Electrical Industry – Top 10 Tax Questions

Electrical Industry – Top 10 Tax Questions

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Smith Schafer Tax Manager, Kyle Spicer, gave a tax presentation at the Minnesota Electrical Association Partner & Profit event. He discusses the TOP 10 tax questions we hear from electrical industry business owners.

Follow the steps below to receive your copy of the presentation to learn more about the answers to these questions:

Enter your email below to download your copy of the presentation.

Presentation: Business Valuations for SBA and Banking Purposes

Presentation: Business Valuations for SBA and Banking Purposes

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Smith Schafer Principal, John Edson, presented a free educational seminar Business Valuations for SBA and Banking Purposes at the Rochester Golf & Country Club. Click below to view full presentation.

Want to learn more about Smith Schafer events? Click here to view upcoming seminar and register!


If you would like to learn more about business valuations for SBA and banking purposes business, Smith Schafer can help. For additional information click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

C Corporations – Tax Reform Affecting Tax Planning

C Corporations – Tax Reform Affecting Tax Planning

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the biggest changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is the permanent installation of a flat 21% federal income tax rate for C corporations for tax years beginning after 2017. The new 21% rate applies equally to personal service corporations (PSCs). (Under prior law, PSCs were taxed more heavily than other C corporations.)

This is great news if you own or manage a C corporation, including a PSC. Here are specific tax planning considerations for these entities under the TCJA:


With the reduced federal income tax rate for C corporations, tax planning is now much easier, because you know this year’s rate and next year’s rate: 21%. Therefore, the generally appropriate strategy is to defer income into next year and accelerate deductible expenditures into this year. That way, you postpone corporate federal income tax bills.

Most small and medium businesses are now allowed to use cash-method accounting for tax purposes, thanks to other changes included in the TCJA. Assuming your business is eligible, cash-method accounting gives you flexibility to manage your corporation’s 2018 and 2019 taxable income to defer some corporate federal income tax until next year.

Examples of ways to defer income include:

Delaying invoices. On the income side, the general rule for cash-basis taxpayers is you do not have to report income until the year you receive payment. To take advantage of this rule, put off sending out some invoices so your corporation does not get paid until early next year. Of course, you should never do this if it raises the risk of not collecting your money.

Charging recurring expenses before year end. You can charge recurring business expenses that your corporation would otherwise pay early next year on credit cards. Cash-basis taxpayers can claim 2018 deductions even though the credit card bills won’t be paid until next year. However, this favorable treatment does not apply to store revolving charge accounts. For example, you cannot deduct business expenses charged to your Sears account until you pay the bill.

Paying expenses with checks and mail them a few days before year end. The tax rules say cash-basis taxpayers can deduct the expenses in the year checks are mailed, even though they won’t be cashed or deposited until early next year. For big-ticket expenses, send checks via registered or certified mail. That helps prove they were mailed this year.

Prepaying expenses for next year. Cash-basis taxpayers can deduct prepaid expenses in the current tax year as long as the economic benefit from the prepayment does not extend beyond the earlier of: 

  1. ) 12 months after the first date on which your company realizes the benefit, or 
  2. ) the end of your company’s 2019 tax year (the tax year following the year in which the payment is made).

For example, this rule allows your company to claim 2018 deductions for prepaying the first three months of next year’s office rent or the premium for property insurance coverage for the first half of next year.


For qualified property acquired and placed in service between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022 (or December 31, 2023 for certain property with longer production periods and aircraft), the TCJA increases the first-year bonus depreciation percentage to 100% (from 50% for most of 2017). This break is allowed for both new and used qualified property. As long as 100% first-year bonus depreciation is allowed, it is superior to the Section 179 deduction privilege (explained below), because there are fewer restrictions on bonus depreciation.


For qualifying property placed in service in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the TCJA permanently increases the maximum Section 179 deduction to $1 million (from $510,000 for tax years beginning in 2017). The Sec. 179 deduction phase-out threshold also has been increased to $2.5 million (from $2.03 million under prior law). Both amounts can be adjusted for inflation in future years.

In addition, the TCJA expands the definition of eligible property to include certain depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging. Examples of such property include beds, other furniture, kitchen appliances, and other equipment used in the living quarters of a lodging facility such as an apartment house, dormitory or any other facility (or part of a facility) where sleeping accommodations are provided and rented out.

