Funding a Buy Sell Agreement

When business partners enter into a buy sell agreement, one of the pertinent issues or items for the partners to discuss is how the buy-out will be funded. The purchasing business entity or purchasing party can obtain the funds to purchase business interests from a variety of sources, which are discussed below.

The purchaser always has the ability of self-funding the purchase.  If the purchaser does not have the required cash to purchase the interest, issues may arise whereby the seller will request some type of security interest.  Furthermore, if the purchaser lacks the cash to purchase the interest in full and equity in assets to fully secure the seller, a seller may request the buyer obtain a life insurance policy whereby the seller or the seller’s designee is the beneficiary of the policy until the purchase terms have been complied with.

Apart from a self-funded purchase, the most common source of funds for a buy-sell agreement is insurance.  Multiple types of insurance such as life insurance or disability insurance could be used to fund the buyout of the seller’s interest.  Where the triggering event for the purchase of the applicable interest is death, life insurance on the individual can be a very clean means by which to fund the purchase.  However, what if a disability or the retirement of an individual leads to the need to purchase such individual’s ownership interest?  Under these circumstances, life insurance may not be very useful as a source for funds.  To be useful as a source of funds for a buyout, a life insurance policy may need a significant cash value.

When the buy-sell agreement is between the owners of the business, it will likely be necessary for each owner to carry insurance on the life of each of the fellow business owners.  Therefore, multiple policies may be needed if each owner is separately insured.  Further, consider how many policies may be needed if there were say 8 different partners or business owners? If a redemption agreement is used, the owners do not insure the lives of the other owners, but rather, the business must purchase a joint-life policy or separately insure the life of each owner who the business has the obligation to redeem.

The types of life insurance policies could include term life insurance, cash value life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance and survivor joint life insurance.  In regards to the need to purchase an owners interest because of a disability, the owners should consider disability insurance.  In many respects, it may be more likely for a business owner to be disabled than pass away during a time in their life when they still own the business interests and thus a purchase would be necessary.  Therefore, business owners should consider the need for disability insurance to fund a buyout, in addition to having life insurance available.

This article was written by John McGuire, a business attorney and tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm in Denver, Colorado. Please remember this article was prepared for informational purposes and you should always speak with a business attorney or other counsel to discuss your specific issues & circumstances.

Denver Business Attorney

 

 

Valuing Real Estate for an Offer in Compromise

When calculating an offer in compromise amount, one of the biggest issues is a taxpayer’s equity in assets.  If a taxpayer owns a home the equity in the home will need to be accounted for calculating the offer amount.  This brings about the pivotal question, how is real property or a home valued for the purposes of an offer in compromise with the IRS?  Unlike a bank account, stocks, bonds or other account with an easily ascertained fair market value, the value of land and/or a home is more subjective and at issue.

That being said, recently our position has to been to value the home at the most recently assessed tax assessment from the county.  Generally speaking, the Internal Revenue Service has agreed with this valuation.  If a taxpayer thinks the value of their home is less than the tax assessed value, you will want a formal appraisal conducted and you will need to show why the value is less than the tax assessed value.

If you have any questions related to a tax settlement or offer in compromise, please contact The McGuire Law Firm to speak with a tax attorney.  We offer a free consultation with a tax attorney to all potential clients.

Denver Tax Attorney

IRS Form 14654

IRS Form 14654 is used when submitting documents for the Streamlined Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.  The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to provide additional information regarding the Form.  You can contact The McGuire Law Firm to speak with a tax attorney regarding your tax matters, including foreign tax accounts and assets.

Depreciation and Impact on Basis

When an asset is placed into service and depreciation is taken as a deduction, the adjusted basis of the asset will be impacted.  The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to discuss this issue.  Please remember to always consult your tax attorney, business attorney, CPA and/or other advisers regarding your specific facts and circumstances.

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  You can contact John at 720-833-7705 or via the website at: http://jmtaxlaw.com/contact-us/

 

What is a 401(k) Deferral?

Contributions to a 401(k) are qualified deferrals.  This means that the amount should not be included in your income when calculating income tax.  You can check your W-2 and the amount of taxable wage should not include the 401(k) contributions.  The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to provide additional information regarding this matter.

Common Capital Contributions to a Partnership

When forming a partnership the partners will make initial capital contributions and may make additional contributions depending upon the operations of the partnership and partnership agreement.  Common capital contributions may include cash, property (vehicles, equipment, computers etc.) and sometimes services.

The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to discuss capital contributions.

