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Should Sellers Of Small Businesses Give Potential Buyers Their Tax Returns?

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Comments & Replies: 2     Views: 1065     Posted By: Joe Ranieri  

Should small business owners/sellers give potential buyers direct access to their tax returns (and potentially to copies direct from the IRS) either before or during the due diligence process? Several business brokers and advisors discuss this topic on BizBen Discussions.

Topics: Buying A Business, Due Diligence, Selling A Business     Tags: buying a business, due diligence, selling a business



As a seller, with regards to due diligence, should I give a buyer "third party authorization" to inspect my tax returns directly from the Internal Revenue Service?

This issue recently came up in a transaction that I was working on. I was selling a mini-mart to a buyer who had been an accountant for 20 years, and he did his due diligence by way of visual observation, register tape, sales tax filings, and was about ready to open escrow when he demanded the seller give him authorization to receive the tax returns directly from the IRS. The buyer was convinced that the tax returns could be fraudulent or doctored from the ones that were officially filed with the IRS. The seller created a counter offer that they would not authorize the buyer to pull tax returns directly from a government agency. The buyer balked, and the deal died.

It's been my general rule that a seller should give as much information about the business as possible during the due diligence period, and a buyer should be completely satisfied. It has been my experience that the majority of buyers do not want "third party authorization" for tax returns directly from the IRS, and are usually satisfied with inspecting the seller's copies, but if the buyer does not feel comfortable and not proceed because of it then that is their choice.


After a contract is in place and due diligence has begun, tax returns are fair game. And, the prudent buyer receives them directly from the IRS with seller approval. A seller who refuses to allow independent verification of his tax returns, does so at his peril -- the buyer quite rightly should be suspicious and may very justifiably kill the deal.


  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses

Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services

California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.

Mark Chatow, Esq.: Legal Services For Buying, Selling Businesses

Mark has a broad range of small business purchase & sale experience from analyzing potential acquisition targets to successfully guiding buyers and sellers through the purchase & sale of small businesses. Mark can assist with contracts, negotiations, legal matters, etc. Reach Mark at 949-478-8393.

Helen Yoo: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California

New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.

Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Services

Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 800-864-0420.

Rick Carlson, Business Broker - Southern California

You Will Never Feel Lost In The Shuffle. Many Brokers Simply Send Out An NDA And That's The End Of Communication. All Buyers Receive A Personal Meeting With An Ace Acquisition Specialist So They Can Recommend The Perfect Business For You. Phone Rick direct at 800-985-4939.

Mike Brewer: Liquor License Brokers, ABC Consulting Services

Liquor license brokerage and consulting services. We provide: Alcohol License Transfers Application Consulting & Processing, Liquor License Purchases & Sales, City Zoning Permits & Land Use Entitlements, Public Convenience or Necessity Findings and Letters. Phone Mike Brewer direct at 800-437-1100.

Bob Baumgarten, Business Broker: Orange, LA Counties

National Business Brokerage is a full service brokerage company that has been serving buyers and sellers of Southern California businesses since 1994. We are dedicated to providing the highest standards of professional service for our clients. Phone Bob direct at 949-588-8727.

Ryan Clark, Business Broker, Southern California

The Veld Group provides a refreshing approach to Business Brokerage, Mergers & Acquisitions and Business Consulting and Valuations. From Your Street to Wall Street, we cater to Main Street Businesses as well as more complex Strategic Firms and Start-Ups. Phone Ryan at 310-652-8353.


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