better fit. It’s your money and your business, and you need to make the decisions best for both.

For more information about how a business lawyer can help your company, contact a skilled business attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.

Agriculture is a small but critically important industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Agriculture is only a small portion of the territory’s gross domestic product (GDP); roughly 97 percent of our food is imported from elsewhere. This leaves the territory vulnerable to food shortages in case of any global food crisis. The government wants to fix this.

The U.S. Virgin Islands offers many financial incentives for individuals engaged in agricultural activity. These incentives are designed to protect agriculture in the territory and boost profits for farmers and other agricultural workers and business owners. Through its Economic Development Authority, the U.S. Virgin Islands encourages agricultural businesses to start, grow or relocate to the territory. The island of St. Croix is the agricultural center of the territory.

Below are some of the benefits and tax exemptions offered to agricultural businesses.

Income taxes

If you engage in agricultural activity, you qualify for a subsidy of up to 90 percent of your income tax that was derived from agriculture. If you are not otherwise disqualified under any applicable law, you may elect to have your income tax liability reduced on a current basis in an amount equal to the subsidy benefit and in lieu of such subsidy payment.

Gross receipt taxes

Revenues from tariffs from agriculture are exempt from gross receipts taxes. Anyone engaged in agriculture is exempt from paying the Government of the Virgin Islands any gross receipt taxes on sales of products derived from the agricultural activities.

Real estate ad valorem taxes

A property owner can receive a tax credit of 95 percent of the property taxes levied by the Tax Assessor against the total area of real property, including structures and improvements, used actively and solely for agricultural or horticultural purposes. Even if you don’t own the land, your improvements would only be taxable at 5 percent of the real property taxes levied by the Tax Assessor against the structures and improvements.

Excise taxes and customs duties

Any agriculture building materials, supplies, equipment and implements brought into the Virgin Islands are exempt from excise taxes. Anyone engaged in agriculture does not have to pay the government for these items if they are used for agricultural operations.

Franchise taxes and license fees

Anyone engaged in agricultural activities is exempt from paying the government any franchise taxes and license fees directly related to and arising from agriculture operations. To enjoy this benefit, you are required to pay a $1 fee to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for the purpose of doing business in the territory.

For more information about how a tax benefits agricultural business enjoy in the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact an experienced attorney today.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.