Posts Tagged ‘ESOPs’

Tax Roundup, 11/24/15: Another Kansas medical practice ESOP blows up. And: tax credits for everything!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 by Joe Kristan

20151124-1When you fund an employee stock ownership plan, be sure you have an employee. Another strange ESOP failure out of Kansas emerged from the Tax Court yesterday. A Wichita doctor, whom we will call Dr. F, funded an ESOP for his practice with over $400,000 in 2004, supposedly rolled over from his IRA. But, according to the tax court, the doctor wasn’t qualified to participate, and there was no evidence of a rollover. From the Tax Court (emphasis added, citations omitted, doctor’s name shortened by me):

Dr. F. received no compensation from, and was not employed by, petitioner in 2004 or 2005. A total of 53.06 shares of petitioner’s stock was allocated to his account in these years. Respondent determined that these contributions exceeded the section 415(c) limitation because Dr. F. received no compensation from petitioner in 2004 or 2005. Petitioner alleges that the amounts in Dr. F.’s accounts were rollover contributions from Dr. F.’s individual retirement account and should not be considered for purposes of section 415(c).

In order for a distribution to be considered a rollover contribution, the entire amount received must be paid into a qualified trust for the distributee’s benefit no later than the 60th day after the day that the distribution is received. Petitioner has not provided evidence that a valid rollover took place. Further, because the ESOP trust did not have a bank or brokerage account from May 13, 2004, through December 31, 2009, it was not possible for the distribution from Dr. F.’s individual retirement account to have been paid into an account held by the ESOP trust.

Details, details. But details are everything. The IRS cited multiple reasons for the ESOP revocation, and as the court notes, “Any one of the reasons cited in the final revocation letter would be sufficient alone to cause the ESOP and the ESOP trust to fail…” The ESOP also failed to get a qualified appraisal.

This is the second physician ESOP out of Kansas to fail this year in Tax Court. Iowa has long been the capital of flaky ESOPs, but Kansas seems ready to challenge our dubious supremacy. In fairness, though, the trustee of both ESOPs appears to operate out of Northeast Iowa, so we’re keeping our hand in the game.

The Moral? ESOPs are useful for limited purposes, primarily as a succession vehicle for a closely-held business, but they are complex and dangerous, requiring meticulous compliance to avoid catastrophe. They are a poor tax shelter for a closely-held business when the owner wants to maintain control.

Cite: Fleming Cardiovascular PA, T.C. Memo. 2015-224


The income tax, the Ultimate Swiss Army Knife of public policy. Flickr Image courtesy redjar under Creative Commons license.

The income tax, the Ultimate Swiss Army Knife of public policy. Flickr Image courtesy redjar under Creative Commons license.

Joseph Thorndike, Tax Credits Are Easy – And a Loser’s Game for Liberals (Tax Analysts Blog):

Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign is still churning out tax proposals at a furious pace. Over the weekend, she proposed a new credit for caretakers—intended, according to her campaign, to “provide support for the millions of families paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging or disabled family members.”

That sounds great – just like every other tax break Clinton has suggested in the past several months. After all, caring for family members can be hard, and it’s often expensive. Caretakers could definitely use a hand.

But is the tax system the best way to provide it? Probably not.

Home caregivers are wonderful people. But Mr. Thorndike notes the problems with such feel-good credits:

Using tax incentives as a form of hidden spending merely serves to further erode support for more direct forms of government action. Small-bore tax breaks breed more small-bore tax breaks. But they don’t foster any serious rethinking of the role of government.

Nor do they produce meaningful results, even for the narrow problems they target.

There’s another argument that the tax-credits-for-everything crowd glosses over. Each feel-good credit throws another social program to an IRS that is collapsing under its current workload. They can’t really want IRS agents evaluating at-home care, yet it’s baked into that cake. If you don’t audit a lucrative tax credit, it becomes a fraud magnet. So IRS, meet Grandma.


Howard Gleckman, Clinton’s Caregiver Credit Adds To Her List of Tax Breaks, Sharpens Her Contrast With The GOP. “The likely Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, would aggressively use the tax code to achieve social and economic goals, cut taxes on many middle-income people, and raise taxes on high-income households. Every Republican presidential hopeful would eliminate most existing tax subsidies, lower rates, and give big tax cuts to those with high-incomes.”




Robert D. Flach has fresh Tuesday Buzz! Lots of links, and spicy observations on the use of the tax law to run social programs.

Tony Nitti, Tax Geek Tuesday: Reminding You That The Gain On That Sale Of Stock May Be Tax Free. “C corporations are like pit bulls and prostate exams — they carry quite the stigma,  but they’re not nearly as bad as they’re made out to be.”

TaxGrrrl, Guilty On Tax & Conspiracy Counts, Couple Faces New Charges For Revenge. Violating the first rule of holes.

Robert Wood, Al Sharpton’s Charity Hikes His Pay 71%, But Tax Liens, Clinton Imprint Remain.


Farley Katz, Joseph Perera, Katy David, Important New Partnership Audit Rules Change Taxation of Partnerships (Procedurally Taxing)

Not only can the partnership owe income tax, the tax will not be based on the income for the year in question, but instead on one or more prior years’ income. Consequently, the economic burden of the tax could be borne by partners who had no interest in the partnership when the income was generated. Conversely, if a partnership overstated its income in a prior year, the benefit of correcting that overstatement will accrue to the current partners, not those who were partners in the earlier year. Finally, if a partnership elects out of the new provisions (assuming it is eligible), the IRS will no longer be able to conduct a centralized audit controlling each partner’s distributive share, but will instead have to audit each partner individually,

Excellent article. These new rules will change the dynamics of partnership exams a great deal when they take effect for 2017 filings.