John R. McGuire is tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  The McGuire Law Firm represents and advises clients on tax matters from IRS debts and tax audits or overall tax planning and the tax implications of certain transactions.  Further, the firm represents small and medium sized business with their contract issues as well as the formation and sale of businesses or business interests.  In addition to his law degree, John holds an advanced degree in taxation known as an LL.M.  The McGuire LAw Firm provides a free consultation with a tax attorney.

Deducting Business Expenses

Can I deduct my meals as a business expense?  Can I deduct this flight as a business expense?  Can I deduct the cost of my clothes or uniform as a business expense?  As a tax attorney, these are common questions I am asked, and rightfully so as everyone wants to take advantage of all potential deductions allowed by the Internal Revenue Code.  Not only is the deductibility of certain business expenses a hot topic with business owners, it is a hot topic and highly litigated topic with the Internal Revenue Service.  In fact, I recall reading a recent annual report to Congress by the Taxpayer Advocate Service whereby the deductibility of trade or business expenses he been one of the top ten most litigates issues for a very long time.  Furthermore, the same report stated that the courts affirmed the position taken by the Internal Revenue Service (the dissallowance 0f the deduction) in the vast majority of cases and that the taxpayer only prevailed (in full) about two-percent (2%) of the time.  The article below is not intended to be legal advice, but rather to provide general information regarding this issue.

First and foremost, we should start with the current law regarding deductions for business expenses.  Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) Section 162 allows deductions for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in a business or trade.  What actually constitutes ordinary and necessary may better be understood through an analysis of the case law, which is significant, surrounding the question.  Generally, the determination is made based upon a court’s full review of all facts and circumstances.

Based upon the black and white law under the Code, what constitutes a trade or business for purposes of Section 162.  Perhaps it is ironic that the term “trade or business” is so widely used in the Code, but yet, neither the Code nor the Treasury Regulations provide a definition for Trade or Business.  Personally, I think it would be quite hard to provide a definition for trade or business, especially under the auspices of income tax.  The concept of trade or business has been refined and defined by the courts more so than the Code.  The United States Supreme Court has held and stated that a trade or business is an activity conducted with continuity and regularity, and with the primary purpose of earning a profit.  Albeit broad, I would agree this definition would be sufficient for the majority of businesses I work and assist.

Now that we have an idea of what may constitute a trade or business, what is “ordinary and necessary?”  Again, the Supreme Court has helped provide definitions for these broad, but important terms.  Ordinary has been defined as customary or usual and of common or frequent occurrence in the trade or business.  Necessary has been defined as an expenses that is appropriate and helpful for the development of the business.  Further, it should be noted that some courts have also applied a level of reasonableness to each expense.

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm focusing his practice on issues before the IRS, tax planning & analysis and business transactions from formation to sale.

Denver Tax Attorney

Attempting to Avoid Shareholder Loan Reclassification

Many corporate shareholders may have taken a loan from their corporation.  In a prior article we discussed issues related to corporate loans and issues considered regarding the reclassification of a loan.  The article below discusses issues and actions a shareholder may consider taking to prevent the reclassification of a loan.  Please remember that this article is for informational purposes and it is recommended that you discuss any corporate loan issue directly with your tax attorney, business attorney or other advisors.

Proper recordkeeping and maintaining current promissory notes are of extreme importance regarding this issue.  The promissory notes must be kept current and reflect the payments that have actually been made by the shareholder to the corporation, the accrual of interest and other related issues in the previously executed notes.  Moreover, the approval of the loans should follow the proper approval and acceptance by the corporation’s board of directors and memorialized via the corporate minutes and other corporate memorandums.  The shareholder should also be able to verify that the interest has been paid on the note, the interest should be paid at regular intervals, and at least on an annual basis.  Contemporaneous evidence is always important when verifying loan payment and loan treatment to the Internal Revenue Service. From a tax return perspective, the corporate tax return should accurately reflect the loan on the balance sheet.

Because payment of the loan is such a vital factor, I often find it can be helpful to have multiple options or strategies for repayment.  Of course, the shareholder can make regular payments on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, but there are also other options for repayment.  If the corporation has strong earnings and profit, the shareholder could also use a distribution to pay make payment on the loan, perhaps even a lump sum payment to expedite payment on the note.  The shareholder may also be able to provide additional services to the corporation and receive bonuses for their work.  These bonuses could be paid to the shareholder and then paid to the corporation, or at least taxed to the shareholder as compensation and then reduce the amount of the note.

In short, generally the most important issues will be recordkeeping from corporate documents such as minutes, agreements and returns to the actual promissory note and making sure the shareholder is making payments with interest on the loan.

