Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Making the Tax Bill More Bearable When Selling a Business - Option 1

Hopefully, before selling a business, you meet with a CPA or tax accountant and get an estimate on how much of your proceeds will be going directly to Uncle Sam if you pay them in a lump sum at time of sale. You don’t want to save this surprise for after all is said and done, because not only will it most likely be a shock, but you will have given up your chance to do anything about it.

Planning is everything. For this article I will assume you are not doing a 1031 business exchange, that is selling your business and buying another similar business taking into consideration all the IRS guidelines and timelines. It’s pretty rare to see this, but it can defer all of your capital gains tax if done correctly.

Depending on how the business is sold, the gains may be taxed as long term capital gain, short term capital gain, ordinary income, etc. and if you are selling an asset in a C-Corp you may face double taxation. So, the idea is to minimize your tax bill and maximize your proceeds no matter what situation you are in.

One option is with a Self Directed Installment Sale. The structure must be in place before the buy/sell agreement is signed. The gist is to receive the sale proceeds in installments and only pay capital gains tax as you receive the income. This has the effect of allowing the majority of money you would have paid immediately in taxes to continue earning compounded interest for you for many years, thus increasing your bottom line by a significant amount.

The details are a bit too complex to fully outline in a short article, but both an LLC and a Trust are created for you and set up meet IRS criteria for favorable taxation of installment sales. Your asset gets transferred to the LLC prior to sale, and your buyer purchases from your LLC. The trust buys the shares of your LLC from you via an installment agreement and you pay taxes on your gain only as you receive the payments.

You, the seller, are able to control when the payments begin and how long they will be spread out. This allows for maximum flexibility to control your income, and plan for future tax savings as well. Since your buyer paid cash in exchange for your property, you are not dependent on them to make the installment payments and you have transferred the risk of refinance or default. This is done by using an independent third party administrator and your money is safely invested in a principle protected insurance product to be used solely for the purpose of paying the installments.

If you pass on before receiving all of the payments due, the remainder of the installment payments pass to the beneficiaries of your choice.

Seeing an example of a taxed sale vs. a Self Directed Installment Sale side by side will show you how much of a difference in overall return this strategy will provide. This can make the process of the sale more palatable and provide a dependable income stream for retirement.

For more information and to see if this is the right option for you, contact Paula Straub of Save Gains Tax LLC at 760-917-0858 (8am to 5pm PST) or email Paula at to set up a complimentary consultation.