Your business is more than just a job; it’s a very personal asset and the means of providing for your family, your employees and yourself. So it’s no surprise that passing down the family business is one of the most difficult experiences you’ll encounter along the way.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools for exiting the family business, with varying degrees of complexity. Sometimes, however, a simple buy-sell arrangement is the right tool for the task.
This was the subject of a recent article in Forbes titled “Exiting The Family Business: Tax Tips And Techniques,” which included some important tax and planning pointers. At its most basic level, the simple efficiency of a buy-sell arrangement is easy to understand and appreciate. Commonly, the owner (and parent, likely) is going to need retirement income to retire. However, the family business was their only source of income and their greatest asset. As a result, selling the business within the family allows the successor generation to assume control in a way that guarantees the financial well-being of the retiring parent and the entire family.
This transfer can be accomplished with an outright sale-purchase. On the other hand, a buy-sell agreement can work the sale-purchase over time in installments. Consequently, the founder may even gift some portions away and sell others. A key point, whether gifting or selling, is having an accurate valuation of the business. If the value is too low, then the “sale” price looks more like a “gift.” Problem: if the value is deemed too low, then this catches the interest of the IRS. This never is a good thing.
A sale of anything carries with it tax implications. When it comes to selling (or gifting) a business, you will want to connect all of the dots. The original Forbes article discusses many of those dots and offers practical tax moves to stay out of trouble.
While there are significant limitations to the buy-sell and there are other alternatives to evaluate, it is one means to kill two birds with one stone by providing retirement income to the seller.
Reference: Forbes (March 6, 2013) “Exiting The Family Business: Tax Tips And Techniques”