A question that occasionally comes up in our BizBen Business ProSell program is whether a seller can and should reveal to prospective business buyers that the business produces extra income not reported on business tax returns. The purpose, of course is to let the buyer know there is more income to be made from the business than is posted in the business records.
The expectation behind this admission, is that the buyer will be more inclined to make an offer and at a price that will satisfy the seller, if buyers learn there actually is more money collected than is posted.
But many small business owners, particularly business sales intermediaries, think that lying to the government about the actual business income subject to taxation is a mistake. And bragging about it only compounds the error.
A number of business owners systematically under-report their company's income. Perhaps most get away with it. One reason they can avoid being examined by taxing authorities is that there are far fewer agents than there are business owners who don't pay their required share of taxes. One seller told me that some buyers are more inclined to get into a business, perhaps for the first time, when they learn that being a business owner offers ways to reduce their tax exposure-ways not available if they were working chiefly for someone else. A rather surprising reason some sellers feel they should tell all about unreported income is to make the buyer a co-conspirator in the crime of tax avoidance. "It's insurance against being sued," one owner told me. His reasoning was that a buyer who is disappointed with performance of the company after taking over and has an inclination to accuse the seller of misrepresentation, will think twice about that idea. That's because he might have to testify in court that he is aware of the former owner's practice of illegal tax avoidance and is guilty of neglecting to report it to the IRS.
But it seems an unnecessary risk for the seller to take. And putting a buyer in that awkward position is not the best way to get a business relationship started. Most buyers don't want to hear about anything that is not documented. They don't want to take your word when it applies to the landlord’s promise of a new lease, your customers' verbal pledges to remain loyal or vendor statements that they won’t raise prices. Why would buyer prospects believe that you really collected $80,000 in discretionary earnings last year rather than the $55,000 stated in the books? As one buyer told me, "If I know the seller is not telling the truth to the tax authorities, what makes me think he'll be honest with me?" And talking to a business sales intermediary about unreported income is not a good strategy if you want his or her trust and cooperation.
An owner who admits his or her tax dodge when offering a business for sale may think the tactic will add appeal to the offering and increase chances of getting a sale at a desirable price. But that usually does not work and it's a plan that is likely to backfire with unintended and unwanted consequences.
About This Author: Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor) at BizBen (started in 1994, 8000+ CA businesses for sale/wanted to buy, 500 new & refreshed postings daily). He advises buyers, sellers, brokers, agents, investors, & advisors). Phone him at 866-270-6278 to discuss strategies regarding buying, selling, (or financing a puchase of) CA small to mid-sized businesses.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Joe Sandbank, Esq. - Legal Services
I have provided legal counsel to business buyers, sellers and brokers for over 17 years. With prior experience as a business broker and SBA loan officer, Joe brings both a practical and legal approach to all aspects of the business acquisition process.
|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.
|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 805-428-2063.
|Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - SF Bay Area
McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.
|Janet Carrera - Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|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.
|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.
|Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists
PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|What Factors Are Considered In Valuing A Small Business? Advisors Weigh In
Valuing a small business is not guess work. It's not what some other businesses of the same type may have or may not have been sold for, it's not even what a business owner "feels" they want or deserve. It is a formula based on many factors. Peter Siegel, MBA from BizBen & others discuss this topic.
|If You Plan To Offer Seller Financing: 3 Things Owner Sellers Need to Know
When selling your business, offering seller financing is a great way to help your business standout from others on the market and it is also a good strategy to consider that can help you close a sale. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProSel Program & Financing Expert) explains. Reach him at 866-270-6278.
|Thinking Of Selling My Business: What Factors Create Value And Drive Price?
There are a lot of misconceptions about what enhances the value of a business. The following factors in this Discussion Post on BizBen are aspects of a business that really drives its value and pricing. Business owners thinking of selling should check these out these factors before selling.
|How Do I Navigate Through The Negotiation Process When Buying A Business?
Negotiating the terms of a business deal is a delicate process, where one wrong move can cost you the business that you wanted to purchase. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProBuy Program) discusses the ins and outs of negotiations, and how to work well with the seller to get a deal done.
|I am Buying A Business: Should I Buy The Property As Well? A Good Decision?
There are advantages and disadvantages to owning commercial property. Here are a few questions to ask when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy the property along with the business. Peter Siegel, MBA with the BizBen ProSell Program reviews this issue with potential sellers and intermediaries.
|Buyer Beware: Does A Company's Culture Effect The Sale Of A Small Business?
When purchasing a small to mid-szied CA business, there are a many items to evaluate. One area that is often overlooked is the business's office culture. Peter Siegel, MBA with BizBen discusses with business buyers the importance of understanding how the business "feels" on a day-to-day basis.
|Tips For Faster SBA Loan Approvals For California Small Business Purchases
In this article on BizBen, business purchase financing advisor and SBA loan broker, consultant Peter Siegel (Business Purchase Financing Expert/Advisor & the ProBuy Program Director at BizBen) at 866-270-6278 shares his views of getting SBA loan financing faster for business purchase financing.
|How Many Listings Is Too Many For One Broker To Handle? Is It 5? 10? 20?
Peter Siegel, MBA in this Vlog/Podcast discusses how many listings is too many for one business broker to handle at one time. Is it 5 is it 20? I recently had a coaching call with one of my BizBen broker clients who asked that question this week. There are many factors that go into the answer.
|See All News, Tips And Events|