Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How do business, or goodwill, licences work?

As set out in earlier posts, and with thanks to the Television Education Network, today’s post addresses the issue of ‘How do business, or goodwill, licences work?’. If you would like a link to the video please let me know.

As usual, a transcript of the presentation for those that cannot (or choose not) to listen to the presentation is below –

The key idea, and it’s probably not dissimilar to some sort of service trust arrangement, is having the two arms of the business being conducted by different entities.

An example, particularly for those that are currently in a partnership of individuals is that if the right to run the business was able to be utilised by someone else or by another entity, for example a partnership of trusts, then there's arguably the ability to create a licence arrangement that would say that the partnership of trusts has the ability to do everything to conduct the business and to enjoy the fruits of conducting the business, the income that’s generated for the payment of invariably a relatively nominal fee back to the actual original owners of the business.

Now the idea of that arrangement obviously, particularly from an asset protection perspective is that, if you can get the risks associated from running the business away from the individuals, that’s obviously a very attractive thing.

It also gives the partners the ability to think a little bit strategically about how they would want that income derived. So in other words, rather than earning the income in their own name, they have the ability to earn it through a company or trust environment.

Until next week.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What are some of the issues with a professional partnership ‘rolling over’ into a company structure?

As set out in earlier posts, and with thanks to the Television Education Network, today’s post addresses the issue of ‘What are some of the issues with a professional partnership ‘rolling over’ into a company structure?’at the following link - http://youtu.be/pIwVOyEAeBA

As usual, a transcript of the presentation for those that cannot (or choose not) to view the presentation is below –

The rollover at face value is always the easiest way to go, because it removes one seriously significant transaction cost being the capital gains tax implications. The problem though is that when you dig a little bit deeper, that is a little illusionary at times, particularly for a group of individual partners rolling over to a company. The attraction of taking that style of rollover can be diminished by the fact that they will still individually own the shares in the company.

So if it's a standard rollover, for example a partnership to a company under Division 122B of the Tax Act, ultimately, the individuals would still actually own the shares in the company. What they will have done is taken away 100 cents in the dollar, if that’s the right way to say it, of income that they’ve historically been enjoying and replaced that with 70 cents in the dollar and an imputation credit or franking credit.

This can lead to a situation where people, having done a rollover are then looking to restructure again anyway. So effectively it's a double restructure because they'll want to divest themselves individually of shares and make those shares be owned via some sort of discretionary trust arrangement.

It can also lead into a range of other potential restructures, dividend access shares and these types of arrangements that certainly get away from the overall goal in the first place, which was to simplify arrangements and get true limited liability.

The other areas (and some of these touched on in other parts of today's program) that obviously need to be taken into account include that while there is no stamp duty on unlisted shares, there is certainly stamp duty in every state moving from an individual or partnership arrangement into a company arrangement. That's a significant transaction cost that cannot be avoided in any way, shape or form currently and needs to be paid upfront effectively to get yourself into the new structure. The other ancillary costs that go around an incorporation include issues such as payroll tax, which is inevitably a lot more expensive if you've moved into a company structure as opposed to remaining in a partnership structure.

Until next week.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Company owned insurance policies for business succession

We recently had an adviser seeking more detailed comments about company owned business succession insurance policies.

In particular, feedback was requested about the specific reservations with insurance policies for business succession being owned by a company. In summary, and with thanks to co View Legal director Tara Lucke, we provided the following reasons:

1   while capital gains tax (CGT) should not be payable on receipt of life insurance proceeds, it will be payable on any total and permanent disablement or trauma proceeds that are paid to a company. In contrast, no CGT should be payable on receipt of the insurance proceeds where the policies are self owned;

2   there can also be significant practical difficulties in extracting insurance proceeds from a company to the appropriate recipient. This is particularly important when the main purpose of the policy is for an equity payment, as opposed to debt cover. Again, where the policy is self owned, the exiting principal or their estate will receive the proceeds directly and none of these practical issues will arise, as long as an appropriate agreement is implemented;

3   where insurance proceeds need to be accessed by the exiting principal (or their estate) this is generally only achievable via a share buy-back or dividend. A dividend will likely be tax inefficient and generally a buy back will also have an inefficient tax outcome for the following reasons:

(a) the consideration will be split between an assessable capital gain and a dividend, which restricts access to the full benefit of the CGT 50% discount and small business CGT concessions;

(b) while a company may be able to pay the proceeds to the exiting shareholder/s as a partially or fully franked dividend, this will use franking credits that would otherwise have been available for distributing profits; and

(c) the surviving owner/s will own 100% of a company after a share buy-back, however their cost base in the shares will not have increased;

4   insurance proceeds will be under the control of the remaining director/s of a company, in contrast with a self owned or superannuation owned policy where the estate directly receives the benefit of the proceeds; and

5   finally, the legal documentation required for company ownership is comparatively complex to all other policy ownership approaches.

Until next week.