The definition of qualified real property eligible for the Sec. 179 deduction is further expanded to include qualified expenditures for roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems for nonresidential real property.

As under prior law, Sec. 179 deductions can still be claimed for qualifying real property expenditures, up to the maximum annual allowance ($1 million for tax years beginning in 2018). There’s no separate limit for real property expenditures, so Sec. 179 deductions claimed for real property reduce the maximum annual allowance dollar for dollar.


Purchasing large SUVS, pickups and vans can provide major tax advantages. Thanks to the unlimited 100% first-year bonus depreciation break for qualified assets that are acquired and placed in service between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022, you can generally write off 100% of the cost of a new or used heavy SUV, pickup or van that’s acquired and placed in service in current tax year on this year’s corporate tax return.

To cash in on this favorable tax treatment, you must buy a “heavy” vehicle with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 6,000 pounds. First-year depreciation deductions for lighter SUVs, trucks, vans and passenger cars are much skimpier. You can usually find a vehicle’s GVWR specification on a label on the inside edge of the driver’s side door where the hinges meet the frame.

For example, suppose your C corporation buys a $65,000 heavy SUV in 2018. You can write off the entire $65,000 cost in the current tax year thanks to the 100% first-year bonus depreciation break. This break is available for both new and used heavy vehicles.

In contrast, suppose your corporation spends the same $65,000 on a car or a light pickup or van. In this scenario, the first-year depreciation write-off will be only $18,000, including $8,000 of first-year bonus depreciation.


As its name implies, the new tax law includes many provisions that help C corporations cut their tax bills. In many ways, it also simplifies tax planning for C corporations. A Smith Schafer professional can supply more details on what is covered here and suggest other creative tax-planning moves for your business. 

10 Reasons for a Business Valuation

10 Reasons for a Business Valuation

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Most business owners are reactive when it comes to having their businesses valued. But there are many times it pays to be proactive. Some valuations are necessities, such as for determining the value of the business interest in an estate. Others are obtained for more elective reasons, but are helpful to business owners nevertheless and help business owners with planning strategies. 

It is a good idea to review these common valuation scenarios, so you can identify when it is time to obtain your own valuation. Below are 10 reasons to have your business or a business interest valued.


  • Business succession transactions may be accomplished by gifting the ownership to family. Gifting is most common with family successions.
  • The business may be sold to employees, third parties, or may be combined with some amount of gifting. This type of transfer of ownership will be based on the value determined when the business is valued on an as-is, on-going basis.
  • Businesses may be sold to a strategic buyer (someone in the industry). A transaction with a strategic buyer usually occurs at a value higher than the amount determined with for a traditional transfer to family, employees or an individual buyer with no other connections to the industry. The buyer may incorporate the revenue streams into their existing business and will be able to achieve increased profit and cash flow by consolidating specific overhead expenses. 
    Example: Two facilities may not be needed and common business functions, such as administrative may be consolidated and the costs may be eliminated. A specific Valuation engagement may be performed to determine an estimated value of the business if it is sold to a strategic buyer.


  • You might need a business valuation not only to file an estate tax return, but also to provide guidance to the personal representative to fulfill the terms of the decedent’s will.
  • As long as the federal (and some state) estate tax remains in place, it is likely that effecting a gift to minimize ultimate estate tax will require the valuation of a business or a business interest.


  • A valuation is typically performed when a company acquires another company, is targeted for an acquisition, reorganizes its capital structure, splits up or files for bankruptcy while in liquidation or reorganization.
  • A merger generally requires both parties to get a valuation, while in an acquisition, it may only be one party.
  • These valuations may create challenges, which require the valuation analyst to calculate cash equivalents for payment (i.e. stock versus cash).


  • A valuation may be necessary in order for a business to develop a buy/sell agreement. These agreements can serve tax or business purposes. If a sale will involve related parties, a valuation might be necessary to insure a proper value for estate and gift tax purposes. 
  • A buy/sell agreement allows an owner in a closely-held business to acquire the interest of another owner in the event another owner decides to retire, exit, or passes away.
  • These agreements many times include a designated price or formula to determine the price the remaining owners would pay to acquire the interest of the exiting owner.
  • This price or formula should be occasionally reviewed by a valuation analyst in order to keep up to date with the performance of the company over time.


  • Ownership disputes result from many different circumstances, most commonly including: disagreements between owners, disagreement with a merger or dissolution, or other related issues.
  • Many states allow businesses to merge, dissolve, or restructure without a unanimous ownership consent.  This may result in a dispute that requires a valuation as part of the settlement process.