Jack Townsend, Fifth Circuit Sustains Convictions Despite Trial Judge’s Refusal to Give Proper Cheek Willfulness Instruction




Tyler Cowen, Against a financial transactions tax. He cites a paper documenting that such taxes are unwise:  “This is consistent with earlier findings on Sweden’s transactions tax, and that proposal continues to be one of the more overrated ideas in American Progressive political discourse.”

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 929

Peter Reilly, Foundation Of Big GOP Donor Loses Tax Court Case Over Political Ads


Career Corner. Let’s Discuss: Non-Equity Partners in Accounting Firms (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)



Iowa General Assembly adjourns without further damage (update – they got some damage in)

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

It could have been much worse.

The 150 elected supergeniuses at the Iowa legislature weren’t shy about deciding what forms of energy production deserve your tax money, and they also invested tax dollars in a private baseball park in Dyersville.  Still, they at least avoided making taxpayers pay for other peoples “innovative” investments or ESOP consultants.

The legislature failed to pass the Governor’s highest priority, a reform of Iowa’s commercial property taxes, though they did vote to curb some of the worst abuses of TIF districts.

Bills that passed include:

  • TIF Reform. HF 2460, the TIF reform, keeps taxpayers from diverting TIF receipts and requires audits of projects.  It’s a small step against local crony capitalism.
  • Field of Dreams.  The legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill (SF 2329) to let an athletic complex built on the location of the Kevin Costner movie to keep sales taxes it collects.  The movie says “if you build it, they will come.”  The legislation says “If you lobby hard enough, they’ll vote for almost anything.”  Any bill passed for the benefit of a specific taxpayer is by definition bad policy.
  • Tax Credits for green energy.SF 2342 provides “tax credits for the construction and installation of solar energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, modifying sales and use tax provisions related to property purchased for resale, and creating a sales tax exemption for certain items purchased for use in providing vehicle wash and wax services.”  Because the Iowa legislature knows better than you how you should heat your house.

Bills that died, mercifully:

It’s unfortunate that the legislature couldn’t agree on a way to improve Iowa’s awful commercial property tax, but maybe we’ll be better off in the long run making it an issue in the upcoming election.  It would be even better if they would take up the issue of tax reform generally.  I suppose an election over the merits of the Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan would be too much to hope for.

The Quad City Times has more coverage of the end of the session.


New Iowa ESOP break clears House committee

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 by Joe Kristan

The Governor’s proposed new break for ESOPs moved closer to passage yesterday when it cleared the House Ways and Means Committee. Like too many bad bills, it passed unanimously.
The bill, HF 2085, provides an exclusion on sales of stock to Employee Stock Ownership Plans if the corporation owns at least 30% of the company’s stock after the transaction.
The key language of the bill:

(1) To the extent not already excluded, the net capital gain from the sale or exchange of employer securities of an Iowa corporation to a qualified Iowa employee stock ownership plan when, upon completion of the transaction, the qualified Iowa employee stock ownership plan owns at least thirty percent of all outstanding employer securities issued by the Iowa corporation.
(2) For purposes of this paragraph:
(a) “Employer securities” means the same as defined in 1 section 409(l) of the Internal Revenue Code.
(b) “Iowa corporation” means a corporation whose commercial 3 domicile, as defined in section 422.32, is in this state.

Even if you think extra state breaks for ESOPs are a great idea (they aren’t), this bill is a mess. It meshes badly with Federal Code Section 1042, which provides an elective deferral for sales to ESOPs owning 30% of the corporation stock if the proceeds are re-invested in public securities. The gain is deferred until the public securities are sold.
The way this bill is written, it may make people selling stock to ESOPs choose between a federal deferral of taxable income and a permanent state exclusion. Remember, the Iowa break only applies on a sale of “employer securities.” The securities purchased when proceeds are re-invested under Section 1042 are not “employer securities,” so the Iowa break will not apply when they are eventually sold. If language excluding the deferred Section 1042 gain is added to the bill (Iowa gain is normally the same as federal), it would require taxpayers taking advantage of the federal break to remember to reduce the gain on the eventual sale of the rollover securities for their Iowa returns.
So why are state ESOP breaks not a good idea? The ESOP rules are incredibly complicated, and for many closely-held S corporations, almost hopelessly so. A state break adds an additional layer of complexity to an already byzantine part of the tax law. It also makes the Iowa tax law even more complicated. It will do about as much good for the Iowa economy as a bill signed yesterday “RELATING TO FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR PURPOSES OF THE BATTLESHIP IOWA.”
We shouldn’t be adding more small-beer tax breaks to an Iowa tax law already full of them. Like the Battleship Iowa, the Iowa income tax is obsolete. It’s time to start over with a simple system with low rates — something like the Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform plan. Unlike this break, it could actually more than a token difference for the Iowa economy.


Doing battle around the web

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

I’m quoted today in the Des Moines Register lead page 1 story explaining why the proposed special Iowa capital gain break on Iowa returns for sales to ESOPs is a bad idea. The story nowhere discusses the existing federal break for sales to ESOPs under Section 1042, which also applies to Iowa, nor does it mention the existing “10 and 10” Iowa gain exclusion on asset sales. There is a better way to improve Iowa’s business climate.
I pick a fight with advocates for increased IRS funding at Going Concern.
I pick a fight with no one (I think) at when I say that you shouldn’t try to file your return before you have all of your W-2s, 1099s and K-1s.