Seven Common ESOP Myths and Misconceptions

Seven Common ESOP Myths and Misconceptions ESOPs were first authorized by federal legislation in 1974. Since that date, there have been more than 25 separate pieces of legislation that have further defined what an ESOP is and what an ESOP is permitted to do. Despite this fact, significant misconceptions about ESOPs persist. The following describes some of the more prevalent myths and misconceptions regarding ESOPs. Hopefully, the explanations provided below will help to dispel many of the misconceptions that currently exist regarding these matters. MISCONCEPTION #1 – The ESOP is primarily an employee benefit plan. The ESOP is not primarily an employee benefit plan. The reverse is true. The ESOP is primarily a tool of corporate finance that is used as an alternative to a sale or merger as a way of creating liquidity and investment diversification for owners of privatelyheld businesses. An ESOP uses the tax advantages afforded to qualified employee benefit plans in order to ... Read More..

The Use of ESOPs to Finance Mergers and Acquisitions

Advantages to C Corporations Many companies that have ESOPs fail to realize that their ESOP can be used to the finance acquisitions with pre-tax dollars. Normally, when debt is incurred to finance an acquisition, only the interest payments are deductible.  Principal payments are not deductible.  However, if the acquisition is financed through an ESOP, both the interest and the principal payments will be fully deductible, and this will be true whether the plan sponsor is structured as a regular C corporation or as an S corporation. In addition, if both the acquiring company and the target company are structured as  regular C corporations, or both convert to C corporation status before consummating the merger, then the shareholders of the target corporation can qualify for tax-free rollover treatment upon the sale of their stock to the acquiring company’s ESOP.  This additional tax savings gives the acquiring company a distinct advantage in ... Read More..

How to Structure Stock Ownership Plans for Management Employees

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO MOTIVATE MANAGEMENT EMPLOYEES Attracting and retaining key employees is necessary to the success of any corporation. This factor is even more important in an ESOP company, since the number of beneficial owners in an ESOP company is much greater than in a non-ESOP company. The most effective way to motivate management employees is to give them a piece of the action. Management employees are accustomed to getting a substantial piece of the action whenever a management buyout is involved. Accordingly, it is sometimes important that management receive a piece of the action in the case of ESOP buyouts. Under IRS regulations, the “covered compensation” of a key employee is limited to $205,000. In addition, the “covered compensation” of the key management group in most companies is less than 5% of the total covered compensation of all employees. Since the key management group receives a limited ... Read More..

Consider an ESOP as a Better Alternative When It Comes Time to Exit Your Business

(Why Selling Your Stock to an ESOP is Better than Selling to a Third Party) If you are the owner of a successful decorative plumbing or hardware business, sooner or later you will face the prospect of having to exit the business, either because you wish to retire or because you wish to cash in the value of what you have built up and pursue other interests. ... Read More..

Ten Steps to a Successful ESOP

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (“ESOPs”) are federally qualified employee benefit programs governed by U.S. law. Since our president and founder, John Menke, wrote some of the original ESOP legislation in 1974, more than 25 additional laws have been passed to promote and broaden the benefits of ESOPs. In general, ESOPs offer owners of companies tax efficient means to sell all or part of their shares to their employees, on a timeline of their choosing. ESOPs have the added benefit of energizing employees to increase sales and profits as these employees become “owners.” Shares sold to an ESOP are held in a trust: the employees receive beneficial ownership, while and in most instances the selling shareholder retains control. The formation of an ESOP does not preclude the company from going public or being sold at a later date. Below are ten steps to understanding, designing and implementing an ESOP that is ... Read More..

Stock Distributions – An Occasional Trap for the Unwary

Distributions from an ESOP in the form of shares of company stock have many advantages. One of the compelling reasons for making distribution in the form of company stock, for example, is that distributions in the form of company stock enable participants to have a portion of their distribution taxed at long term capital gains tax rates rather than having the entire distribution taxed at ordinary income tax rates. This tax benefit derives from IRC Section 402(e)(4)(B), which provides that the employee will not be taxed at the time of distribution on the net unrealized appreciation attributable to employer securities. The result is that the employee pays tax on the cumulative cost basis of the employer securities at the time of distribution, and pays a long term capital gains tax on the appreciation at the time that the stock is sold back to the plan or to the company, as ... Read More..

