Small Business Owners

Commonly Overlooked Tax Incentives for Business Owners

How entrepreneurs can use government programs to lower tax bills while creating jobs and wealth

Key Takeaways:

  • Asset- and employee-based incentives can significantly reduce federal and state tax liabilities and provide your business with enhanced cash flow for expansion or debt reduction.

  • Useful sites for federal and state credits include www.hud.gov and www.dsireusa.org.

  • Googling the phrases “GoBiz” or “Enterprise Zone” will also provide information on state-level incentives.

Now is the time of year that many business owners are starting to ask their financial advisors for help with tax planning for year-end and beyond. As many of you are aware, there are a wide variety of federal and state tax credits and other incentives that are readily available but often overlooked by businesses and their tax advisors.

Federal, state and local tax incentives
While the vast majority of tax planning efforts are focused on the timing of taxable income and tax-deductible items (temporary or timing differences), there are literally hundreds of federal tax incentives (permanent differences) that encourage owners to invest in certain equipment, hire certain types of employees, operate in certain regions or invest in certain industries.


Most of the federal incentives are statutorily defined, so taxpayers can easily access these credits and other incentives without negotiating with the federal government before becoming eligible. However, there are also a variety of grants and exemptions that may require applications or negotiations with federal agencies.

State and local incentives, however, fall into two general categories—“Pre-Qualification” programs and “Non-Pre-Qualification” programs.

Pre-qual States typically require taxpayers to apply to state agencies in advance of starting a business or prior to expanding their operations. They must also obtain approval to participate in the state program. Examples of pre-qual states include New York (Empire Program), Texas (Enterprise Zone) and California (Enterprise Program). Again, the majority of states require advance approval for their larger incentive programs.

Non-pre-qual states simply require taxpayers to meet certain statutory criteria to be eligible for the tax incentives or other financial incentives. In many cases, simply hiring employees in certain geographic regions or purchasing designated equipment (e.g., manufacturing or environmental). Florida, Utah and Arizona are examples of states that offer certain incentives covering all or significant parts of their states. But many states do not.

Among the 40 or so State Enterprise Programs, which vary in specific incentives (but which typically have hiring and equipment credits as core program benefits), roughly two-thirds are in prequalification states.

In addition to these major state incentive programs, most states (and local jurisdictions) have a healthy variety of other statutory credits and exemptions. These benefits generally apply to corporations but occasionally extend to individual taxpayers via flow-through credits from LLCs, partnerships and S corps. In the current competitive environment for attracting and retaining businesses, states and municipalities are often open to negotiating short-term and long-term income/franchise tax holidays, property tax exemptions, sales tax rebates, low-interest loans, and even land and building transfers.

Since credits claimed often have an offsetting impact on depreciation or wage deductibility (to avoid double-dipping), the net, after-tax federal benefit can often be less than the after-tax benefit for similar credits at the state level.

The moral here is “A credit is a credit,” but don’t look down your nose at state- and local-level credits. Business owners and their advisors should explore all available federal, state and local incentives because they have significant value.

Following are examples of various federal credits available for certain asset acquisitions and new hires.

Research and Experimentation Credit

IRC Section 41 provides a relatively common credit, which is a general business tax credit for companies that are incurring R&D expenses in the United States. A taxpayer is entitled to a research credit for qualifying amounts (generally W-2 amounts paid to research-focused employees and/or for certain outsourced research). The credit is generally equal to 20 percent of the amount by which the qualified research expenses exceed a specific base amount unless a simplified method is elected. Many states also have a similar credit. This credit has been placed into permanent standing for the foreseeable future.  Furthermore, the credits can now be used to offset a most taxpayer’s Alternative Minimum Tax liabilities.


Empowerment Zone Employment Credit

IRC Section 1396 provides an incentive to businesses that are located in distressed urban and rural areas in need of economic revitalization, known as empowerment zones (EZ). The credit is available to businesses located in an EZ hiring and retaining employees who also live in an EZ. Businesses are eligible for a wage credit of up to $3,000 per eligible employee. The credit amount can be as high as $3,000 (20 percent of the first $15,000) of wages paid to the employee.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
WOTC is a federal tax credit available to employers who hire and retain veterans and individuals from other target groups with significant barriers to employment. Employers generally can earn tax credits ranging from $2,400 to $9,600, depending on the classification of the employee. This credit has been extended through December 31, 2019. Therefore, employers are advised to screen and pre-certify any new qualifying employees within 28 days of hiring by filing IRS Form 8850 and ETA 9061.


Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit—Qualified Fuel Cell Vehicles

A qualified fuel cell motor vehicle is a vehicle that is propelled by power derived from one or more cells that convert chemical energy directly into electricity.

For fuel cell vehicles that weigh not more than 8,500 pounds, the base credit amount is $4,000. The amount of the credit available for heavier commercial vehicles varies from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the weight of the vehicle.

This credit applied to vehicles purchased before January 1, 2017 and placed into service in the same year.  Additional information and guidance for the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit can be found under IRC Section 30B.  Again, extension of these credits is expected.

Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Tax Credit

Code Section 30D provides a credit for Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicles, including passenger vehicles and light trucks. For vehicles acquired after December 31, 2009, the credit is $2,500 plus additional amounts for a vehicle that draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatts. The total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500. The credit begins to phase out for a manufacture’s vehicles when at least 200,000 vehicles have been sold in the United States.  A complete list of qualifying manufactures can be found on the IRS.gov website.  

Disabled Access Credit

IRC Section 44 provides a tax benefit for businesses that have employees with disabilities. This is a nonrefundable credit available for small businesses with earnings of $1 million or less and no more than 30 full-time employees that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access for persons with disabilities into the taxpayers’ facilities. The credit is 50 percent of expenditures over $250, not to exceed $10,250, for a maximum benefit of $5,000. Refer to IRS Form 8826.

Barrier Removal Tax Deduction

The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction provided by IRC Section 190 encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized.

The Medical Premium Assistance Credit

As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), companies that get their health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (through their state, not federal, exchange) may be eligible for the federal premium tax credit. This tax credit can help make purchasing health insurance coverage more affordable for low- and middle-income employees. The credit available is based on the lesser of (1) the premium for the qualified health plans in which a taxpayer or the taxpayer’s family member enrolls or (2) the excess of the adjusted monthly premium for the applicable benchmark plan over one-twelfth of the product of the taxpayer’s household income and the applicable percentage for the taxable year. See IRS Form IRC Section 36B.

The Building Rehabilitation Tax Credit

IRC Section 47(a)(1) provides the Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which offers a 10 percent credit for the rehabilitation of non-historic buildings, with an additional requirement that the building must originally have been constructed before 1936.

IRC Section 47(a)(2) provides a more valuable 20 Percent Historic Tax Credit, available for the rehabilitation of a Certified Historic Structure.

Most of these credits have their own reporting federal form; however, the credits end up flowing as a general business credit and are reported using IRS form 3800. The General Business Credit (Form 3800) is available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3800.pdf.

Virtually all these state and federal credits require a reduction in the depreciable basis of the related assets. In addition, the credits generally can be used to reduce “regular” tax to zero, but these credits are normally not allowed to reduce Tentative Minimum Tax/ Alternative Minimum Tax.

Conclusion

Business owners and their advisors who take the time to dig into these incentives for their businesses will be pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of tax and economic benefits to which they are entitled.  State and local tax authorities may offer additional incentives and exemptions.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Handling Those Difficult Conversations about Business Succession

Summer is one of the most popular times of the year for multi-generational families to get together. If you’re a member of a business family, it’s often when relatives discuss who is going to take over the family business someday. Whether at the lake cottage, the beach house or on a group trip abroad, family members are away from the daily distractions of work and home. They’re in a much better frame of mind to do some collective soul-searching.

Just don’t drop this heavy topic on an unsuspecting family member when they’re lining up a putt, hooking a fish or chasing young toddlers around who may be hungry, cranky or in need of a diaper change. It needs to be a little more deliberate than that.

According to AES Nation, there are four key steps to having a successful family succession planning meeting:

Step 1: Plan the meeting.
If you’re an owner or founder, it’s a good idea to get your thoughts together ahead of the conversation. It’s okay to jot down some notes or talking points, but you don’t need to distribute them to others or type up a formal agenda. Just broach the subject of succession planning as part of a casual conversation with your heirs. To take the edge off, many clans include fun activities around their “family meetings” such as golfing, family softball games or wine-tasting events. Just don’t make the sporting activities too competitive-- emotions may already be running high during these gatherings.

I come from a business family. I still have fond memories of sitting down together to eat blue crabs in my home state of Maryland. These bonding moments are nice on their own, and they also help promote a better meeting.

Step 2: Conduct the meeting.
I recommend holding the family meeting at a resort or a tucked-away family property so you can mitigate day-to-day distractions. It’s also a good idea to bring in an objective outside professional—say the family’s CPA—to serve as both a referee and meeting facilitator to keep the discussion on point and moving along. You can also bring in the family attorney, wealth manager, multi-family office executive, or family business consultant among others. Just make sure that person is impartial.

Step 3: Follow up actions
After the meeting, it’s very important to capture each participant’s next steps and to make sure action items don’t fall through the cracks when they get back to their day-to-day routine. Before the meeting concludes, make sure everyone goes home with a written “to do” list. That way they’re held accountable--the youngest generation can’t expect the elders to do everything for them.

Step 4: Assess the outcomes
Let’s say the topic of umbrella insurance came up at the family meeting, and everyone agreed to disclose how much coverage they had—even if they didn’t have it. To make sure the collective family assets are sufficiently protected, every head of household in the extended family should have it. It may require several follow up calls and emails to each family member to get this done. I’ve found this kind of assignment is a good litmus test for the young adults in the family to see if they’re responsible enough to take over the family business. If they can’t handle a simple task like getting their insurance coverage together, how can you expect them to be responsible enough to run a successful family business? 

My own family business story

My late father founded a successful concrete business. I worked for him every summer, and by the time I was finishing up college, I knew the concrete business wasn’t for me. I got along pretty well with my dad, and it had nothing to do with the physically demanding work or the intense Maryland heat. I just didn’t have the passion for it, and I think my dad recognized that, too. Also, before my dad started his own company, he worked for another concrete company where everyone resented the owner’s son who was brought in to run things. The son wasn’t a good manager, and the other employees didn’t respect him. Dad didn’t want to put me in the same position, and I’m thankful for that.

Research from Northwestern University finds that only one-third (30%) of family businesses make it to the second generation,  and only one in eight (13%) make it to the third generation.

Those stats seem depressing at first, but they shouldn’t surprise you. Most founders start their businesses because they’re deeply interested in their chosen industry, plus they’re very good at it, and they see a niche in the marketplace that isn’t being filled. That’s what got them excited early on—they had a vision and saw an opportunity. However, founders can’t expect their children or grandchildren to have the same skills and passion for that industry. Moreover, even if they do, the window of opportunity might no longer be there 25 to 50 years later.

North Baltimore was booming when my dad launched his business. There was a huge need for concrete. However, now it’s not growing much so it wouldn’t have been the same opportunity for me, and I would have resented being pressured into running the company in the current environment.

After college, dad always told me to work for somebody else for a couple of years and then start my own company. That’s the model he followed, and it’s exactly what I did--just not in his industry. Ultimately, I think he respected that decision. It was the best thing for his business and our family, and he continued to run business ideas past me until he passed away last February.

Four ways to exit your business

I’ve found there are four good ways to transition out of your business when the time comes. Just make sure you are 100-percent ready to exit. More on that in a minute.

1. Family transition

Before handing over the reins to your business, it’s very important to know whether any of your children have the ability--and the desire--to take it over. It’s going to take a serious conversation with your children as they get older since the thought may have never crossed their minds. Even if do seem passionate and interested in taking over, you’ll need to be brutally honest about whether or not they have the managerial skillset to be a good leader, decisionmaker and owner.

Even if all the above boxes are checked, you also need to consider the long-term viability of your business. You don’t want to transition a dying business to your kids or put them in charge of a firm that’s mired in a slow-growth or no-growth industry—like the concrete business in North Baltimore. Performing a SWOT analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats can help you get a better handle on the long-term prospects of your business.

2. Employee Transition

If your kids don’t have the chops (or desire) to own and operate your business, you could be better off transferring it to key employees. A management buyout or other transition to key employees generally involves a sale to those employees, often over time. However, an employee transition only works when you have capable and highly motivated employees interested in owning the business. Just because they’ve been there 20-plus years, doesn’t mean they’re qualified. However, if you do have the right type of successor already on your payroll, this type of transition will provide you with cash over time.

