May 9, 2014
Last week’s sanctions by the NBA against Donald Sterling-prompted by a recording of him running afoul with a string of racist remarks-were both definitive and sweeping. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, and almost in the same breath pressed for the league’s owners to force him to sell the team. At least three-quarters of the league’s owners (22 of the total 29, not counting Sterling himself) would have to agree to be able to drive him out.
Should this minimum vote be reached, Sterling will pay more than just the maximum $2.5 million fine imposed by the NBA for violating its rules. Next to the capital gains taxes Sterling might owe from a sale, the $2.5 million will shrink in comparison. Of course, how big his check to the IRS might be will depend on the team’s ultimate selling price.
Sports analysts and mainstream media are estimating the Clippers could go for anywhere from $575 million to $1 billion or even more. Not only is ownership a profitable investment with growth expected to shoot upward still, but the prestige that comes with being part of the elite owners club could set off an all-out bidding war among the billionaire set. Already, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oprah Winfrey (with partners Larry Ellison and David Geffen) have reportedly voiced interest, among others.
If the Clippers sell at the $1 billion mark, federal capital gains would come in at 20 percent and state at 13.3 percent. Since Sterling purchased the team for $12.5 million back in 1981, capital gains would take $329 million right from the top of his $987.5 million profit. That would leave Sterling and his heirs with $671 million.
There’s no arguing that this would be a mega-return on Sterling’s investment but if he were able to keep the ball in his court by passing ownership on to heirs after his death, he could avoid the $329 million in capital gains entirely. That’s because his heirs would benefit from a step-up basis, requiring them to pay capital gains only on any increase in value from the time they received ownership to the time they sold.
There are other factors at play here, too. Because Sterling is no stranger to litigation, we can reasonably assume that he will fight the NBA to try and stop a forced sale. Should he lose that battle, he may take the IRS to court and argue that under IRS Code 1033 he doesn’t have to pay capital gains because the sale is an “involuntary conversion.”
Even with the many variables and complexities of this situation, it’s easy to see the massive impact capital gains taxes can make on an investment. To learn more about how capital gains taxes can affect your personal or business assets, contact Talley and Company today.
April 25, 2014
On April 3rd, Letterman broadcast his plans to retire from the show he created. CBS announced just one week later that Colbert, host of the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report,” would be Letterman’s replacement. While Letterman won’t actually be leaving until next year, the speed and decisiveness of the transition to the public eye was no funny business. With Colbert quickly given the nod, the network has avoided a prolonged period of speculation for fans, endless scrutiny from Hollywood news outlets, and possible in-fighting among internal candidates and stakeholders.
Was it a surprise to executives that Letterman would retire one day? It shouldn’t have been. Yet networks and other businesses are often ill-prepared for similar contingency plans-whether an exit arises from retirement, illness, burnout, or simply the desire to move on to other projects.
Microsoft would have benefited from CBS’s approach when its former CEO Steve Ballmer stepped down. Instead, the corporate giant took months to announce Satya Nadella as successor, jeopardizing shareholder confidence, employee productivity and company profits.
Particularly for entrepreneurs, it’s all too easy to buy into the myth of being irreplaceable. While no one would suggest Letterman’s comedic style could be duplicated, the show is still preparing to go on, albeit in different form. If you don’t believe it can work, consider that “The Tonight Show”is enjoying a 60-year legacy despite former one-of-a-kind hosts Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.
Best known for playing a satirical political character, Colbert acknowledged his takeover of “The Late Show” by jesting, “I do not envy who they try to put in that chair,” because “Those are some really big shoes to fill-and some really big pants.”
We bet your shoes are just as big. Still, it’s important to consider how in your absence they might be filled, used or bought. The same goes for active partners and key employees. Starting the planning process years ahead will ensure you get the most from all you’ve invested into your company and that it continues to have a profitable future.
For a top 10 list of the best succession-planning steps to take, send us a message here.
April 4, 2014
With only days left to file before the April 15th deadline, a lot of taxpayers are wondering whether they’ll be audited. The 2013 Data Book issued by the IRS is just the place to find the odds, which not surprisingly, go up as your income or business’s balance sheets do. This year’s report shows 1.0% of all individual returns were audited, but for those with income between $200k and $1 million that number grew to 1.4% and then jumped to 10.8% for income of $1 million or more. Approximately 1.4% of corporate returns were audited overall, but the rate ticked upward fast according to balance sheets, hitting up to 91.2% for corporations with $20 billion or more.
The IRS acknowledged in the report that ongoing budget constraints contributed to a 5% decline in audits between FY 2013 and 2012. Approximately 1.4 million individuals were audited, the lowest number since FY 2008. That’s good news for filers, right? Not necessarily. Here are three trends we’re seeing based on our experience representing hundreds of taxpayers and businesses:
Auditors’ Ability to Understand Complicated Tax Issues is Compromised – Taxpayers aren’t the only ones challenged with navigating the 4,838 changes in tax code since 2001; its enforcers are, too. Do more with less, a mantra entrepreneurs of growing companies understand well, is one IRS auditors are also coming to terms with as a result of budget constraints.
Quality of Documentation Matters More Than Ever – Whether this is the IRS’ attempt to improve audit efficiency or reduce errors, we can’t know for sure. But the impression we’re getting is that auditors are adhering closely to a checklist of requirements, whether that list includes items actually required by regulations or not.
Auditors Don’t Always Understand How a Business Operates – We’ve seen auditors object to businesses with more than one landline and even deny deductions for businesses that reimburse salespeople for taking clients to lunch. What seems universal to us still needs to be defended to the IRS.
If you do get a notice of an examination, you don’t have to go it alone. Talley and Company’s tax and legal professionals can guide you through the process. We can submit requested documentation per an auditor’s preferred format, advocate for legitimate deductions taken by businesses in your specific industry, and go toe to toe with auditors through every inch of the tax code. Just remember that if the IRS comes calling you, you can call us.
17 Mar 2014
March 17, 2014
Since January 1, when Colorado’s marketplace for the legal sale of recreational marijuana first opened, all eyes have been on the state to see what consequences unfold. Already, early estimates are showing tax revenues from pot sales to be far exceeding expectations-from the $70 million provided to voters to $98 million recently predicted by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper for the next fiscal year.
Until recently, processing money from marijuana sales put federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges. But just weeks ago, the Obama administration gave the “ok” for banks to lend to pot sellers, at least with a complicated list of due diligence requirements and over 20 red flags that must be reported to ensure business legitimacy and compliance with federal law. FinCEN, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, has a vested interest in helping to keep cash off the streets since it writes the rules that banks follow to mitigate money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Yet many banks are reading the new guidelines as more of an outline to all the risks of doing business with pot sellers than a green light. The American Bankers Association says the new regulations simply aren’t enough, since they don’t change the fact that marijuana sales are still illegal under federal law. That means property used as collateral for loans would potentially be subject to federal drug-seizure laws. According to The Denver Post, Colorado’s two largest banks, Wells Fargo Bank and FirstBank, aren’t offering new loans to landowners with pre-existing leases with pot businesses.
You don’t have to be selling marijuana to run into obstacles with a financial institution, particularly when it comes to getting a loan or line of credit. If you’re seeking to obtain financing for cash flow and daily operations, growth plans or other needs, Talley & Company’s team and relationships with lending institutions can help. Our advisors can present and prepare your company’s financials in ways that increase favorability with lenders, helping to make sure your efforts don’t go up in smoke.