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  John assists clients with matters before the IRS, tax planning and advice, and business matters from contracts to the sale of business assets and interests.

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Loans to S Corporation Shareholder

Often times a payment or payments to S corporation shareholders will be booked or accounted for as a loan to shareholder.  Sometimes this is purposefully, other times, it may be due to lack of options.  These loans can be advantageous with the proper planning and/or under certain circumstances, but they can also create and lead to unintended and disadvantageous tax consequences.

If a loan is not being treated as a loan (documented, repayment with interest etc.) the loan can be reclassified as a distribution to the shareholder.  If the shareholder does not have enough tax basis in their stock, taxable gain will result when the loan is reclassified as a distribution.  Further, it is important to note that if a loan is reclassified as a distribution and there are multiple shareholders, the distribution could create disproportionate distributions amongst the shareholders.  Not only could the disproportionate distribution be a violation of certain law/business acts, the Internal Revenue Service could determine that the disproportionate distributions created or indicate a second class of stock.  As an S corporation, there can only be one class of stock, and thus, a second class of stock could/would result in the termination of the S corporation election, which could have ill intended tax consequences and other business consequences.

Given the above, what can be done in an attempt to prevent payments or disbursements to a shareholder from being treated as distribution, but rather a loan to the shareholder?  Generally speaking, the key is proving intent, that the disbursements were intended to be a loan or loans.  Below is a list of the issues and factors a court would likely consider when making a determination of whether or not a shareholder loan was in fact created.

  • Was the shareholder paying interest? It is also important to note, the IRS can impute interest under the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Is the amount/loan being repaid by the shareholder?
  • Is the debt evidenced by a written instrument such as a promissory note, with stated interest, payment terms & conditions and a maturity date?
  • How has the disbursement to the shareholder been recorded and reflected within the S corporation’s books
  • If the shareholder was in arrears of any payment, did the corporation attempt to enforce or require payment
  • Did the shareholder have the financial wherewithal to repay the note when the loan was provided by the corporation

Of all the above issues & factors, perhaps the most important is whether or not the shareholder was actually repaying the loan.  Courts have determined a loan existed even without documentation and promissory notes given the shareholder was making payments.

The above article has been prepared by John McGuire of The McGuire Law Firm for informational purposes.  John focuses his practice on tax matters before the IRS, advising individual & business clients on tax planning and tax related issues and business transactions from business formation and contracts to the sale of a business or business interest.

S Corporation Loan to Shareholder

IRS Audit Tip On Mileage Deduction

If you take mileage as a deduction on your income tax return, the IRS audit tip below may help you.  Many individuals will claim mileage as a non-reimbursed employee expense on Form 2106, or if self-employed, on a Schedule C, or the deduction may even be stated on another business income tax return.  Most individuals know that to substantiate the mileage deduction they need to keep a mileage log stating where they drove, the total mileage and other information such as the business purpose for the travel.  What many individuals may not be aware of is that the IRS may also request them to verify the total mileage driven on their vehicle with third party records.  This issue is discussed below in greater detail.

Recently, I was involved with an individual income tax audit with a client over multiple periods of 1040 Schedule C (self-employed) filings.  The individual drove a decent amount in their business and had taken the mileage deduction on multiple vehicles that were used for business purposes.  The individual had maintained mileage logs for each vehicle and properly claimed the deduction on their schedule C.  During the audit, the IRS examiner requested that the individual obtain maintenance records to substantiate the total miles driven in each vehicle during the year.  This request was not to produce a mileage log of business miles driven, but records from oil changes and other maintenance records to show and verify the total number of miles, personal, business and commuting, over the course of the year.  For example, the examiner wanted to see the report from Grease Monkey stating the total mileage on the vehicle and be able to track and substantiate the mileage driven to see if the business miles claimed appeared reasonable and within the total mileage driven on the vehicle.

After the above incident, it is apparent the IRS is not only requiring a mileage log, but some form of 3rd party document to verify that the miles claimed are in line with the actual miles driven.  This being said, in addition to maintaining a mileage log, it is apparent that taxpayers taking the mileage deduction would be best served by maintaining all reports and maintenance records to verify their mileage.  Remember this the next time you take your car to the shop for an oil change or any repair!  It is probably best to even make a copy of the maintenance records and maintain the document with your mileage log and other tax related documents.  Tell your mechanic to keep the receipt clean!

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  Mr. McGuire’s practice focuses on tax issues before the IRS, tax planning, business transactions and tax implications to his individual and business clients.

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