3. Third Party Sale
Selling to an outside third party—perhaps disappointing to the owner and employees--might give you the highest multiple for your business. That’s especially true if your kids or key employees are not interested in (or capable of) taking over the business. You could sell to a competitor, or to a complementary business that might gain synergies from owning your business. That being said, there is going to have to be a transition period in which the clients meet the new owners, and the new owner works with the seller. I have found that third-party sales are by far the most common in our geographic area.

4. Wind up
Winding up the business may be the option of last resort if the business depends too heavily on you for sales or operations. Alternatively, maybe the kids and employees are not practical options for a transition. Maybe you're in a dying industry, or the business is otherwise too hard to sell.

With any option, you'll want to structure the arrangement to minimize tax by using your lifetime capital gains exemption if possible-- $866,912 for 2019. It's important to note that you don't have to claim the exemption all at once - you can carry it forward

It’s never too early to start planning

Regardless of which exit strategy you choose; you need to start planning at least five years in advance.  As mentioned in my previous article, you need to get your financial and operations in order. It’s not a simple process, and it will take time. Please…don’t be a do-it-yourselfer here.

TIP: If you’re part of a family business, don’t ever use the family dinner table as a conference room. One day before my dad passed away; my teenage sons told me they didn’t want to visit their grandparents anymore. When I asked why they told me it was it was boring because all they ever did was sit around the table listening to my dad and I talk about business. Does this sound like your family?

Avoiding common succession mistakes

Here are some other errors you want to avoid when it comes to transitioning the family business:

  1. The owner isn’t ready to give up control.

  2. The owner has no ideas on how they’ll spend their time after leaving the business.

  3. The owner doesn’t agree with the children’s vision for the company.

  4. The owner doesn’t set reasonable expectations and isn’t honest about his or her concerns and fears.

  5. The owner pressures children to take over the business when the kids aren’t passionate about it.

  6. The owner rushes into the exit decision. As mentioned earlier, it takes at least five years of careful planning.

Conclusion

All families that own a business struggle with succession issues. There is no easy solution. You need to start early, feel out the children, see if they’re interested and assess the situation to see if they’re capable of taking over the reins. If they’re not, please review the other transition options outlined in this article. If you or someone close to you is wrestling with family business succession planning, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Should I set up a Traditional 401(k) for my Business?

There are several different 401(k) and IRA retirement plan options that allow for the same tax treatment as a 401(k), but each has different contribution limits and costs. The different options a business owner should consider include several different 401(k) types, the SIMPLE and SEP IRA, and defined benefit (pension) plans.

Does your business have employees?

If your business has employees, you will want to consider either a 401(k) plan or a SIMPLE IRA.  The type of 401(k) plan you choose will be determined by several factors, including cost and if you want to make employee contributions.  If you do not want to contribute towards a retirement plan for your employees, you should consider a traditional 401(k), which allows for discretionary employer contributions, subject to testing.  Businesses with more than 100 employees making over $5,000 should consider a SIMPLE 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA, because they are easier to set up than traditional 401(k)s.  Employers with less than 100 employees should consider a Safe Harbor 401(k).  If your business has no employees, move on.

Do you want to contribute more than $56,000 in a retirement account?

If you answered yes and you are an older business owner, you should consider a defined benefit pension plan, which would allow much higher contribution amounts than any 401(k).  If you plan on contributing less than $56,000 annually, move on.

Are you looking to contribute more than 25% of your net compensation?

If you are, you should consider a Solo 401(k).  This allows you to contribute up to 100% of compensation or $56,000 (plus catch-up contributions).  If you will be contributing less than 25% of your net compensation, a SEP IRA would allow the same benefits as a Solo 401(k) but with less administration costs.

To learn more about the best retirement plan options for your business, check out this flowchart.

If you would like to schedule a call see what retirement plan would be optimal for you as a business owner, please give us a call at 303-440-2906 or click here to schedule a time to speak with us.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Generous Business

How you can use your business as an engine for generosity

Key Takeaways:

  • Giving interest in a business may enable owners to double their current cash giving, while dramatically reducing their tax liability.

  • Most business owners are not aware they can give a portion of their business to charity.

  • Giving an interest in a business generally has no adverse impact on the owners’ lifestyle, cash flow or capitalization of their business.

  

Hundreds of successful business owners throughout the country are discovering unique ways to use their businesses as engines for generosity. Take the Kuipers, for example.

Bill and Katrina Kuiper own and operate a pharmaceutical distribution company. The company produced about $1 million of net profit last year and was recently valued at $10 million. The business has grown by double digits from its inception 12 years ago, and it’s expected that the company’s performance will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Kuipers are a generous family that gives approximately $100,000 annually to various charities. In addition to supporting their local church, they are actively involved in local charities that support their city’s homeless community, and they have a deep passion for combating human rights abuses globally—especially human trafficking. They also give very generously of their time.

Considering their healthy annual income, Bill and Katrina live a relatively modest lifestyle. They live exclusively on the $200,000 salary that Bill receives from the company. Because of the high growth prospects the business has enjoyed from its inception, Bill has always reinvested most of his profits in the business. However, reinvestment has limited the Kuipers’ capacity for charitable giving. They would love to give more, but they simply lack the available cash resources with which to do so. Or so they thought.

Make charitable intentions go further

A savvy advisor recently shared a strategy with the Kuipers that allows them to increase their annual giving dramatically, even doubling their current cash giving, by using their most valuable financial asset—their business.

The Kuipers’ learned that they could gift a relatively small interest in their business each year to secure the maximum charitable deduction allowed under existing tax rules. Taxpayers may generally deduct up to 50 percent of their income each year through charitable contributions. If a gift is made in the form of a noncash asset such as a business or real estate, the charitable deduction is limited to 30 percent of income.

So the Kuipers’ decided to make a charitable gift of an interest in their business equal to $300,000, 30 percent of their business’s $1 million income. Based on the value of their business, this represented a gift of a 3 percent interest ($10 million divided by $300,000).

The gift was intentionally made to a donor-advised fund for two primary reasons:

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1. Because a donor-advised fund is classified as a public charity under the tax rules, Bill and Katrina receive a full fair-market-value deduction for their gift. Had they made a gift to a private foundation, their deduction would have been limited to their income tax basis in the business—which is quite low in comparison to the value of the business.

2. The donor-advised fund provides a mechanism allowing the Kuipers to make a single charitable gift but ultimately support numerous charities, as the donor-advised fund is merely a conduit to the end charities that the Kuipers support. Once the donor-advised fund receives cash—either from annual distributions of income from the business or proceeds from an eventual sale of the business—Bill and Katrina can then grant that cash from their donor-advised fund to any number of charities that they recommend.

Because Bill and Katrina are in the highest marginal tax bracket (45.6 percent combined federal and state), their gift provided a $300,000 charitable deduction saving $136,800 in taxes. The business interest gift increased their total annual giving from 10 percent to 40 percent of their income.

However, the Kuipers had an additional 10 percent of income that could still be offset by charitable contributions. Their advisor suggested they take a portion of the income tax savings that they had just realized from the business interest gift and make an additional cash gift that would be sufficient to use their remaining 10 percent deduction capacity. So Bill and Katrina made an additional cash gift of $100,000 from the $136,800 of tax savings. The additional cash gift also provided a charitable deduction, saving $45,600 more in taxes and taking their total giving to the maximum deductible amount, 50 percent of income.

The giving strategy described above had no adverse impact on Bill and Katrina’s lifestyle or on the capitalization and cash flow needs of their business. In fact, their cash flow actually increased due to the tax savings they realized. Despite the fact that the Kuipers gave $100,000 of the tax savings to charity, at the end of the day they still had $82,400 of additional cash flow from making these gifts—$36,800 after $100,000 of the initial tax savings from the business gift was made in the form of cash, plus $45,600 in tax savings from the subsequent cash gift.

Combining a vacation and mission

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Most of the $82,400 of increased cash flow was reinvested in their business. However, they did use a portion of it to fund a two-week combined vacation and mission trip to Africa that had an unexpected, transformational impact on their lives. In addition to experiencing the beautiful sights and sounds of Africa, including an unforgettable safari, they had a unique opportunity to meet their ”adopted“ daughter, 9-year-old Christina, whom they’ve supported for years through a child sponsorship program with an international charity that combats child poverty. The Kuipers’ trip marked the first time in over 12 years that Bill had taken a full two-week reprieve from the demands of running a successful business.

Bill and Katrina are planning to continue this pattern of giving each year. Another benefit of this strategy is that their wealth, as represented by their business, will actually increase over time. That’s despite giving additional gifts in their business. Because their business is growing at double digits each year, and because they are gifting an interest in their business of only 3 percent each year, the value of their retained ownership continues to increase. At the same time, the Kuiper’s charitable giving has increased dramatically, to 50 percent from 10 percent of their income.

Conclusion

The Kuipers’ greatest joy comes from witnessing the lives that are touched and transformed by the charities with which they partner. The business-interest strategy they’ve implemented has enabled them literally to double their support for their charitable endeavors. That’s because their current cash giving has correspondingly doubled as a result of giving a portion of the tax savings generated from their business-interest gift. The Kuipers are also excited about the fact that at some point in the future, when their business is sold or liquidated, very significant additional assets will be available to support the charities they care about. This is a result they had never imagined possible until a creative advisor shared with them how their business could be a powerful engine for greater impact and generosity.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Don’t Sell Your Business

There are better options

Key Takeaways:

  • Selling your business—or selling at the wrong time—can be a big mistake that you’ll regret for a long time.

  • If you sell your business, make sure you act like a bank if you hold paper.

  • Winding down your business can be much more satisfying and profitable than selling it to a third party or an outsider.

  • Simple is often a better way to leave your business than via a complicated strategy.

We spend lots of time talking with business owners about various strategies for exiting their businesses. Too often, we find owners choose strategies that just don’t serve them well.

If you choose the wrong exit strategy, what should have been a great retirement filled with joy turns into a nightmare.

Consider this scenario.

You’ve decided to sell your business. You’ve found a business broker who finds you a buyer. There’s only one problem: Your broker tells you that the buyer wants to pay you only 40 percent up front, and you are going to need to “be the bank” and finance the rest of the purchase.

After much soul-searching, you decide to go through with the transaction. After all, you’ve worked hard your whole life, and you know that the culmination of your business career is the sale of your business.

So, you’ve sold your business. You no longer control what happens. And to make matters worse, you’ve not treated the sale the same way that a bank would.

A year goes by and you find that your payments from the buyer start arriving late. You call the buyer and he tells you that he’s lost 20 percent of your clients and, because of that, he’s having a hard time getting the cash to pay you.

You have a choice: You can take back your business (with the attendant legal hassles) or you can hope that the buyer gets the business he needs in order to pay you. Neither choice is very attractive. You don’t feel you want to rebuild your business. Instead, you just sit by and hope things don’t get worse.

Another six months pass by, but instead of your payments being late, they just stop coming entirely. Again, there is little that you can do about this. You’ve sold your business and agreed to the buyer’s terms. There is nothing in your sales agreement that allows you to take over the business immediately. You’re forced to take the seller to court to get your damaged business back.

In the time that you’re working the legal system, you learn that your buyer has not only lost the majority of your clients, he’s also damaged the business so badly that there’s nothing you can do to salvage the situation. Now the money you planned to get from your business for retirement isn’t going to be there.

What do you do now?

First, don’t do a transaction like this.

If you sell your business to someone else and you have to act as the bank for the transaction, then for goodness sake, act like a bank! This means you need to do a thorough credit review of the person or group buying your business.

If you are providing financing, make sure that you get all the guarantees up front that a bank would get. This includes making sure that your buyer provides you with a personal guarantee. Not only do you want a personal guarantee, you also want to make sure there are real assets behind the personal guarantee.

When you make it easy to walk away, you’ll find that buyers will stop paying when life gets tough … and it always gets tough. If you really want to collect all the money from your sale that you’re entitled to, then be prepared to say NO to a sale unless you get a personal guarantee and appropriate security agreements from your buyer.

Better yet, try a different way to leave your business.

Selling your business is not always the best option. We have worked with many owners using a different strategy. We call this the “wind down.” Instead of selling your business, you make your business smaller.

The wind down is very simple: You find a home for 80 percent of your clients and you keep the top 20 percent of your clients—the ones who add the most value to your business.

Remember the 80/20 rule.

The reason this strategy works so well is because of a simple truism that exists in most business. Over the time you’ve been in business, you have accumulated many accounts on your books that you wouldn’t take today.

