Most owners of privately-held businesses have the majority of their wealth trapped in their illiquid business. What this means is that without a path to turn the value in your business into cash, your overall wealth will continue to stay concentrated in your ownership of your business. So the fact that your business provides for a solid income and lifestyle is separate and distinct from considering how and when you will be able to turn that illiquid wealth into cash. This newsletter is written to help owners see that a business exit plan can be a vital first step towards diversifying your overall portfolio while also protecting the wealth that resides in your illiquid, privately-held business.
Across America today there are millions of baby boomer business owners who are thinking about how they will transition the ownership of their business to someone else as they reap the rewards of a lifetime of business success. However, because most of these owners have no experience with selling a business, they do not truly know what to expect in the process. And for a transaction of this complexity and size, it is likely that what owners do not know will materially hurt them in the process of transitioning their companies.
Business owners who plan to cash in on their privately-held businesses know that they will pay a substantial amount of taxes for their transaction. In fact, the recently passed American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (or ATRA) included a number of tax increases that impact owners who are ‘cashing in’. Beyond the ATRA changes, there is also the issue of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) which imposes an additional tax of 3.8% on ‘net investment income’. Now, even though the sale of a business is likely to be characterized as ‘investment income’, it may be the case that the 3.8% tax does not apply to your exit transaction if you, the owner, are an active participant in the business being sold. This newsletter discusses these rules and how your exit transaction may or may not be subject to this additional tax.
When planning an exit from your business, it is important to know how much of what you ‘get’ for cashing in your business you will actually keep. Equally important for many owners is knowing how that wealth will transfer to their heirs and future generations whose lives will be impacted by your business success. How well you plan for all of this will have both short-term and long-term impacts on your business. And, because taxes play such a critical role in all of these assessments, it is important to understand how the recent compromised agreement in Washington, D.C. – titled the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (or ATRA) – may impact your business exit. Therefore, this newsletter covers the salient points of the new legislation that will likely impact your exit transaction and your future financial legacy.
The goal of this Exit Strategies Newsletter is to help business owners understand the costs and benefits available in either a Stock or Asset sale of their business. As with all aspects of the exit planning process, careful evaluation of the impacts your sale will have on tax exposure is crucial to a successful exit, and towards generating enough passive income from the sale to meet your needs.