New Study Shows Jobs Grew 60% in S-ESOPs While Others Remained Flat

A study released today by Alex Brill, former advisor to the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan deficit reduction commission and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, finds that private employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) organized as S corporations increased employment over the last decade more quickly than the overall private sector. Among surveyed “S-ESOP” companies, the Brill study reported, jobs grew by 60 percent over the past decade, while jobs in the private economy as a whole remained relatively flat. “The unique strengths of employee ownership drove company gains and jobs in the past decade, while helping insulate S-ESOP businesses from the adverse effects of the recent recession,” Brill wrote in the new report. ESOPs are tax-exempt retirement plans that consist of company stock held on behalf of the company’s employees. They are company-funded retirement plans that do not require any contribution from workers. Congress first changed U.S. tax rules to allow ... 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..

ESOP Technical Issues Web Seminar – October, 2011

Below you will find the links to watch each of the Technical Issues Webinar Sessions On-Demand: Session 1: Introduction What is an ESOP? History of ESOPs CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 1 Session 2: Retirement Plan Basics Qualified vs. Nonqualified plans Types of Plans CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 2 Session 3: Basic ESOP Transactions Prefund Stock Contributions Leveraged ESOPs Section 1042 Transactions CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 3 Session 4: Plan Operation Features Eligibility Requirements Participation/Benefit Allocations Vesting Distributions CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 4 Session 5: Repurchase Obligation Repurchase Liability Studies Funding the Repurchase Obligation CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 5 Session 6: Administration/Recordkeeping Disclosure Requirements Administration Procedures Administration Pitfalls Lost Participants Lost Beneficiaries CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 6 Session 7: Special Problem Areas of Administration Contributions in Excess of 415 Limits Excess 401(k) Deferrals CLICK HERE TO WATCH SESSION 7 Session 8: Accounting Issues Balance Sheet ... 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..

Faltering Economy Highlights Need for a Restructuring of America

Why Is It Necessary to Restructure America? Socialism and communism developed as a reaction to the concentration of ownership and the abusive labor practices that developed in the early stages of capitalism. However, after nearly a century of conflict between these two competing economic systems, a century that witnessed two world wars and a protracted cold war, we have seen in the past 10 years the almost complete collapse of all forms of socialism and communism which were based upon public or state ownership of the means of production. Today, China is the only major industrialized nation which still has an official policy of state ownership of the means of production, although here too this policy is being rapidly eroded by the growth of the private sector economy. However, despite the apparent triumph of capitalism over socialism and communism, despite the passage of labor law legislation during the New Deal ... 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..

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..

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..

ESOP: A New Tax Savings Tool for Owners of S Corporations

“A new dawn greets ESOP companies!” “The Holy Grail of business opportunities beckons: ESOP companies can now operate tax free!” Not since 1984, when the §1042 tax-free rollover was enacted, has the ESOP community bubbled with such enthusiasm. Under the provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, (“EGTRRA”), the ESOP’s share of S corporation earnings will not be subject to federal corporate taxation or to taxation as “unrelated business income tax,” unless the ESOP runs afoul of certain “anti-abuse” provisions. Thus, in the case of an S corporation that is 100% owned by its ESOP, the company’s earnings will be entirely tax exempt. Even the least ebullient of practitioners note that fiduciaries of existing ESOPs now confront a new obligation: to assess whether electing S status would benefit the company and the trust beneficiaries. A Bit of History Until the Small Business Job Protection Act ... Read More..

The ESOP Association 2009 Year-End Legislative Update

S. 1612 – The ESOP Promotion and Improvement Act of 2009: On August 6, 2009, Senator Blanche L. Lincoln (D-AR) introduced S. 1612, the ESOP Promotion and Improvement Act of 2009. The legislation has four sections, including an entirely new proposal to remove a 35 year bias against ESOP companies by the Small Business Administration. One, S. 1612 would repeal the punitive 10% penalty tax on S corporations distributions from current earnings, also referred to as dividends, placed on the distributions from current earnings that are passed through to ESOP participants in cash. Two, S.1612 would clarifY that dividends paid by C corporations on ESOP stock are not a preference item in calculating the corporate alternative minimum tax. Three, S. 1612 improves the 1042 ESOP tax deferred rollover provisions by (a.) permitting sellers to the ESOP of an S corporation to utilize the ESOP tax benefit referred to as the ... Read More..

