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 -

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.