When you first started your business, you would take any client who walked in the door, right? Twenty years later, you’re still serving that client. They take up lots of time and don’t provide much in the way of revenue. It’s really OK for you to tell them that you’re retiring and that you’re going to help them find a great new home.

If you look at your book of business and only focus on the top 20 percent of your clients, you’ll likely keep 80 percent of your revenue, remove 80 percent of your costs and make much more money working just one day a week.

Isn’t that a much better way to leave your business? There is only so much golf that you can play and there are only so many trips that you can take. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep your hand in an industry that you’ve grown to love?

You’re going to have to do a few things.

If you decide the wind down is for you, here are some things you’ll have to do to get your practice ready.

  • Find a home for the 80 percent of the clients you want to let go. Think about giving these clients away to a good home with a younger planner. You don’t need the hassle of hoping you get paid for that part of your business and it’s more important to find these clients a good home than it is for you to be paid for the referral.

  • You’ll need to find a way to service the clients you do keep. If you jettison 80 percent of your business, you’re not going to need the staff that you presently have. You won’t want to keep your back office intact. There are many professional service firms that would be more than happy to take over your back office for a relatively small fee.

  • Have a disaster plan in place. As you age, you’re going to want to continue to decrease the number of clients you serve. There’s even a possibility that before you wind down your business completely, a health issue could keep you from serving even the small group of clients you’ve retained. Have a plan in place for reassigning your clients if you can’t serve them anymore.

It’s really not very hard.

Unless you really hate the business you’re in and the business is based on you, a wind down is a much more profitable and satisfying way to leave your business. Setting up a business to pursue a wind-down strategy has fewer moving parts and is much easier than trying to sell your business to a third party. We’re always in favor of the simple solution and hope you are too.

What do you think? Are you willing to give the wind down a shot?

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Second Generation Owners Are Often Different from Founders

Smart business families recognize this and adjust their vision accordingly

Key Takeaways:

  • Founding business owners and their children often have differing management styles, communication styles and expectations.

  • Founders appreciate directness and simple solutions.

  • Founders’ children often need more sophisticated solutions in which emotional considerations are as important as the financial ones.


Most business owners I know fall into one of two camps—first generation business owners or later generation business owners. Business families and their advisors who don’t take the time to understand the differing management styles, communication styles and expectations often run into trouble down the road.

Starting a business is incredibly demanding

Starting a business is hard work. Many founders work for years—and against all odds—to create a business that succeeds. Ask any successful business owner who has been around for a decade or two—they’ve experienced countless ups and downs. Often the downs have put the owners on the brink of losing their business. But they never give up!

To make it through the challenging times, entrepreneurs have to be very tough and resilient. They will tell you exactly what they think. They don’t pull punches and expect you to do the same.


First-generation business owners have a thick skin

The good part about first-generation business owners is that you can say almost anything to them as long as you do so with respect. But you’d better be direct and avoid legalese, MBA-speak and fancy marketing terms. If you don’t, you probably won’t be taken seriously.

Second and third generation owners tend to take a more nuanced view of the business. They’re more open to outside ideas than founders tend to be. However, Next Gen owners often make the mistake of thinking that founders will take their advice and implement it without knowing how the advice fits in with the business’s long-term or even short-term goals. If you don’t spend time understanding what drives founders, there’s a good chance they’ll just ignore you or cut you off mid-sentence.

Sure, many founders are gruff. But don’t walk on eggshells around them. To gain the trust of founders, you must get right to the point. If you’re able to do this, working with founders becomes much easier and more enjoyable.

First generation owners aren’t only tough at the workplace

The drive, resiliency and thick skin that it takes to start and build a business is one of brutal honesty. If you’re not brutally honest with yourself, it’s too easy to find excuses for things not working out.

In my experience, first-generation business owners aren’t only tough at work; they’re very tough at home. First-generation owners tend to be tough on their children. Tough love rather than unconditional love is more often their style. The children of business founders often feel they are under the thumb of their parents. This is especially true if children of founders decide to join their parents in the family business.

Second-generation owners are a different story
For their first 25 or 30 years of life, founders’ children will tell you they heard nothing but criticism from parents who had no patience for their mistakes and no tolerance for excuses. There’s something to be said about the value of tough love when so much of parenting today borders on coddling and “helicoptering.” But, this often leaves founders’ children feeling inadequate, with a strong need to prove themselves.

When founders’ children finally get a chance to run the family business, they often have no patience for founders and other advisors telling them where they’re wrong. Instead, they expect their employees, customers, clients and advisors to tell them how wonderful they are and how brilliant their ideas are.

A successful relationship with second-generation owners often means being a cheerleader instead of a true thinking partner. Although second-generation owners start their business careers with a huge advantage over where their parents started, they often struggle to maintain its success, much less take it to the next level. Without accepting honest feedback, it’s just too easy for second-generation owners to take the company in directions that hurt more than help.


The conundrum of second-generation owners

On the flip side, working with second-generation owners can be fun if they’re willing to be coached. You need to feed them ideas in the form of questions and let them adapt your ideas as your own if needed. Don’t force your ideas down their throats, or you’ll just get pushback.


Well-educated second-generation owners may want to use advisors and consultants with prestigious academic degrees and career credentials—people that founders would never consider bringing in. On the surface, it may seem like second generation owners are injecting unnecessary complexity into the business, but it’s best to let NextGen figure that out on their own. As a founder, you can suggest some ways in which simpler is usually better, but don’t try to override the process.

Being blunt with second and third generation owners generally won’t work. You must remember where they came from. It’s not necessarily coddling, but you have to be open to the possibility that there could be a better way of doing things.

Conclusion

One final caveat—generalizations are often wrong. I’ve encountered more than a few (first-generation) founders who are open to new ideas, outside expertise and a more collaborative work environment. Likewise, I’ve worked with many founders’ children who are gruff, relentless and think only one ways of doing things—their way—is right. Be aware of generational predispositions and try to leverage the strengths of each generation’s work habits and management style. Your customers and clients will thank you, and family gatherings around the dinner table will be a lot less stressful.

Feel free to contact me any time if your family or a close friend or relative’s family is considering a leadership change in the family business.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

How Smart Business Owners Plan for their Golden Years

Know the power of retirement plans

Key Takeaways:

  • Most business owners are not going to retire solely on the proceeds from the sale of their business.

  • You need to get up to speed on different types of retirement plans.

  • Business owns are interested in how much money they can save--not what’s a fair plan.



Most business owners have a dream. It’s to build a successful business, sell it for a zillion dollars and ride off into the sunset. The sad fact is that for the vast majority of business owners, this is just a pipe dream. In most cases, business owners will get less than 50 percent of their retirement income from the proceeds of the sale of their business—if they’re fortunate enough to sell it.

Many business owners have spoken with various advisors about diversification. Too often I see advisors warn owners how unsafe it is for the owner to have all of his or her assets tied up in the business. This conversation has merit, of course.

But, the conversation that resonates more is when I help owners understand that they won’t be able to leave their business if they think the business will provide all of their retirement income. This conversation always gets traction. If your client owns a business and employs fewer than 25 people, it’s very easy to design a retirement program that is almost irresistible for the owner.

It’s all about what the owner can get

The first rule of retirement plan design is understanding that it’s all about what you, the owner, can put in your pocket. Most owners I know are also happy to include their employees when it makes economic sense to do so.

Let’s assume you are in a 38 percent marginal tax bracket, as are most successful small-business owners. If that’s true, your plan only needs to cost less than 38 percent for the employees before it’ll make economic sense for you.

For example, if you want to maximize a 401(k) and profit-sharing plan, you will be able to defer $56,000 per year (for 2019). If the employee cost is less than $40,320, then the employer comes out ahead. The reason? If your client wants to save $56,000 in a taxable account, the tax cost would be $43,320.

When I’ve asked business owners if they’d rather give the government $40,320 or give their employees $40,320 while saving $56,000, it’s an easy answer. One hundred percent of the time the business owners will say they would rather give the money to their employees than to the government.

The proper question to ask


Now that you’ve seen the power of a qualified retirement plan, you need to figure out how much you will save. The proper question here is, “Since you have no limits on how much you can save, how much do you want to put in your plan every year?”

As advisors, we too often decide for our clients how much they can or should save. This is actually a question that YOU should answer. If you are over 50 years old and have a company that employs fewer than 25 people, it’s easy to design a plan in which you can save $200,000 per year in your account—or more. I’ve rarely met a business owner who wants—or could afford—to save more than that in a qualified account.

Four power options for business owners

Here are four plans that I’ve discovered business owners find interesting:

1. Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan—This is the simplest of all plans. It requires an equal contribution for all employees based on their salary. For tax year 2019, the owner can defer a maximum of $56,000 in this plan. From a tax/employee deferral analysis, it’s hard to make a SEP work with more than ten employees.

A SEP requires that you put the same amount of money away for each employee as a percentage of their salary. This will often cause the amount put away for employees to be larger than the owner’s deferral amount. Once a company reaches ten employees we start to look at 401(k) plans and profit-sharing plans as being more cost-effective for owner retirement savings.

2. 401(k) plan—This plan is best for owners who want to save up to $25,000 per year in their account. You will want to provide a safe-harbor plan for this account. This allows the owner to defer the maximum contribution with no plan testing.

3. Cross-tested profit sharing/401(k) plan—This plan uses age and salary as a method for putting together contribution amounts. The owner can defer up to $56,000 per year. Using a combination of a maximum 401(k) deferral and profit-sharing plan, the cost for all employees is often less than the tax breakeven point.

4. Cash balance—profit-sharing/401(k) plan—Say your owner wants to defer more than $56,000 per year and can reliably do so for at least five years. You can now consider a hybrid plan that combines a cash balance defined benefit plan with a cross-tested profit-sharing plan. Most owners will be able to defer over $200,000 per year, with a significantly lower amount for the employees.  This plan is the secret sauce for an owner who has not saved enough for retirement and has excess cash flow while running their business with little prospects for a great sale when they’re ready to transition their business.

Don’t forget your spouse

In many cases, the spouse of the company’s owner might be on the company’s payroll, too. If your spouse is over 50 years old, he or she can defer up to $25,000 in the company’s 401(k) plan. This brings a simple deferral to $81,000 for the owner of the company and their spouse.

If the owner’s spouse is not on the payroll, it’s pretty easy to justify adding the spouse to the plan for the amount that would be needed for the 401(k) deferral.

Conclusion

A financial plan is a crucial part of the private business planning process. I often do a rough plan on a legal pad to illustrate the problem the business owner has. I call it the four boxes of financial independence. Once I’ve gotten the attention of the owner we will then move to a formal financial plan.

I want to make sure you are moving in a direction that will get you to financial independence. A simple plan will help both of us understand that we’re making a wise decision. Please don’t hesitate to contact me any time to discuss.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Buy-Sell Agreements

How smart business owners take good care of their business for the long-term

 Key Takeaways

  •  The majority of business owners don’t have succession plans in place.

  • A buy-sell agreement stipulates how a partner's share of a business may be reassigned if that partner dies, becomes disabled or otherwise leaves the business.

  • Key person life insurance (aka Key Man) covers the cost of finding a replacement for the loss of a vital owner of team member.

  • When it comes to succession planning, don’t be a do-it-yourselfer.

 

By Robert Pyle

Business owners are highly driven people. But, a downside to that entrepreneurial passion is that they spend so much time IN their businesses that they have no time to spend ON their businesses. Succession planning is one critical area that often gets overlooked.

According to PWC’s 2019 family business survey, three out of four business owners don’t have documented succession plans in place. I suspect that number is even higher. Even more alarming: over half of U.S. business owners today are over age 50.

If you don’t have a succession plan in place—or if it’s been years since you updated your plan—don’t keep procrastinating. The world moves fast and doesn’t wait around for you to get all your succession planning ducks in a row. Changes in ownership happen every day in all types of businesses for all types of reasons: Death, retirement, disability, divorce, voluntary and involuntary termination of employment; lawsuits, financial and economic setbacks, bankruptcy, selling and gifting interests, just to name a few.  These disruptions often result in: Collateral damage to customer, supplier, banking and employee relationships as well as to long term company goodwill.

Fortunately, most of the painful issues above can be avoided by having a well drafted “buy-sell agreement” in place right from Day One. That’s when all of the owners are still in the “honeymoon” stage and when relations are most amicable. However, it is never too late to put a buy-sell agreement in place. Honesty and open communication are the key to making by-sell agreements work.

What is a buy-sell agreement?

Also known as  a buyout agreement, a business will or a business prenup, a buy-sell agreement is a legally binding contract that stipulates how a partner's share of a business may be reassigned if that partner dies, becomes disabled or otherwise leaves the business. Most often, the buy-sell agreement stipulates that the remaining shares of the business should be sold to the other partners or to the partnership itself.