The Perfect Solution to the Perfect Storm: How an SR ESOP Can Be Used to Save Your Business from Bankruptcy

A “perfect storm” has hit the U.S. economy and its privately-held businesses. Consumer purchasing power has dried up, resulting in reduced revenues for almost all privately-held businesses. At the same time most banks have stopped or curtailed lending, and bank credit is no longer available to many businesses. During the past two quarters many businesses have downsized their operations and have implemented reductions-in-force, yet they are still faced with negative cash flows. Fortunately, there is a perfect solution to the negative cash flow problem that many businesses will experience for the rest of this year and most of next year. That solution utilizes a well-known tool that has been part of the tax code for over 35 years. It is a tool that is relatively inexpensive to implement and does not require the use of outside lenders or expensive factoring companies. The solution is to implement a Salary Reduction Employee ... Read More..

Four Ways That a Cash Flow ESOP Can Be Used To Help Your Company Survive the Credit Crunch

A “perfect storm” has hit the U. S. economy and its privately-held businesses. Consumer purchasing power has dried up, resulting in reduced revenues for almost all privately-held businesses. At the same time most banks have stopped or curtailed lending, and bank credit is no longer available to many businesses. ... Read More..

ESOP Marketability Discounts: Is the "Put Option" Argument Fallacious?

Virtually every ESOP appraisal that has been written in the past 10 years has concluded that, both in the case of purchases of company stock by an ESOP from direct shareholders and in the case of subsequent distributions and repurchases of company stock to and from plan participants, the discount for lack of marketability is greatly diminished by virtue of the ESOP “put option.” This article reviews the origin and development of the put option argument in the appraisal literature and concludes that (1) the put option argument is fallacious with respect to purchases of company stock from direct shareholders and (2) nevertheless, there should be no marketability discount with respect to purchases of company stock from direct shareholders. The issue of marketability discounts in ESOP transactions is an issue that has been crying out for clarification ever since the Eyler case was decided by the Tax Court in 1995 ... Read More..

Why Selling To An ESOP Gives Better Financial Returns vs. Other Options

You own a successful privately-held business which you may be thinking about selling. Very likely your business is your most important financial asset. You want maximum financial advantage when you sell, of course, but there are other concerns. For example, how will the sale affect your key employees? Will your firm continue as an independent entity or will it be absorbed into the buyer’s operations? If there are minority shareholders, how do you deal with them? ... Read More..

WinSystems, an Employee-Owned Corporation on Youtube

Here is a video posted by one of The Menke Group’s Clients: WinSystems, an embedded PC designer and manufacturer, provides a high level of quality and customer service through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This leads to employees holding a direct stake in maintaining a high level of customer service. Here is the full press-release: WinSystems Adopts Employee Stock Ownership Plan September 19, 2007, Embedded Systems Conference, Boston, MA Jerry Winfield, President of WinSystems, today announced that the company has instituted an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and now joins a growing list of successful companies whose employees are stockholders. This corporate structure offers stability and longevity for the WinSystems Corporation insuring long-term availability of products for our customers. This is very important for industrial OEMs using embedded PC technology for their ongoing and future applications. “Acquisitions happen during a market consolidation or when an owner seeks an exit ... Read More..

S Corporation Rules Involving Section 409(p)

Section 409(P) of the Code, which was enacted as part of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief reconciliation Act of 2001, sets forth anti-abuse rules for ESOPs that are maintained by S corporations.  The following is to summarize the restrictions of Section 409(P), as follows: Basic Rule:  No assets of an ESOP may be allocated (directly or indirectly) for the benefit of any Disqualified Person if, at any time during the plan year, Disqualified Persons, in the aggregate, own 50% or more of the equity of an S corporation.  Thus, the test can be broken down into two steps:  Step One — identifying the Disqualified Persons, and Step 2 — determining whether they own at least 50% of the equity. Consequences:  If an S corporation ESOP fails this test, then the result is a Non-allocation Year. If a Non-allocation Year occurs, then the plan loses its exemption from the unrelated ... Read More..