Tax Alert for Business Owners

Dear Business Owner, This may be the opportune time to take action to avoid the increase in capital gains tax rates that will take effect after 2010. As you may know, the Bush tax rate cuts, including the current 15% capital gains tax rate, are slated to expire at the end of 2010. In addition, if the U.S. economy starts to turn around in the third or fourth quarter of this year, we believe there is a strong possibility that the Obama budget for 2010 will propose an increase in the capital gains tax rate starting in 2010 rather than in 2011. Assuming that you have an interest in locking in the capital gains tax at the current rate but do not wish to sell your entire company to a third party, there are two tax strategies that you can use to lock in the current capital gains tax rate, ... Read More..

New Law on S-ESOP Prohibited Allocations

MEMORANDUM From: Legal Department Date: January 2008 Subject: Prohibited Allocations in S Corp ESOPs 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 1— 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 Nonallocation Year. If a Nonallocation ... Read More..

Highlights Of The Pension Protection Act Of 2006

I. PROVISIONS AFFECTING ESOPS S Corp UBIT Exemption The unrelated business income tax (“UBIT”) exemption that currently applies to S corporation ESOPs, together with the related §409(p) anti-abuse provisions, have been made permanent. These provisions were scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. As the result of PPA, these provisions have been made permanent, and S corporations that sponsor ESOPs will continue to be exempt from income tax and from UBIT to the extent that company stock is held by an ESOPs. ESOP Diversification PPA does not mandate any additional diversification requirements for ESOPs maintained by private companies. Similarly, PPA does not mandate any additional diversification requirements for ESOPs maintained by public companies, provided that the ESOP is a stand-alone plan. The following additional diversification requirements do apply for plan years after December 31, 2006 if the ESOP is maintained by a public company and the ESOP is combined with a ... Read More..

Highlights of EGTRRA 2001

I. INCREASES IN CONTRIBUTION, DEDUCTION AND BENEFIT LIMITS Contribution Deduction Limits. The limit on an employer’s deduction for contributions to a non-leveraged ESOP or a profit sharing plan is increased from 15% to 25% of participants’ aggregate compensation. 401(k) deferrals are not counted for purposes of the deduction limits. However, 401(k) deferrals will be included for purposes of calculating the compensation on which this limit is based. The deduction limit for money purchase pension plans remains at 25%. Effective: Taxable years beginning after 2001. Individual Benefit and Contribution Limits. The dollar limit on “annual additions” to a participant’s account in an ESOP, profit sharing, 401(k) or other defined contribution plan is increased to $40,000 in 2002. The alternative limit of 25% of compensation is increased to 100%. Effective: Limitation years beginning after 2001. Annual Compensation. The maximum annual compensation of a participant that may be used to calculate contributions and ... Read More..

Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001

Comparison of Old and New Provisions Current Law New Law (EGTRRA) I.  Increases in Contribution, Deduction and Benefit Limits Contribution Deduction Limits: An employer’s deduction for contributions (including 401(k) deferral contributions) to a profit sharing or stock bonus plan is limited to 15% of participants’ taxable compensation. The money purchase plan limit is 25%. The 15% deduction limit is increased to 25%. 401(k) deferrals do not count against the limit. Compensation used to determine deductions   includes deferrals. Money purchase plan limit remains at 25%. Effective: Employer’s taxable years beginning after December 31, 2001 Individual Benefit and Contribution Limits: Allocations of employer and employee contributions and forfeitures in a profit sharing, 401(k) or other defined contribution plan cannot be greater than the lesser of (i) 25% of gross pay or (ii) $35,000 (indexed). Allocations of employer and employee contributions and forfeitures cannot be greater than the lesser of (i) 100% of gross pay or (ii) $40,000 (indexed). Effective: Limitation years beginning after December 31, 2001 Annual Compensation: Currently a ... Read More..

Contribution and Allocation Limitations

CONTRIBUTION AND ALLOCATION LIMITATIONS FOR PLAN YEARS ENDING IN 2009 Date: January 2010 C CORPORATION CONTRIBUTION LIMITATIONS (Sec. 404 of the Code): Example: (The Sec. 404 limit is calculated for all employer plans in the aggregate.) Sec. 404 Gross Compensation 1 $245,000.00 Less Sec. 401(k) Salary Reduction 0.00 Less Sec. 125 Salary Reduction 0.00 Net Compensation $245,000.00 x 25% (or 50% if the ESOP is leveraged)2 x 25% Maximum Total Contribution to All Plans 3 $61,250.00 Less Sec. 401(k) Salary Reduction 0.00 Less Employer Matching Contribution ( 2,000.00) Less Employer Discretionary Contribution ( 2,000.00) Maximum ESOP Contribution (Sec. 404) $57,250.00 It should be noted that compensation in excess of $245,000 per individual is excluded for purposes of Sec. 404, but not for purposes of Sec. 415. In the case of C corporation, company contributions are limited to 25% of eligible payroll, provided that the ESOP is not leveraged. If the ESOP is ... Read More..