Buy-sell agreements are typically funded by life insurance that protect the business if an owner dies. That way the owner’s spouse or family doesn’t have to step in and take over the business—something they likely have no experience running. If you’re an owner and you don’t have other owners, a mature child or close relative capable of running your business, then a buy-sell agreement can be used to set up a formal agreement to sell the company to a competitor or to a private equity group at a predetermined price when you leave.

Buy-sell agreements can take many forms (more on that in a minute). What they have in common is that owner(s) agree well in advance to the terms of a potential business at some point in the future. This way, an owner’s family doesn’t have to sell under duress should something unfortunate happened to the owner.


Getting started: Document everything!

One of the first things we advise business owners to do after they start working with us is to document every bill that comes in, as well as how they received the bill (email or paper, etc.), how they paid it (check, bill pay or credit card) and when that service or software contract ends. As an owner, you need to document how all the money flows through your accounts and how you pay all your bills for your house and other personal expenses.

Very important: If you own a sole proprietorship, make sure your spouse knows your master password. If you’re part of a partnership or multi-owner business, make that at least one of the other principals knows your master password. All businesses, regardless of size, need a Plan B in case something happens to the one person who pays all the bills and who understands all the contracts that keep the business running. Also, it’s very important to update all your documentation every year or so--it’s not a one-and-done exercise.

Before you get started, seek out attorneys or CPAs who specialize in succession planning or a business broker who might know somebody who has expertise in succession planning. Some CPAs even have an ABV® credential (Accredited in Business Valuation).


Key person life insurance

The death of a key employee or team member can potentially sink your business if you’re not protected. Key person life insurance (aka Key Man life insurance) provides funds for a business when a key person dies. This type of policy helps address the financial losses that can occur when a key person in the business passes away and money from the policy can be used to find a replacement for the key person or to train someone to take the place of the key person who died or otherwise left the business.

Under most plans, the company purchases a life insurance policy on the key people and the company pays the premiums on the policy. If the key person passes away, then the proceeds from the policy are payable to the company. Determining the amount of life insurance to purchase can be challenging. You could use the cost of replacement, a multiple of compensation or a contribution to profits method. Again, don’t try to do this yourself. Consult with a life insurance specialist that works with business owners. If you would like a referral to professionals who can help, please let us know.

Don’t think you’re big enough for a Buy Sell Agreement? Think again

You may think your business is too young or too small to need a sophisticated transition agreement. Just understand this: If you’re business is too large for your spouse or outside family members to take over, then you need a buy-sell agreement. If the business is your family’s only source of income, then you need a buy-sell agreement. If your business is potentially “sellable”—i.e. it has recurring revenue in the form of contracts or agreements with customers/clients that pay you on a regular basis--you need a buy-sell agreement.

Most common types of buy-sell agreements

1. Cross Purchase Agreement. Each co-owner agrees to purchase the equity from the estate of the co-owner that passed away. The sales price is agreed upon in advance and life insurance is used to fund this type of plan. Each co-owner has separate polices on each of the other co-owners and they each pay the premiums.

2. Entity redemption arrangement. In this type of agreement, the business (not the individual owners) takes out life insurance policies on the co-owners and the business pays the premiums. When a co-owner passes away, the company can then purchase that owner’s equity with the life insurance proceeds.

3. Hybrid plan. Under this plan, the business has the first option to purchase the equity of the co-owner that passed away. If the business does not elect to purchase the late co-owner’s equity, then the remaining co-owners have the option of purchasing the deceased owner’s equity.

If you don’t have a child or key employee(s) to assume ownership of the business, you can sell to a business consolidator in your niche. You could also have an agreement with a competitor to buy your business at a pre-determined price.   There are many other types of buy-sell agreements which I’ll discuss in a future article. Regardless of which structure you choose, make sure you have something in the agreement ties the sales price to the business’s revenue or profit. That way the predetermined sales price can be adjusted fairly if the business grows (or declines) substantially between the time the agreement was made and when it is actually sold.


Update regularly

Like your estate plan, you also want to have a business valuation every three or four years. In addition to CPAs, check with the trade associations or professional societies in your business. They can be great resources for finding business valuation professionals that specialize in your niche.

Cautionary tale

If selling to an outside owner or a competitor, you may get a nice offer for your business in the form of an installment sale rather than the one-time purchase. A typical scenario for an installment sale of a $1 million business is 30 percent ($300,000) paid to the owner upon closing and the remaining $700,000 paid over five years ($140,000, plus interest). If you’re the owner, you could potentially pay less in taxes when you close and theoretically earn more money when the interest payments are factored in (please consult with your tax professional). However, there is also more risk involved in an installment sale than a one-time transaction. The buyer could run into hard times, the economy could go in the tank, and the new owner might be unable to make the payments to you each year, leaving you out in the cold.

You should thoroughly investigate you buyer and to make sure they are qualified. This could involve an expensive background check. As the seller, you will need a larger emergency fund on hand in case the buyer is late on the payments or worse, defaults. You want to ensure there is a good transition after the sale and that your clients are comfortable with the new owner.  If not, there is always an outside chance that you will have to take over the business and go back to work.


Conclusion

Succession planning can get overwhelming quickly for time-pressed business owners. It takes coordination with the other owners and with specialized legal, accounting and financial advisors to make sure you’re doing everything right. Then you need to check every few years to make sure the agreement is still valid and reflective of the business today. If nothing else, avoid the two most common but dangerous mistakes that business owners make: Procrastinating and being a do-it-yourselfer. You’ve worked too hard to build your business to throw your employees and family into a bad situation. If you or someone close to you has concerns about an eventual business transition, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

How Children Successfully Join Family Businesses

7 key considerations

Key Takeaways:

  • Have a family business constitution in place before your children join your business.

  • Make sure you allow your child to make and learn from their mistakes.

  • Have your child successfully work outside your business before letting them start work at your company.

  • Have someone besides you supervise and manage your children when they work for your business.

You have worked very hard to build a successful business. The dream has been to have children join you and continue the legacy that the founder started.

But, before you get excited, stop and think.  For many entrepreneurs, having children join their business is a true joy.  For others their children are an albatross. They wonder why they ever thought it was a good idea to have their children work in their business, much less take it over.

If you are thinking about having children join your business, here are some important considerations:

1. Make sure the next generation is competent.

You don’t want to be in a position in which you have to tell your own child that they can’t stay with the business.  Too often parents let their children join the business only to discover that their children add zero value to the enterprise—and sometimes even subtract value.

A business is not a place where you provide social welfare for a child.  Next Gen must be able to add to the value that the business provides to its clients and customers.

2. Make sure the next owners (your children) have experienced life outside of your business.

The best way to ensure that your child is competent is to make sure they’ve worked successfully outside of your company.  You don’t want to have your child join your company as their first “real” job.

One of the most important rules you can adopt in your business is to require your child to earn at least one promotion while working outside the family company.  This way, someone else can handle their early career training and make an objective decision about how competent the child is.

3. Have a real job for your child.

After your child has proven him or herself outside your business, you’re in a better position to have them join your company. But, suppose you don’t have a job that fits their skills and experience?

This is not the time for you to make up a job for them.  Make sure your child holds on to the outside job until you truly have a job that fits their skill set.

When it’s time to bring a child into your business, make sure they’re not joining  at a level higher than the job they had outside your company. You never want to have to tell a child that they aren’t unwelcome in the family business after an unsuccessful debut.

4. Think about your compensation policy for your children well in advance.

Too often I see children overpaid or underpaid. Either way it’s a big mistake. Make sure you have a firm salary policy in place. If you do, it’s important that you pay children comparably to what non-family members earn for similar jobs.

If your children are overpaid, then non-family employees will find out and they’ll resent it.  If your child is underpaid, he or she will find out and resent you for it. You’ll have some uncomfortable family dinners as well.

5. Never have your children report directly to you.

Part of supervising an employee is correcting his or her behavior and work. This is not something you want to do with your child.  Let’s face it; you have a history with your child around discipline and it’s often not a very positive one.

Even though you have policies that work well for non-family members, it’s rare that those policies work for family members when they’re coming from a parent.  When a non-family member supervises your children, you’ll likely avoid hard feelings that result from having to reprimand a child for their workplace behavior or performance.

6. Remember, Next Gen will run your business differently than you did.

I’m hoping that you successfully integrate your child into the business. Now it’s time for you to transfer real responsibility to your child. Just know that your child is going to approach problems and opportunities differently than you do.  This means their approach to solving these issues will also be different, and in many cases, better than how you would do it.

You’re going to want to look at the results your child’s methods produce.  You need to let your child make mistakes and you need to be there to help them learn from those mistakes. 

Think about how you learned on the job.  I bet you made plenty of mistakes along the way.

7. Successful transitions come with a process.

I like to see family businesses develop what I call a “family constitution” for joining the family enterprise.  Your family constitution doesn’t have to be complicated.  In fact, it can be as simple as the bullet point list below:

  • Have your child achieve a certain level of education.

  • Have children work outside the family business for at least two years.

  • Make sure your child has earned at least one promotion from a non-family business before joining yours.

  • Don’t start your child in the family business at a level higher than they had at their last non-family business.

  • Pay your child at the same scale that you would pay a non-family member for a comparable job.

  • Have your child’s direct supervisor be someone who is not in your family, especially you.

  • Have a system in place for accepting and learning from your child’s mistakes.

  • Let your child do things their way once they have proven themselves-- unless their idea will truly put your business at high risk.

Conclusion

I’m hoping that you’ve successfully brought your child into your business.  Years will have passed and you know that it’s time for you to let go and have your child take over. This will be a challenging time for you.  You’re going to need to learn how to let go.  You’re going to need to find a compelling next chapter in your life.  You’re going to have to let your child be his or her own person.

Successfully transitioning your child can be an incredibly satisfying experience.  Have a system and stick with it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Exit Planning for Business Owners

You’ve poured your blood, sweat, tears (and personal savings) into building a successful business. Congrats! You are considered a leader in your community, and you enjoy a sense of personal achievement that no corporate, government or non-profit employee could ever have. But there comes a time when taking some chips off the table—if not all of them—starts to sound appealing.

Most folks imagine you are quite wealthy by now but are you? Sure, you skimped on salary in the early years and didn’t put as much into your retirement account as you could have. But that shortfall will come back to you in spades after you sell, right?

With a median sale price of $225,000 for business, one can infer that only a small fraction of small business owners can cash out with enough money, so they never have to work again.

In fact, more than one-third of business owners (34%) have no retirement savings plan according to Manta, an online resource for small businesses owners. According to Manta data, many owners don’t feel they make enough money from their business to save for retirement. Others feel the need to tap all their savings to keep funding the business and don’t have enough left over to put toward retirement. More concerning, almost one in five owners told Manta they plan on using the expected proceeds from selling their business to retire on.

Supercharge your retirement savings especially if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s.

At a minimum, you should set up a 401(k) plan. If the plan is a “safe harbor” plan, then you should be able to contribute the maximum $19,000 a year to your 401(k)--$25,000 per year if you’re over age 50.  (A Safe Harbor 401k plan allows employers to provide a plan to its employees and avoid the annual testing to make sure the plan passes nondiscrimination rules. In this type of plan, employers contribute a minimum required amount to the employees to avoid testing. A non-safe harbor plan involves expensive annual compliance testing.)

Typically, if you make an additional profit-sharing contribution to employees, you should be able to max out at $56,000 a year, or $62,000 if over age 50. If this is still not enough to put you on track for your retirement goals, you can start a cash balance plan and contribute up to $200,000 a year or more to your retirement savings, but this requires an even larger employee contribution. See my article about Cash Balance Plans.

The exit planning process starts 3-5 years out

Rare is the owner who receives a buyout offer out of the blue that’s simply too generous to pass up.
You don’t just wake up one day and decide to sell. You don’t just pace a “for sale” sign on the door outside your offices and expect buyers to line up. It’s going to take some planning and spit and polishing beforehand….just like selling a house or a car. Research shows most owners don’t come close to getting an offer that’s commensurate with what they think the value of their business is. In fact, surveys indicate that one of the biggest deal breakers for prospective buyers of a business is the sloppy record keeping of the owner. It is critical to keep great financial records, so the buyer knows what they are purchasing. In addition, you should have audited financial records.

An AES Nation survey of 107 corporate attorneys three fourth (77%) of them said failing to prepare companies financially was a common or very common problem for business owners. AES Nation says that the three most important ways owners can prepare for a sale are:

1. Improving the balance sheet. This means being more effective with cash management and receivables and getting rid of non-performing assets.