Exit Strategies

The exit strategies available to owners of electrical wholesaling firms are somewhat limited. The available strategies include selling the business to a competitor, selling the business to the management employees, or selling the business to all of its employees under the provisions of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”). ... Read More..

22 ESOP Myths And Misconceptions

Click here to download the full article in pdf format ESOPs were first authorized by federal legislation in 1974. Since that date, there have been more than 25 separate pieces of legislation that have further defined what an ESOP is and what an ESOP is permitted to do. Despite this fact, there are more misconceptions about ESOPs than about any of the other similar financial tools that exist in the marketplace. The following describes some of the more prevalent myths and misconceptions regarding ESOPs. Hopefully, the explanations provided below will help to dispel many of the misconceptions that currently exist regarding these matters. Misconception # 1 ESOPs can only be adopted by regular C corporations False. More than half of all new ESOPs are installed by S corporations. Originally, ESOPs could only be adopted by regular C corporations. However, as a result of legislation in 1996, ESOPs can now also ... Read More..

ESOPs: Uses, Advantages, and Illustrative Case Histories

USES OF AN ESOP A Readily Available Market for Controlling Shareholders Frequently, controlling shareholders desire to sell a part of their shares in order to diversity their holdings, or to provide liquidity for investment or estate planning purposes. Usually, however, there is no market for the sale of a minority interest in a closely-held company. The adoption of an ESOP solves this problem by providing a readily available market for the purchase of shares from controlling shareholders. Moreover, the ESOP enables a shareholder to sell tax-free, provided that the ESOP acquires at least 30% of the outstanding shares. A great deal of flexibility is available in structuring sales to the ESOP. If a shareholder desires immediate liquidity, the plan may obtain a bank loan and purchase the shares for cash. If a shareholder does not need immediate liquidity, he may defer the tax on the sale by selling his shares ... Read More..

ESOPS vs. Profit Sharing Plans

WHAT IS AN ESOP? The best way to explain an ESOP is to compare it to a profit sharing plan. ESOPs can do all the things a profit sharing plan can do. However, ESOPs can do a great many things that profit sharing plans cannot do. Profit sharing plans are regarded primarily as employee benefit plans. The ESOP is primarily regarded as a “tool of corporate finance,” according to IRS rulings and regulations. Accordingly, ESOPs are permitted under profit sharing plans. If one carefully analyzes the pros and cons of ESOPs versus profit sharing plans, the ESOP is almost always more beneficial both for the employees, the company, and the shareholders. SHAREHOLDER BENEFITS In the case of a profit sharing plan, the contribution is usually in cash, and the cash is invested in other investments. As a result, these contributions do not benefit either the corporation or the shareholders. In ... Read More..

ESOPS and Employee Productivity

USING ESOPS TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY You’ve read about them—companies that seem to have found the key to success in an unstable business environment: “Sales Jump 312% as Employees Learn Rules of the Game” at Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation in Missouri. Management Accounting. Inc. magazine awards its Entrepreneur of the Year award to all 240 owner-employees of the Connecticut firm Reflexite, Inc. Out of 2,700 private companies evaluated, 4 of the 5 finalists had substantial employee ownership. Inc. ... Read More..

ESOP Pros and Cons

Information in this booklet has been developed for those owners of privately-held businesses who are interested in liquefying some portion of the equity which has accumulated in their companies. We have assumed that many of our readers may be interested in accomplishing this objective without sacrificing the identity of their companies, jeopardizing the jobs of valued employees or relinquishing control of the companies they own. An ESOP installation may provide the optimal solution for business owners hoping to achieve all of these goals. An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) is a powerful and versatile business and financial tool which can help a business owner to accomplish the following: The ESOP trust establishes the fair market value of the company’s privately-held stock and it also functions as the marketplace for that stock. ESOPs assure flexibility by allowing an owner to liquefy whatever portion of his ownership he chooses. The owner does not ... Read More..