July 25, 2014
Crowdfunding is helping thousands of businesses acquire much-needed capital and build a core fan base. Businesses of all kinds and for many funding purposes are using crowdfunding platforms, from yoga studios looking to grow into larger spaces to tech innovators wanting to bring new gadgets to market.
If you’re considering a campaign to launch your business, expand a product line, or fund a special project, scheduling a few minutes with Talley and Company’s advisory team can ensure your campaign is set up properly from the start to avoid obstacles from a tax and legal perspective. (There’s nothing worse than obtaining hard-earned funding only to discover that federal and state tax obligations may keep you from fulfilling your vision.)
For businesses, there are two main avenues for crowdfunding, and depending on which you choose, the tax and legal implications will differ greatly. In the rewards-based approach, supporters are typically offered a chance to earn tiered rewards for different contribution levels. These can be anything from a branded T-shirt to pre-ordering a product still in development. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two popular platforms.
With this option, the income you derive from your campaign will most likely fall under one or more of four categories: revenue, sales, investment or gift. In most cases, the money you earn from a campaign will have to be included as gross income for your business. If you’re offering a product or service in exchange for donations, you may also need to pay sales tax from customers in the state that you’re registered. The expenses you incur for fulfillment of rewards, products or services may be deductible against the income you earn. In some cases, funders will request nothing in return other than the joy of knowing they helped bring an ingenious idea to life. With meticulous records, these may be claimed as gifts. Just keep in mind that the IRS has stricter definitions for what falls under this category than you or I might.
In the equity-based approach, investors get a financial return or an ownership stake in the company for their support. Crowdfunder is one of the platforms in this newly developing category. If you’re using this option, the tax and legal obligations are a different animal entirely, since now we’re talking about investment money and not revenue. In fact, the laws in this area are still undergoing changes, so keeping in close contact with your legal team right from the beginning is essential.
No matter which option you choose, a successful campaign involves a lot of forethought, time and planning to reach funding goals and generate priceless media attention for your big idea. If you’d like to see the creative strategies and executions used by the most highly funded companies, check out the Top 100 Crowdfunded Companies.
21 May 2014
May 16, 2014
Big data has become as much of a game changer in the NFL as it has in business. Thanks to field sensors, multi-view cameras, statistical analysis and game planning software, performances can be measured and quantified in more ways than ever before. That means general managers of NFL franchises have a myriad of new information helping them make more informed draft picks.
Although the information may come from different sources (e.g., balance sheets, sales invoices, CRM software and operational insights), the same goes for business owners when it comes to making decisions that affect company profitability.
Still, all that data means little without the ability to match needs with the resources available and effectively distinguish between what’s important and what’s just white noise. This may have been part of the reason predictions for draft picks made by football analysts were so far off the mark from the actual first round of selections made by the NFL. ESPN’s Mike Maycock got just three of 32 names right, and Mel Kiper faired the same. (Of course, their fumbles also demonstrate the infinite permutations that can occur in a short period of time as teams sequentially select and react to choices made during the complex drafting process.)
For companies, the draft experience equates to top leaders evaluating both positive and negative trends, forecasting business performance based on forward-leaning indicators and nimbly making adjustments whenever and wherever necessary. Decisions may not be demanded as the second hand ticks like in the NFL, but timeliness is still incredibly important to avoid potential misses and take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Translating a business’s infinite streams of data into decision-making tools that help increase growth and profitability is no easy task. To get it right, analysts need to sift through and consider a company’s operations from the inside, knowing what to look for in detail. Working closely with the data particular to your business, you and/or your advisors can pinpoint the right key performing indicators and accurately interpret information to ensure your company is on track to meet goals.
Talley & Company and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, offer a uniquely combined platform of services that give business leaders the ability to both analyze and decipher leading as well as lagging indicators. Talley & Company not only provides timely, accurate historical financial data, (where you’ve been) but also reporting metrics that can anticipate where your business is going. To determine whether your business is taking advantage of all metrics available to make the most informed picks for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.
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.