2. Addressing the cost of funds. This means getting the right loan covenants and maximizing working capital.

3. Getting audited financial statements. This reduces the likelihood that you, the entrepreneur, will have liabilities after the sales closes.

I recently gave a presentation to a group of CPAs, and they told me one horror story after another about business owner clients who try to sell their businesses without telling their CPA beforehand. Even worse, the CPA doesn’t hear about the planned sale until the frantic owner calls with a last-minute question on the way to the closing. That is NOT the time to ask your CPA questions or to seek advice. You really need a professional team to strategize with before the sale. I’ll talk more about the kinds of specialists you need in a minute.


Preparing your business for sale—don’t wait until the last minute

In addition to getting your cash flow and financial statements in order, it’s very important to manage your human capital, too. Nearly three fourths (72%) of lawyers surveyed by AES Nation said it was very common for owners to forget to prepare their key personnel for the transition to new ownership. Your key employees are among the most valuable assets you can offer to new ownership. Make sure you have employment contracts in place that incentivize key personnel to stay with the company. You also need non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.

According, to Sheryl Brake, CPA/CGMA, CVA, CEPA of Encompass Transition Solutions, LLC, “The biggest mistake that business owners make when planning to sell their business is not beginning the process early enough.  The ideal time to start the process is 3 to 5 years before they actually want to transition out of their business. Beginning the process early gives the owner ample time to educate themselves, identify their options, and prepare the business for sale so that they maximize the value of the business and exit the business on their terms and their timeline.”

 

Avoid seller’s remorse

According to AES Nation, approximately half of business owners are unhappy after the sale of the company. To maximize the value of your business, you must improve the balance sheet, address the cost of funds, enhance the profits and make yourself “operationally irrelevant.”

One of the best books on business operations is called The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. This book walks you through the steps from starting a business, growing a business and running a mature business. Until you can take a three-week vacation from the business and still have the enterprise run smoothly without you, all you really have is a demanding job. You don’t have a great business.


Don’t give your windfall to Uncle Sam


Selling a business is not all about getting the best price. It’s about maximizing the amount of money you and your family pocket after the sale is completed and what you do with that wealth—including planning the next chapter in your life.

According to an AES Nation, about 85 percent of business owners have not taken steps to mitigate taxes before the sale of a company. One way to lower your tax hit after selling is to utilize a “freezing trust.” This is a trust that passes on the value of your business to your children or grandchildren free of estate tax. I can tell you more about this technique when we meet.

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The general idea of a freezing trust is to gift some of your company stock to a trust and to sell more of the stock to the trust for a promissory note. When you gift the company stock to the trust and sell the company stock to the trust for a promissory note, you are getting the assets and future appreciation out of your taxable estate. When you sell the company, the value of the shares in the trust escapes estate taxes.

Your life v2.0

One of the hardest parts of retirement is deciding how to spend your time in your post-working retire. It’s even harder for successful business owners whose personal identify, values and reason for getting up in the morning is so intertwined with the business. Again, this process must start three to five years (not months) before you plan to sell. Some owners retire completely. Others stay on with the business in an advisory capacity. Others go back to work in another position—some even start a brand-new venture.

Don’t be a DIY when it comes to your exit

While it’s hard for many entrepreneurs to think they can’t sell their own business—who else knows it better? —countless studies show this is not a good idea. Selling a business successfully requires special skill sets that even your CPA and attorney often won’t have, let alone you.

You need a strong team including a CPA with experience in business transactions and possibly an investment banker. According to an AES Nation survey of corporate attorneys, nearly 92 percent strongly recommend using an investment banker if your business is valued between $1 and $10 million and almost all surveyed attorneys recommend using an investment bank if your business was valued at over $10 million. In fact, nearly half of surveyed attorneys (41.1%) recommended using an investment banker even if your business is valued at less than $1 million.

Conclusion

If you or someone close to you is considering selling their business, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Home Office Deductions

“Safe harbor” option may be easier, but number crunching is still worth it for many

 

Key Takeaways:

  • The IRS simplified option for home office deductions five years ago and million or taxpayers are taking advantage. Just be careful if you do.

  • This option can significantly reduce paperwork.

  • However, the annual limit is $1,500, and those with higher home office expenses may still be better off slogging through the detailed Form 8829.



According to the IRS, more than 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions totaling just over $9.6 billion for business use of a home, commonly referred to as the “home office deduction.”

Introduced in tax year 2013, the optional deduction is designed to reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden for small businesses. The optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet.

Back in 2013, the IRS announced a new, simplified method for claiming home office deductions. According to the IRS, this safe harbor method is an alternative to the existing requirement of calculation, allocation and substantiation of actual expenses, including mortgage payments and depreciation that is done in Form 8829.

Moreover, there is an annual limitation of $1,500 under this new method, thus making this a viable option for those with offices in apartments or smaller homes. Still, there is merit to understanding this option now and evaluating the best course for your business deductions.

Which method is best for me?

Before we look at the new option, let’s run through the existing method. The existing method involves several steps before you can arrive at the total for a home office deduction.

Step 1: Figure the percentage of your home used for business
Divide the total square footage of your home that you use for business by the square footage of your entire house. That percentage is what you’ll need for Step 3 below.

Step 2: Sum up all the expenses
This step involves the most paperwork. You need to list the various expenses such as rent and utilities or—in the case of ownership—mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities and the big one—depreciation. Lines 36 to 41 on Form 8829 involve going back and forth between the instructions several times to arrive at appropriate depreciation numbers.

Step 3: Apply the percentage from Step 1 to Step 2
You will use the percentage from Step 1 to figure the business part of the expenses for operating your entire home.

Now the new safe harbor option lets you claim a flat deduction of $5 per square foot of the home office, up to 300 square feet. That means if you use this method and have a home office of more than 300 square feet, you will be able to claim a maximum deduction of $1,500.

Some of the benefits of this method are:

  • You drastically reduce paperwork and compliance burden.

  • If you itemize deductions and use the safe harbor method, those expenses related to your home, such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes, can be itemized without allocating them between personal and business expenses.

  • You can choose either method from year to year depending on which one is beneficial in a particular year. A change from using the safe harbor method in one year to actual expenses in a succeeding taxable year or vice versa is not a change in your method of accounting and does not require the consent of the IRS.

Some of the limitations of this method are:

  • You are limited to claiming $1,500 per year irrespective of actual expenses incurred on the home office.

  • If you have a loss and cannot claim the entire deduction of $1,500 in a year, you cannot carry forward the home office expense to the following year. This would be possible if you claim actual expenses. Moreover, if you choose the safe harbor method, you cannot set off office expense carried forward from an earlier year.


The definition of what qualifies as a home office has not changed. In short, the home office

  • Must be used as your principal place of business.

  • It must be used “regularly and exclusively” for business

  • It cannot double as a place that you use for business as well as for personal purposes.

If you’re a professional, you may face various scenarios. You might be working from home for the most part of your practice, or you might be working from an office location but sometimes doing work at home. Each scenario is dealt with differently from a home office deduction point of view.

  • Home as your principal place of business: If you work from home for the most part of your business or practice, that is, you perform all important activities at this place and spend relatively more time there, then your home would be your principal place of business. In such a case, you can claim a deduction for the portion of your home that you use regularly and exclusively for your business.

  • Business at office location while doing some work at home: If you have separate office premises for conducting your business, then that would be your principal place of business. You cannot claim a deduction for use of your home during weekends or after office hours.

However, there is an important exception for professionals who also use their home for client meetings.

If you meet or deal with clients or customers in your home in the normal course of your business, even though you also carry on business at another location, you can deduct your expenses for the part of your home used exclusively and regularly for business if you meet both of these tests:

  • You physically meet with patients, clients or customers on your premises.

  • Their use of your home is substantial and integral to the conduct of your business.

The part of your home that you use exclusively and regularly to meet clients or customers does not have to be your principal place of business. Using your home for occasional meetings and telephone calls will not qualify you to deduct expenses for the business use of your home.

You and your tax advisor can make a decision regarding which method to choose, depending on a few pointers:

  • Do a back-of-the-envelope calculation of your home office expenses under both methods. Calculate the deduction under the safe harbor method by multiplying the area of your home office by $5 (limited to $1,500). If that is significantly less than the amount you claimed as a deduction in your most recent tax return, it might make sense to go through the trouble of filling out Form 8829.

  • If you have a loss from your business and would like to carry forward the home office expense, choose the actual expense method. If you have home office expenses from an earlier year that you would like to set off, use the actual expense method.

Conclusion

Claiming home office deductions is widely believed to be a common cause for an IRS audit. At the same time, genuine use of your home for business purposes can hand you a valuable deduction. The new method can significantly reduce paperwork and compliance burden for those with small home offices. But those with bigger spaces may want to choose the actual expense method. Cumbersome as it may seem, it might well be worth the effort.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily express the views of our firm and should not be construed as professional tax advice.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Buy-Sell Agreements

20-plus issues for every closely held business owner to consider


Key Takeaways:

  • Buy-sell agreements come in three basic forms but must be individually tailored to suit the specific needs of your business.

  • Make sure the agreement meets your ongoing needs, including tax, retirement, insurance and funding issues.

  • Without appropriate “exit” plans in place, ownership changes can be worse than Hollywood divorces—bitter, expensive and devastating to all involved.



Almost all owners of closely held businesses put all of their time, effort and money into launching and growing their businesses. Tragically, they put little effort into protecting what they have built from devastation caused by one or more of the owners leaving the business. Without an appropriate “exit” plan in place, changes in business ownership can be worse than a Hollywood divorce—bitter, expensive and devastating to all involved.

Don’t be fooled! Changes in ownership happen every day in all types of businesses for a multitude of reasons: death, retirement, disability, divorce, voluntary and involuntary termination of employment, lawsuits, financial and economic setbacks, bankruptcy, and selling and gifting interests, just to name a few. The disruptions caused by these events usually result in severe financial consequences for everyone involved, including collateral damage to customer, supplier, banking and employee relationships as well as to long-term company goodwill.

Consider a buy-sell agreement from Day One


Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that most, if not all, of the aforementioned problems can be avoided by putting a well-drafted buy-sell agreement in place right from the start. That’s when all the owners are still in the “honeymoon” stage of the business and relations are most amicable. However, it is never too late to put a buy-sell agreement in place, and some honest thought and open communication will strengthen and protect the business and bring peace of mind to everyone involved. Remember, ownership changes are bound to happen, but having a plan in place to deal with those changes will always smooth out the road ahead.

Next steps


Now that you are convinced that a buy-sell plan is critical for the health and well-being of both the business and the individual business owners, where do you go from here? First, consult with an experienced business lawyer who can walk you through the process and help craft a plan that fits the specific needs of both the business and the individual owners. Second, understand that no two agreements are ever the same, although they generally fall into one of three categories:

1.      Cross-Purchase Agreements, which can be ideal for a business with a small number of owners. When a triggering event occurs, the remaining owners directly purchase the departing owner’s interests in the business.

2.      Stock Redemption Agreements, which can be simpler and easier to structure. Generally they can be better-suited for entities with more owners. With these types of agreements the entity purchases the ownership interests of the departing owner. The remaining owners receive an increase in the value of their interests, not in the number of interests they own.

3.      Hybrid Agreements, which are a combination of cross-purchase agreements and redemption agreements. Generally the entity has the obligation to redeem the interest of the departing owner, but the remaining owners have the option of directly purchasing the departing owner’s interests if the entity is unwilling or unable to do so.

In order to determine which type of agreement will best suit your needs, consider the following issues:

  1. How many owners does the business have today and will have in the future?

  2. Is the business family-owned or are third parties involved?

  3. What type of business is involved, and are there specific issues that need to be addressed relating to the entity’s business, such as professional licensing or trade issues?

  4. What is the legal structure of the business: corporation, S corporation, partnership, limited liability company?

  5. What is the age and health status of each business owner?

  6. Is each of the owners insurable?

  7. What percentage of the business does each owner hold?

  8. What is the value of the business, and how is that value determined?

  9. What are the tax implications of each type of agreement?

  10. What are the transfer implications of each type of agreement?

  11. What restrictions will be put on the transfer of interests?

  12. Will the interests be subject to rights of first refusal?

  13. How will the business be valued and the purchase price determined? How often will the business be revalued? Will the interests be valued differently depending on the specific transfer event?

  14. Will there be penalty provisions for violating the terms of the agreements and/or conduct damaging the business?

  15. How will the transfer of interests be funded? Will insurance such as life insurance and disability insurance be mandated, and if so, how will premiums be paid?

