Congress created ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) to foster employee ownership so that employees might share in their employers’ successes. To entice owners to implement ESOPs, the proceeds of the sale of the company’s shares to an ESOP are tax deferred, so long as certain requirements are met.
Congress has chosen to bestow a variety of significant tax benefits on business owners and companies that participate in a special ownership structure. Because it is very difficult for a fully taxable ownership structure to compete with a tax-advantaged structure, many business owners should evaluate the possibilities under this special structure, known commonly as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP structure provides shareholder and corporate tax benefits which require proper consideration and transaction structuring to ensure maximum benefit.
Often business owners who are interested in bringing liquidity to their holdings seek only a sale to disinterested third parties. And that frequently works out just fine for both the buyer and seller. But sometimes the personal emotional strings attached to the business, whether on the surface or not, are simply too strong to break the ties and turn control over to “the new guys on the block.”
Transportation companies are thriving today. But the industry’s most coveted asset, its drivers, are being heavily courted in a competitive employment environment. For a majority of transportation companies, driver satisfaction goes hand in hand with company reputation, customer satisfaction and success. The American Trucking Associations (“ATA”) reports that the transportation industry has struggled with driver shortages over the past 15 years. The shortage further exacerbates profit margin as the recent tight labor market has given rise to increased wages for drivers.
Are you a business owner considering a partial or total ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan)? If so, you are likely to find that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will produce greater benefits for you and your company’s stakeholders than before the law was passed.
Late last year Congress passed the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Although the plan does not alter ESOP legislation, there are some indirect effects on ESOPs. Some of the changes will impact the valuations of ESOP-owned companies.
In this favorable market, how do sellers contemplating an exit from their business decide whether to pursue an M&A sell-side transaction or the formation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)? They don’t. Instead, they run a dual track process which incorporates both processes. This provides the owners knowledge of both possible outcomes simultaneously. Now the owner can make the best choice based on actual offers and company specific options.
As privately held businesses mature and grow in value, the desire for, and prudence of, personal liquidity and diversification grows in importance to business owners. When much of one’s personal net worth is tied to a highly successful, yet illiquid business, the owners are often faced with the question “how can I personally diversify yet remain in control of my company”?
Join PCE for NCEO’s two-day ESOP Symposium specifically designed to address issues facing established ESOPs. The ESOP Symposium is a gathering of the countries leading ESOP experts providing the most up to date information about ESOPs. Presentations will cover best practices related to governance, financing, operations, repurchase obligation, and culture. You will also have an opportunity to network with other ESOP companies. Additional details, agenda and registration information can be viewed here.
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