COVID-19: Unprecedented Opportunity to execute Succession Transition of Family Businesses

Articles

This year, COVID-19 has caused tremendous disruptions to our lives and businesses. Companies have to pivot their operations and put more efforts in planning, not only for short-term but also long-term perspectives. Family businesses start to think hard about their intended transition from the founder generation to their children.

At Aspen Valuations, during the last few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in business valuation demand for the purposes of succession and tax planning. We have seen a drop in value for many businesses. Depending on the specific sectors, many companies suffer significant operating losses in the recent months, resulting in a material drop in their current value. During this time, many family businesses execute an estate freeze. In general terms, an estate freeze is used to transfer the control of a privately-owned business between generations. If your business value is greatly reduced, this will allow the locking in of the low value today, resulting in lower capital gain taxes on death. This will also be a good planning opportunity for business owners that plan to retire outside of Canada.

A combination of a lower business value and unprecedented low prescribed interest rates set by governments (i.e. IRS or CRA) creates an opportunity to gift or sell shares to family members. For example, in Canada, an inactive family member would need to acquire a minimum of 10% of voting shares in a company in order to receive dividends from the company as income splitting without being taxed under the Tax On Split Income rules (TOSI) rules.

In addition, if a U.S. corporation or subsidiary is involved, gifting now when business value is low can help business owners take advantage of the federal exemption from estate and gift tax which is currently capped at $11.58 million for individuals under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. This exemption cap will be reverted back to $5 million by December 31, 2025 or sooner if a new president is elected in November this year.

By Aspen Valuations, Published July 06, 2020. Click here to book a consultation.