  16. How will the transfers be paid, all upfront or over time? If the payments are over time, what are the terms and the arrangements to secure payment?

  17. Is the agreement aligned with other important legal documents such as the entity organizational documents, employment agreements, business agreements and contracts, banking agreements, and the estate planning documents of the individual owners?

  18. Coordinate the agreement with related property that may be owned by each of the business owners. Examples include affiliated businesses, insurance policies, land and personal property, intellectual property, and leases.

  19. How will termination of the business be handled?

  20. How often will the agreement be reviewed? Doing so annually is a good idea.

  21. How will disputes related to the agreement be handled—litigation, mediation or arbitration?

The foregoing is not a complete checklist of every issue that needs to be considered, but it will give you a good platform to begin discussions between you and your legal counsel.

Conclusion


First, properly structured buy-sell agreements are critical to the survival of any closely held business; they are not an option. Second, these agreements must be tailored to the specific needs of the business. One size doesn’t fit all. Finally, businesses and relationships constantly change; consequently, buy-sell agreements must be reviewed and updated regularly. An out-of-date agreement is next to worthless.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.



Using Office Antiques to Boost Net Worth, Cash and Aesthetics

Just make sure you know the rules before claiming tax deductions for fair business use

Key Takeaways:

  • Antiques can generally be expensed and deducted when a small business owner uses them to conduct business and subjects them to wear and tear.

  • Because antiques typically appreciate over time, while non-antique versions of the same asset diminish in value, owning antiques can significantly increase your net worth.

  • All kinds of antiques can be used as business equipment and furniture, including cabinets, bookcases, rugs, conference tables, paperweights, clocks, cars and musical instruments.

  • However, Plain Jane versions of those same items may not be deductible, even if you paid top dollar for them.


What did the small business owner do wrong?

Ned Worth, an avid antique collector, is sorely tempted to bid $5,000 for an 18th-century Chippendale piece and use it as his office desk. But, alas, Ned needs to depreciate and expense his office desk for tax-deduction benefits. So he doesn’t bid. Ned winces when the auctioneer’s hammer comes down. The next day he spends $5,000 on a pedestrian desk from Office Depot-- the same $5,000 that he would have spent at auction.

What did Ned do wrong?

Answer: Ned could have deducted and expensed the antique desk. He’d have gotten the same tax deductions and Section 179 expensing benefits with either desk. But while the Plain Jane desk will decline in value over time, the Chippendale desk will increase. By not buying the Chippendale desk, Ned now has three strikes against him:

  • Strike 1: Doesn’t result in increased tax deductions;

  • Strike 2: Takes a chunk of money out of his pocket; and

  • Strike 3: Makes him sad.

Grab some pine, Ned, yer’ out!

Deductibility of office antiques

Desks are among the many antiques that small business owners can actually use to carry out their businesses. But what you may not be aware of is that these antique desks may be just as deductible as are desks that are not antiques.

Historically, the IRS has taken the position that antique desks and other business furnishings and equipment are not eligible for Section 179 expensing and/or depreciation. Why? Because they don’t have a determinable useful life. The IRS still feels that way, or so they said many years ago. But a number of federal courts have overruled the IRS.

The Liddle and Simon cases

Let’s go back to 1984 when a professional violinist named Brian Liddle walked into a Philadelphia antique shop and purchased for $28,000 a 17th-century bass violin made by the famous Italian craftsman Francesco Ruggieri. Mr. Liddle didn’t simply display his Ruggieri. He played it during performances.

Over time, the violin began to wear down. When the neck of the violin began pulling away from its body, Liddle had the instrument repaired by expert artisans. Alas, the Ruggieri never did recover its “voice.” So, in 1991, Liddle traded it for an 18th-century bass with an appraised value of $65,000.

On his 1987 tax return, Liddle had claimed a $3,170 depreciation deduction on the Ruggieri under the Accelerated Cost Recovery System (ACRS), as per IRC 168. The IRS denied the deduction and Liddle appealed.

While all of this was going on in Philadelphia, an eerily parallel series of events was unfolding up the New Jersey Turnpike in New York City. Richard Simon, a violinist for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, purchased a pair of 19th-century French Tourte bows with an appraised value of $35,000 and $25,000, respectively.

Like Liddle, Simon actually used his bows to perform. And like Liddle’s Ruggieri, Simon’s Tourte bows began to wear out. Although “played out” musically, the bows appreciated in value on the antique market during the time Simon owned them, just as Liddle’s Ruggieri had appreciated despite losing its musical “voice.”

On his income tax return, Simon claimed ACRS depreciation deductions of $6,300 on one bow and $4,515 on the other. The IRS said “no.” The Liddle case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; the Simon case went to the Second Circuit. The courts treated them as companion cases and issued one ruling covering both.

In both cases, the IRS claimed the instruments weren’t depreciable because they actually increased in value over the time they were used. But previous court cases allowing depreciation deductions on assets that had appreciated in market value forced the IRS to back down from that argument.

So the IRS argued that the instruments were “works of art” that didn’t have a determinable life and thus couldn’t be depreciated. In fact, the IRS’s determinable life theory disallowing depreciation of antiques had been the law of the land until 1981.

Unfortunately for the IRS, things had changed since then. In 1981, Congress enacted a law called the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA) allowing for ACRS depreciation of business assets. As both federal courts noted, the purpose of ERTA and ACRS was to stimulate investment by making the rules governing deductions for depreciation of business assets easier for taxpayers to understand and apply. Accordingly, ERTA was meant to de-emphasize the complicated concept of determinable life. Assets would qualify for ACRS depreciation, the courts explained, as long as they were actually used in a trade or business and had suffered wear and tear.

Liddle’s Ruggieri violin and Simon’s Tourte bows met both tests, the courts reasoned. The taxpayers didn’t treat the instruments as mere show pieces or collector’s items; they actually used them as tools to earn their livelihood. And such use caused the instruments to wear down. In this way, the antiques were considered the same as any other business asset that wears down as a result of use.

Bottom line: Liddle’s antique violin and Simon’s bows were business assets subject to ACRS depreciation.

Current law on deducting and expensing antiques

According to the Liddle and Simon cases, antiques can be expensed and deducted under two conditions:

  • The taxpayer physically use them to conduct business; and

  • Such business use subjects the antique to wear and tear.

The risk of IRS opposition…

Caveat: In 1996—just a year after the cases were decided—the IRS issued a formal non-acquiescence, stating that it believed the cases “were wrongly decided” and that “the issue should be pursued in other circuits.” ACRS was meant to accelerate depreciation, not convert assets that weren’t previously depreciable, the notice argues.

...And why you shouldn’t worry about it

This may sound ominous, but there are good reasons not to allow the risk of IRS denial to scare you expensing and deducting antiques you use for business purposes.

First, the Liddle and Simon cases are binding in the states of the circuits where the cases took place, including:

  • The Second Circuit, which includes New York, Vermont and Connecticut; and

  • The Third Circuit, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.

Further, very few, if any, cases have been reported in which the IRS has actually challenged Liddle and Simon and gone after a taxpayer for deducting and expensing an antique since the IRS issued its non-acquiescence way back in 1996.

Conclusion

Long story short, you can deduct and expense your antique office furnishings and equipment as long as they actually use them for business purposes and subject them to wear and tear.



Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

Don’t Sell Your Business--Downsize It

Key Takeaways:

  • You don’t have to sell your business all at once.

  • You can keep 80 percent of your income and work one day a week.

  • You will end up with a lot more money at the end of 5 to 10 years.

  • You will be working only with clients and customers that you enjoy and value.

    

Succession planning is a hot topic today. The problem is that the only solution in most cases is either to sell or close your business. But, I want you to consider another option for the business you’ve worked so hard to build: the “wind-down strategy.” With a wind-down strategy, you essentially downsize your business.

How great would it be if you could keep your finger on the pulse of your business while reducing the amount of time you actually work by 80 percent or more! Just one important caveat: The wind-down strategy works best for professional service firms, but elements of this concept can work for all types of businesses.


Focus on the best 20 percent of your customers or clients


The first step is to take is look at your book of business. Who are you best 20 percent of customers or clients? This doesn’t necessarily have to be your largest clients, but many of the larger clients tend to be your best clients, too. After you put your list together, add up how much of your firm’s revenue these top clients account for. If you’re like most firms, it will be at least 80 percent of the total revenue.

If you are servicing 100 clients that produce $750,000 per year in revenue, then your wind-down will probably account for $600,000 in annual revenue. Think about this for a second. Eighty percent or more of your revenue probably comes from a very small group of clients or customers. How great would it be to spend your day taking care of only your best and most profitable clients?

It’s not a dream.

Put together a pro forma statement of what your downsized firm would look like


Now look at your business and see which types of expenses would remain if there were only 20 clients to service instead of 100. I bet you would cut a huge chunk of the costs out.

Overhead would go way down, as would the hassle of trying to take care of 80 so-so clients. You no longer have to put in 60-hour workweeks. Now you can work 10 or 15 hours and make a greater profit with 20 clients than you used to make with 100. That means you can take weeks of vacation at a time. Having a smaller business or practice allows you to do other things while keeping the lion’s share of the income from the former business or practice.

Compare this to selling


Let’s say you find a 10 to 15 hour-workweek attractive. Who wouldn’t? If this became your reality, guess what? You might not be so anxious to unload your business.

Let’s say you could sell your business for $1 million to a buyer that agreed to put 40 percent down in cash and would finance the remaining $600,000.

Don’t you think you would enjoy having something fulfilling to do one day per week? Suppose you could take home $400,000 per year instead of hoping you might get paid the money you’re “owed” from the complete sale of your business?

Let’s think about this for a second. You can earn $400,000 in cash and then hopefully the remaining $600,000 over seven or eight years with a lot of risk involved. Or, you can get $400,000 per year for as long as you want--with almost no risk. How? The wind-down should produce about $400,000 per year in profits. That means the business would take in $800,000, have $400,000 in costs and leave $400,000 for salary and profits. Remember, there are only 15 or 20 clients left to worry about. That means you’ll have little or no administrative costs. You could even find an outsourced solution for your administrative and overhead help

Isn’t getting $400,000 per year for working 10 to 15 hours a week an attractive idea?

Find a new home for the lower 80 percent


Of course, you need to figure out what to do with your B and C list--the remaining 80 percent of customers or clients who have relied on you for advice for years? Some of them may have started with you when you first opened your business. Can you just stop servicing them?

No. You’re not going to neglect them. You are going to find a good new home for them at another well-suited firm. And, you’ll do the right thing by offering to backstop those transferred customers or clients if there’s a problem at their new firm.

Over time, reduce the 20 percent


If you adopt this 20/80 wind-down strategy, you are likely to continue working way past normal retirement age. When you reach 70, you might want to work even less than the 10 to 15 hours per week that you’re working now.

Not a problem. Just follow the same winnowing down process. From your Top 20 percent list, be willing to let go of a few more clients—perhaps they’re on you’re A-List, but not the A+ List.  Find a good new home for them. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you have just five very, very good customers or clients. You love them and they love you.

The key here is to understand how your overhead works. Instead of having full-time staff, your business will be moving to part-time staff. You might even be able to find another similar business that’s willing to let you operate under their roof if you help them pay for their overhead.

If you do this, not only have you reduced the amount of time you must spend working,  but you’ve eliminated staffing and other fixed overhead.

Conclusion

Let’s say you only use this wind-down strategy for 10 years, starting in your late 50s or age 60. Instead of selling your business and hopefully getting $1 million over seven years, you’re going to earn $4 million over 10 years while working part-time.

What’s not to like? If you have any questions, please feel free to email us or give us a call at 303-440-2906.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Is a Cash Balance Plan Right for You? Part 2

Real world examples and risk factors to consider
Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA

As we discussed in Part 1, if you’re a high-earning business owner or professional Cash Balance Plans (CBPs) are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg in the last stretch of your career. They can possibly enable you to retire even sooner than you thought you could. Here are some examples of how CBPs can work for you:


Real world examples

I just completed a proposal for a dentist who earned a $224,000 salary. At that income level, he could have maxed out his annual SEP contribution at $56,000…..or he could sock away $143,000 a year via a CBP. Even better, the CBP enabled him to make an additional retirement contributions for her staff.  When times are flush, most high-earning entrepreneurs and professionals don’t have to think twice about making their CBP contributions. But, what about when the financial markets and economy are in the tank?

Back in 2008, at the start of the global financial crisis, a couple came to me because they wanted to save the maximum before they planned to stop working. The wife was a corporate executive and the husband was a self-employed entrepreneur.  Both were in their early 60s and wanted to retire in half a dozen years. The corporate executive was already saving the maximum in her 401(k) and continued to do so from 2008 ($20,500) through 2014 ($23,500). The self-employed entrepreneur, age 61 at the time, was making about $200,000 a year and wanted to set up a plan to shelter his self-employed income.

We explored a defined benefit plan (DB) because that allowed the couple to save significantly more than they could have saved via a 401(k) alone. In fact, the single 401(k) could be paired with the defined benefit plan for extra deferral, if desired. The couple was a good fit for a defined benefit plan since they were in their early 60s, and the entrepreneur was self-employed and had no employees. We completed the paperwork and set a target contribution rate of $100,000 per year for the defined benefit plan and they were off and saving. 

Despite the terrible stock market at the start of their savings initiative, they managed to contribute $700,000 to the DB by the time they retired in 2014--all of which was tax deductible. This strategy ended up saving them about $140,000 in taxes. They also contributed to a Roth 401(k) in the early years of their savings commitment, when the market was low and that money grew tax-free.

With a DBP, you typically want to have a conservative portfolio with a target rate of return pegged at roughly 3 percent to 5 percent. You want stable returns so you will have predictable contribution amounts each year. The portfolio we constructed was roughly 75 percent bond funds and 25 percent stock funds. That allocation helped the couple preserve capital during the market slump of 2008-2009 because we dollar cost averaged the funding for the plan over its duration.

With this strategy, you don’t want to exceed a 5-percent return by too much because your contribution decreases and thus, your tax deduction decreases. On the other hand, if the portfolio generates a really poor return, then you, the employer have to make up a larger contribution. If you have a substandard return, it typically corresponds to a weak economy and you have to make up a larger contribution when your income is off. So, you want to set the return target at a reasonable, conservative level.

Solution

We rolled over the DBP into an IRA and the Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA. For the corporate executive, we rolled over her 401(k) to an IRA.  They were now set for retirement and can continue to enjoy life without the worry as to how to create their retirement paycheck. 

Are there any income and age limits for contributing to a CBP?

Income limits are $280,000 a year in W-2 income. Depending on your age, you could potentially contribute over 90 percent of that income into a CBP.

Source, The Retirement Advantage  2019 | Click here for complete table


For successful professionals, a good time to set up a CBP is during your prime earning years, typically between age 50 and 60. You certainly don’t want to wait until age 70 to start a CBP because you want to be able to make large tax-advantage contribution for at least three to five years. You can’t start a CBP and then shut it down after only one year.

We did a proposal for an orthodontist recently who liked the idea of a CBP for himself, but he also wanted to reward several long time employees. Unfortunately, the ratios weren’t as good as we would have liked since many of the employees were even older than the owner, so they would have required a much larger contribution. The ratio in this case was 80 percent of the contribution to the owner and 20 percent to the employees. We like to see the ratio in the 85- to 90-percent range, however.

Age gap matters

It’s also helpful to have a significant age gap between you and your employees. Many folks don’t realize this. CBPs are “age weighted,” so it helps to have younger employees. Because those employees are older, they’re much closer to retirement, and would need to receive a larger contribution from the plan.

How profitable does your business/practice need to be for a CBP to make sense?

You have to pay yourself a reasonable W-2 salary and you have to have money on top of that for the CBP. A good rule of thumb is to be making at least $150,000 a year consistently from your business or practice. So, if you designed a plan to save $150,000 in the CBP, you’ll need $300,000 in salary plus distributions. What typically happens is the doctor/dentist pays themselves $150,000 a year in salary and then takes $150,000 in distributions from their corporation. Well, that $150,000 now has to go into the CBP, so you have to have a decent amount of disposable income.

Can employees adjust their contributions?
 
A CBP is usually paired with a 401(k) plan, so employees will have their normal 401(k) limits. In a CBP, the employer has to do a CBP “pay credit” as well as a profit-sharing contribution. The pay credit is usually about 3 percent and the profit-sharing contribution is typically in the range of 5-percent to 10- percent of an employee’s pay.


Setting up and administrating a CBP

You want a plan administrator who can navigate all the paperwork and coordinate with your CPA. There are many financial advisors out there who have expertise in setting up CBPs. You don’t have to work with someone locally; just make sure they are highly experienced and reputable.

CBPs can be more costly to employers than 401(k) plans because an actuary must certify each year that the plan is properly funded. Typical costs include $2,000 to $5,000 in setup fees, although setup costs can sometimes be waived. You’re also looking at $2,000 to $10,000 in annual administration fees, and investment-management fees ranging from 0.25 percent to 1 percent of assets.


Risks

CBPs can be tremendously beneficial for retirement saving. Just make sure you and your advisors are aware of the risk of such plans. Remember that you (the owner/employer) bear the actuarial risk for the CBP. Another risk is if the experts of your plan--the actuaries, record-keepers or investment managers—fail to live up to the plan’s expectations. You, the employer ultimately bear responsibility for providing the promised benefit to employees if a key piece of the plan doesn't work. Like a DBP, an underfunded CBP plan requires steady and consistent payments by you, the employer, regardless of economic times or your financial health. The required contributions of a DBP and CBP can strain the weakened financial health of the sponsoring organization. This is a key item to consider when establishing a CBP and what level of funding can be sustained on a go-forward basis. 

Conclusion

If you’re behind in your retirement savings, CBPs are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg and can possibly allow you to retire even sooner than you thought. They take a little more set-up and discipline to execute, but once those supercharged retirement account statements start rolling in, I rarely find a successful owner or professional who doesn’t think the extra effort was worth it.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 


Is a Cash Balance Plan Right for You? Part 1

Key questions to consider before pulling the trigger

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA


You’ve worked incredibly hard to build your business, medical practice or law practice. But, despite enjoying a robust income and the material trappings of success, many business owners and professional are surprised to learn that their retirement savings are way behind where they need to be if they want to continue living the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

In response, many self-employed high earners are increasingly turning to Cash Balance Plans (CBPs) in the latter stages of their careers to dramatically supplement their 401(k)s—and their staffs’ 401(k)s as well. Think of a CBP as a supercharged (and tax advantaged) retirement catchup program. For a 55-year-old, the CBP contribution limit is around $265,000, while for a 65-year-old, the CBP limit is $333,000—more than five times the ($62,000) limit they could contribute to a 401(k) this year.

Boomers who are sole proprietors or partners in medical, legal and other professional groups account for much of the growth in CBPs. For many older business owners, the tax advantages that come with plowing six-figure annual contributions into the CBPs far outweigh the costs.


As I wrote in my earlier article: CBPs: Offering a Break to Successful Doctors, Dentists and Small Business Owners, CBPs can offer tremendous benefits for business owners and professionals who own their own practices….especially if they’re in the latter stages of their careers. There are just some important caveats to consider before taking this aggressive retirement catchup plunge.


CBPs benefit your employees as well


Business owners should expect to make profit sharing contributions for rank-and-file employees amounting to roughly 5 percent to 8 percent of pay in a CBP. Compare that to the 3 percent contribution that's typical in a 401(k) plan. Participant accounts also receive an annual "interest credit," which may be a fixed rate, such as 3-5 percent, or a variable rate, such as the 30-year Treasury rate. At retirement, participants can take an annuity based on their account balance. Many plans also offer a lump sum that can be rolled into an IRA or another employer's plan.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful doctors


Three things are pretty common:

1) They’re not saving enough for retirement.

2) They’re overconfident. Because of their wealth and intellect, doctors get invited to participate in many “special investment opportunities.” They tend to investment in private placements, real estate and other complex, high-risk opportunities without doing their homework.
3) They feel pressure to live the successful doctor’s lifestyle. After years of schooling and residency, they often feel pressure to spend lavishly on high-end cars, homes, private schools, country clubs and vacations to keep up with other doctors. There’s also pressure to keep a spouse happy who has patiently waited and sometimes supported them, for years and years of medical school, residency and further training before the high income years began.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful dentists


Dentists are similar to doctors when it comes to their money (see above), although dentists tend to be a bit more conservative in their investments. They’re not as likely to invest in private placements and real estate ventures for instance. Like doctors, dentists are often unaware of how nicely CBPs can set them up in their post-practicing years. They’re often not aware that they have retirement savings options beyond their 401(k)…$19,000 ($25,000 if age 50 and over). For instance, many dentists don’t realize that with a CBP they could potentially contribute $200,000 or more. It’s very important for high earning business owners and medical professionals to coordinate with their CPA who really understands how CBPs work and can sign off on them.

Common objections to setting up a CBP

First, the high earning professional or business owner must commit to saving a large chunk of their earnings for three to five years—that means having the discipline not to spend all of their disposable income on other things such as expensive toys, memberships, vacations and other luxuries.

Another barrier they face is a reluctance to switch from the old way of doing things to the new way. Just like many struggle to adapt to a new billing system or new technology for their businesses or practices, the same goes for their retirement savings. Because they’re essentially playing retirement catchup, they’re committing to stashing away a significant portion of their salary for their golden years. It can “pinch” a little at first. By contrast, a 401(k) or Simple IRA  contribution is a paycheck “deduction” that they barely notice.

A CBP certainly has huge benefits, but it requires a different mindset about savings and it requires more administration and discipline, etc. However, if you have a good, trustworthy office administrator or if you have a 401(k) plan that’s integrated with your payroll, then that can make things much easier. It’s very important to have a system that integrates payroll, 401(k) and CBP. That can simplify things tremendously. For example, 401(k) contributions can be taken directly out of payroll and CBP contributions can be taken directly out of the owner/employer’s bank account.

Before jumping headfirst into the world of CBPs, I recommend that high earning business owners and professional rolling it out in stages over time.

1. Start with a SIMPLE IRA.
2. Then move to 401(k) plan that you can max out--and make employee contributions.

3. Add a profit sharing component for employees which typically is in the 2% range and this will usually allow you to max out at $56,000 (under 50) or $62,000 (age 50 and over)
4.  Once comfortable with the mechanics of a 401(k) and profit sharing, then introduce a CBP.


Conclusion

If you’re behind in your retirement savings, CBPs are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg and can possibly allow you to retire even sooner than you thought. CBPs take a little more set-up and discipline to execute, but once those supercharged retirement account statements start rolling in, I rarely find a successful owner or professional who doesn’t think the extra effort was worth it.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 


Smarter Business Exit Strategies

Too many business succession plans don’t work out as planned, but smart owners can get back on track and stay that way for the long-term.


Key Takeaways:

  • Most business owners create unnecessary risks for their families, employees and clients by failing to fund business succession plans.

  • Every business owner should establish a clear vision for his or her transition and look for ways to improve after-tax returns.

  • Business owners can reduce the costs of succession plans by 50 percent by using pre-tax dollars to pay for insurance.

 

Many successful entrepreneurs, especially Boomers, may be thinking that now is the right time to exit their businesses. Unfortunately, business transitions don’t usually go as smoothly as expected. The failure rate of succession plans is now at eyebrow-raising levels. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What motivates most business owners to think about a business succession plan?

Scary stories about failed companies motivate business owners to consider implementing a business succession plan. Despite the obvious need, few plans are actually designed, drafted and funded properly. High professional fees and insurance costs often take the blame when business owners are asked why they did not implement a succession plan.

Why do so many succession plans miss the mark?

Most business succession plans fail. According to Harvard Business Review, only 30 percent of the businesses make it to Generation Two and a mere 3 percent survive to generate profits in Generation Three. Estate planning experts such as Perry Cochell, Rodney Zeeb and George Hester came up with similarly disappointing numbers. Given this dismal success record for family business transitions, it is no wonder that 65 percent of family wealth is lost by the second generation and 90 percent by the third generation. By the third generation, more than 90 percent of estate value is lost despite the efforts of well-meaning advisors. It does NOT have to be this way.

What is the biggest problem business owners face when they try to implement succession plans?

Unless a business succession plan addresses tax issues, company owners can lose much of their wealth to taxes on income, capital gains, IRD, gifts, estates and other taxes. In most successful businesses, the company will generate taxable cash flow that exceeds what is needed to fund the owner’s lifestyle. This extra cash flow is usually taxed at the highest top marginal state and federal income tax rates. When the after-tax proceeds are invested, the growth is subject to the highest capital gains rates. Ultimately, when the remaining assets are passed to family members or successor managers, there could be a 40 percent gift or estate tax applied.

How can owners and their advisors solve this tax problem?

Every business owner should establish a clear vision for his or her transition and look for ways to improve after-tax returns. Tax-efficient planning strategies are needed to guide decisions about daily operations and business exit strategies. An astute advisor can help you find ways to fund business succession agreements in ways that generate current income tax deductions while allowing the business to generate tax-free income for the business owner and/or successors.

What are some other ways to reduce taxes?

There are many tax-advantaged business succession techniques that give business owners a competitive edge. Qualified plans provide tax deductions in the current years, but they are not typically as tax-efficient for funding a buy-sell. More advanced planning strategies involving Section 79 and Section 162 plans can provide tax-free payments for the retiring executive or death benefits for family members, but limit the tax deductions when the plans are funded. There are very few options when owners seek up-front tax deductions, tax-free growth and tax-free payments to themselves and/or their heirs.

Bottom line

Advanced planning strategies allow business owners to fund business continuity plans more cost-effectively. Business owners should work with advisors who can design a plan that can convert extra taxable income into tax-free cash flow for retirement and/or the tax-free purchase of equity from the business owner’s estate.

Once the plan has been designed, experienced attorneys will draft legal documents to facilitate the tax-efficient plan funding. This integration of design, drafting and funding helps ensure effective implementation of the strategy as well as proper realization of benefits under a variety of scenarios. An experienced advisor should be able to help you quantify how planning costs are just a small fraction of the expected benefits. More important, these financial benefits bring peace of mind to the business owner, the owner’s family and to key executives. Great clarity and confidence results from having a business continuity plan that has been designed properly, drafted effectively and funded tax-efficiently.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Six Really Dumb Things That Business Owners Do at Year-End

Avoiding calendar-related cardinal sins

Key Takeaways:

  • Spending money just to get a tax write-off is a really dumb thing to do.

  • Rushing to finish a project just because it’s year-end will often end up badly.

  • When you buy stuff you don’t need, it often ends up in the trash.

  • Paying bonuses just because you always pay them every year sets a bad precedent.

 

Around this time of year you start seeing lots of advice about what you should do for year-end planning. I’m going to take a slightly different tack. I’m going to talk about some of the really dumb things I see business owners do at year-end to reduce taxes.

Let’s face it; none of us likes to pay taxes. At the same time, a tax deduction is just a tax deduction. If you’re spending money unwisely, you’re taking at least 60 cents out of every dollar you spend and just flushing it down the toilet. This isn’t something you want to do, is it?

1. Buy capital equipment you don’t need

Just because you are having a good year doesn’t mean you should go out and buy equipment to get a tax write-off. Before you buy any type of capital equipment, always do an analysis to see if there is a true payoff for the expense.

When you and your advisor are contemplating what to do about some extra cash that’s burning a hole in your company’s pocket, make sure you figure out how to assess the ROI on the intended purchase. If the purchase doesn’t cover its cost of capital, then you shouldn’t spend the money, period.

Make sure you acknowledge the tendency we all have to overspend in December — with the inevitable cash crunch in February. You and your advisor will be glad you did.

2. Pay bonuses because you had a good year

When business owners do this, I call it the “pennies from heaven” bonus. Employees don’t know why they’ve received the bonus. They surely will appreciate it, but you haven’t communicated with your employees about why they received the extra money.

The real problem with a ”pennies from heaven“ bonus system occurs after you have done this two or three years in a row and then have a terrible year. Employees become resentful if they feel their employer is skipping the annual bonus to which they feel entitled. Even worse, when ”pennies from heaven“ bonuses are the norm, many employees have already spent the bonus money (at least in their minds) before it ever shows up in their paychecks. After all, it’s been paid in the past and now it’s perceived as an expectation, not just a reward.

I love variable compensation. I just want my employees and yours to understand why they’ve earned it. If you want to pay year-end bonuses, make sure the bonuses are based on some company metrics. If you do this, make sure your employees know throughout the year how they are tracking toward earning a bonus. If there isn’t one in the future, communicate early and clearly why a bonus isn’t going to be paid.

3. Rushing to buy a business before year-end

There is nothing magical about December 31. If you’re really not ready to close the transaction, don’t do it. The world won’t come to an end.

Rushing into any transaction, let alone buying a business, is always a bad idea. It’s really hard to do an acquisition that’s accretive under the best of circumstances. The only way to make a business purchase that actually works is to be mindful and carefully follow a purchase process that you’ve designed before you start.

The process should not be based on anything happening at any special time. That is, unless there is an unusual reason that the seller has to sell before the end of the year.

I’ve never seen an acquisition go quickly. Stay the course and follow an acquisition process that you know has a chance of making a smart purchase that you will be proud of.

4. Rush because it’s year-end

For that matter, don’t rush to finish up a project just because the end of the year is coming. I made that mistake when I launched our new website. For some reason I decided that I had to rush to get our site up and running before the end of the year.

One of the things I missed was making sure that all of the pages from our old site were linked to the proper pages on our new site. Our old site was never mapped to our new site. Because we didn’t map our site properly, Google penalized our site for almost a year. This happened just because I rushed a project for no really good reason.

5. Increase your inventory

If you are a cash-based taxpayer, you can deduct inventory as you buy it. The problem with loading up on inventory is that you then have to sell it. If you have too much inventory, you can be sure that some of it is going to go bad.

Don’t fall prey to end-of-the-year deals. They’re always just so your suppliers can make their numbers. If you must load up on inventory, make sure you have a way to return stuff you can’t use. Otherwise, you’re just going to rent a dumpster for those great deals you couldn’t resist.

6. A tax write-off still means you’re spending money

The days of tax credits for buying stuff are long gone. Don’t buy stuff just because you have money burning a hole in your pocket. You shouldn’t either. A tax write-off is only part of the money you spend. It really does come out of your pocket.

A tax deduction is just that, a deduction. Spending money just to get a deduction often turns out really poorly. We either end up junking stuff, throwing inventory away or resenting the feeling that we have to pay a bonus.

Buying capital equipment, setting a precedent for compensation or increasing your inventory because it’s a good deal too often means you just spent money that you’re going to need in the next year. Even worse, being forced into a major activity like buying a business can be worse than painful. It might just end up being a business disaster.

Conclusion

Be smart and think about your year-end purchases just like you would for one in April. If you need it and can afford the expenditure, go for it. Otherwise wait. You’ll be glad you did.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Maximizing Small-Business Tax Deductions

Maximizing small-business tax deductions

How small-business owners can take advantage of Section 199A

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017 offers a wealth of opportunities to small-business owners. Among the most notable provisions is Section 199A, which provides for qualified business income (QBI) deductions. These deductions are available to taxpayers who are not corporations, including S corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and rental properties.

While Section 199A provides a huge tax break for small-business owners, determining who is qualified can be complicated. In addition to eligibility requirements, there are income thresholds after which deductions are phased out. Here’s a look at who is eligible to use Section 199A, as well as strategies business owners above phase-out thresholds can use to recapture QBI deductions. 

Are you eligible?           

In general, small-business owners may qualify for QBI deductions if they meet one of the following criteria:

  •  No matter the type of business, if a business owner’s taxable income falls below $157,500 for single filers or $315,000 for joint filers, that business owner is eligible for a QBI deduction. That deduction is equal to the smaller of 20% of their qualified business income or 20% or their taxable income.

  • Businesses that offer specified service—such as lawyers, accountants, athletes, financial services, consultants, doctors, performing artists, and others with jobs based on reputation or skill—may have deductions phased out if they make too much money. If your income is above $207,500 for single filers or $415,000 for joint filers, you can no longer claim the QBI deduction.

  • If you own a business that is not a service business or a specialized trade, the QBI deduction is partially phased out if your taxable income is above $157,500 for single filers or $315,000 for joint filers. The deduction is limited to the lesser of either 20% of qualified business income or the greater of the following: 50% of W-2 wages paid, or the sum of 25% of W-2 wages paid by the business generating the income plus 2.5% times the cost of depreciable assets

The retirement solution

If your income is above the phase-out limits, you can preserve your full deduction by making smart use of retirement plans. Here’s a look at a few examples of ways to strategically employ retirement plans to reduce your income and recapture a QBI deduction:

Example 1: A couple, age 50, with a specified service business

A couple, each 50 years old, has a specific service business in the form of an S corp that pays W-2 wages of $146,000 and pass-through income of $254,000, for a total income of $400,000. The couple claims the standard deduction of $24,000, making their adjusted gross income $376,000. Because of their high earnings, the couple’s QBI deduction is only $19,812 due to QBI phase-outs. Their total income is  $356,188.

The couple can capture their full QBI deduction by setting up and funding a 401(k) plan. They can set up an individual 401(k) plan, deferring $24,500 as an employee contribution and contributing 25% of salary, or $36,500, as a profit sharing contribution. The deferral and profit sharing max out their individual 401(k) plan with a total contribution of $61,000. In this way, their W-2 wages are reduced to $121,500, and their pass-through income is reduced to $217,500 after the profit sharing contribution. Their total income after the standard deduction is $315,000.

As a result, the couple can claim their full QBI deduction of $43,500 (20% of 217,500), and their income is now $271,500. With a $61,000 contribution to a 401(k), the couple was able to effectively reduce their income by $84,688. In other words, this couple was able to get 1.39 times the income reduction for every dollar they contributed to a retirement plan. 

Example 2: A couple, age 55, with a higher-income specified service business,

Business owners who earn higher income may need to deploy additional retirement plans to capture their QBI deduction. Consider an S corp that pays W-2 wages of $146,000 to the couple, and pass-through income of $317,500 for a total income of $463,500. They claim the standard deduction of $24,000 and their adjusted gross income becomes $439,500. The couple does not receive a QBI deduction because their high income results in a complete phase-out. Their total income therefore remains $439,500.

However, this couple can still take advantage of a QBI deduction by setting up an individual 401(k) plan and deferring $24,500 as an employee contribution. They also can add a defined benefit (DB) plan or a cash balance (CB) plan and contribute even more to a retirement plan. Suppose they set up a DB or a CB plan and the actuaries calculated they could contribute $100,000 to the plan for a total combined contribution of $124,500. In this case, their W-2 wages are reduced to $121,500 and their pass thru income is $217,500.

The couple’s total income after the standard deduction is $315,000. Their QBI deduction is $43,500 (20% of $217,500) and their income is now $271,500. With $124,500 in contributions to their individual 401(k) plan and DB or CB plan the couple received a $168,000 income reduction. This couple was able to get 1.35 times of income reduction for every dollar they contributed to a retirement plan.  

This material is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide tax advice. Talk to your tax professional to find out how QBI deductions may apply to your financial situation.

To learn more about how to maximize your QBI deduction, please email us at rpyle@diversifiedassetmanagement.com or call (303) 440-2906.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice

Diversified Asset Management, Inc. - 2018 3rd Quarter Newsletter

New Ways To Influence The Next Generation

The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act of 2018 (TCJA) gives you more good reasons to help you children, grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. Any amount you give to a 529 account that's used to pay for qualified expenses for college as well as private or religious schooling before college is deductible. With tax reform eliminating all or a large chunk of state income-tax deductions for many individuals in 2018, giving to a 529 lightens your state income-tax load while perhaps changing a life of a family member or friend and influencing their values.

Are You “Rich” Or Not? New Survey Hits The High Points

Do you consider yourself rich? If you own a couple of mansions, a fleet of luxury cars, and financial accounts reaching high into the millions, it may be easy to answer that question. But other well-to-do people might struggle with the issue of whether they are "rich" or not. 

New Deduction Rules For Business Owners

If you are a small business owner, Washington, D.C. has changed tax rules to lower your burden but the new rules are fairly complex. Many small businesses, and some that aren't so small, are "pass-through companies," tax-jargon that means the entity's net income isn't taxed at the corporate level but flows straight to their owners' personal returns. That income is taxed at personal income tax rates, as opposed to corporate rates that are generally lower.

Five Retirement Questions To Answer

How much money do you need to save to live comfortably in retirement? Some experts base estimates on multiple of your current salary or income, while others focus on a flat amount such as a million dollars. Either way, the task can be daunting.

A Guide To The New Rules On Tax Deductions In 2018

Uncle Sam giveth, and Uncle Sam taketh away. New federal tax code, which went into effect in 2018 and affects the return you'll file in spring 2019, lowers taxes by expanding some deductions, but restricts or outright eliminates others.

Giving More To Loved Ones – Tax-Free

While it may be better to give than to receive, as the adage contends, both givers and receivers should be happy with the new tax law. The annual amount you can give someone tax-free has been raised to $15,000, from $14,000 in 2017.

To read the newsletter click on the link below:

Diversified Asset Management, Inc. - 2018 3rd Quarter Newsletter

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.