  • In the event of a business transaction (i.e. merger, acquisition, sale, etc.), the purchaser and the seller need to properly record the sale.
  • Inconsistent and inappropriate allocation of the purchase price may result in an increased tax liability, and even penalties.
  • A valuation analyst will consider the differences in business goodwill over personal goodwill and the various state laws applying to these transactions and calculations.


  • When a private business owner gets divorced, a valuation may be required to divide the marital estate, whether by agreement of the parties or by a judge through a trial. Often both sides obtain separate valuations, but there is also a movement toward collaborative divorces in which the parties agree to hire a single valuation analyst.


  • Closely-held business owners will sometimes pursue a valuation in order to determine a value necessary to cover their business interest value if something were to happen to them. This value is then purchased as “key person insurance.”
  • In the event something happens, the insurance could payout value to the owner’s family to allow them to continue the owner’s role, or buy themselves out of the owner’s role. These rules are subject to buy/sell agreements and terms within the key person insurance policy.


  • Financial institutions and the SBA may require a business valuation in order to underwrite and approve a loan especially when the loan is to acquire a business or a business interest.
  • Typically, financial statements are presented at historical cost.  A valuation will provide the bank with fair market value amounts that can support a loan.

10.  ESOP

  • An employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP) is an employee benefit plan that invests in employer common stock. ESOPs provide capital, liquidity, and certain tax advantages to those private businesses whose owners do not wish to go public.
  • A valuation must be performed annually for an ESOP. This valuation determines the price per share for the beneficiaries of the ESOP plan. It is a very important valuation, because the ESOP trustees may be held personally liable if a beneficiary receives less than the fair market value of the stock.
  • This is required in order to comply with IRS and Department of Labor rules.

This is but a partial list of potential reasons to have your business valued. In each of these instances, it is important to have your business valued by a credential valuation professional. Smith Schafer works with business owners, in multiple industries, to uncover the true value of their companies’ tangible and intangible assets. 

We look forward to speaking with you!

Building Value in Your Business

Building Value in Your Business

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Smith Schafer Valuation Expert, John Edson, presented at our free educational seminar at Rochester Golf & Country Club April 25, 2018. John discussed building value in your business. Click below to view full presentation.


If you would like to learn more about building value in your business, Smith Schafer can help. For additional information click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

What Is the Standard of Value in Divorce?

What Is the Standard of Value in Divorce?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Business valuation is an evolving discipline. In some jurisdictions, investment value — rather than fair market value — has emerged as the preferred standard of value in some divorce cases. This trend is important to monitor to ensure your valuation expert estimates the correct standard of value. If not, a court may disregard his or her conclusion.

Investment Value Definition

Fair market value, which is the most common standard of value, estimates the value that the universe of hypothetical buyers and sellers would agree on for an interest in the subject company. It is customarily defined by IRS Revenue Ruling 59-60, but it also may be appropriate for valuations prepared for purposes other than federal taxes.

On the other hand, investment value captures “the value to a particular investor based on individual investment requirements and expectations,” according to the International Glossary of Business Valuation Terms. (This publication is a joint effort of the most prominent business valuation organizations.)

Investment value reflects a particular investor’s subjective goals regarding expected returns, acceptable risk, desired tax attributes, and potential synergies with other businesses. This type of investor could be a potential equity or debt holder — or an existing or prospective operator-owner — traditionally in a merger and acquisition.

Some jurisdictions have begun to use investment value — also known as the “value to the holder” — to determine business value to distribute assets equitably between the parties in a divorce.


According to the business valuation textbook, Standards of Value: Theory and Applications:

“Value to the holder considers the business or business interest in the hands of its owner, regardless of whether he or she intends to sell the business. It further assumes that the entitled spouse will continue to enjoy the benefits generated by a business that was created or appreciated during the marriage.”

In a divorce context, the use of investment value — rather than fair market value — it an important distinction to make, because affects a valuator’s assumptions and methodology. For example, when estimating investment value for a divorce, an appraiser might consider the actual tax burden of a pass-through entity, rather than the taxes the company would incur if it operated as a C corporation.

When an appraiser applies the investment value standard, valuation discounts for lack of control and marketability are usually less relevant, especially if one spouse controls the business. That’s because the goal is to measure the full value of the interest to the husband and wife, not the universe of all buyers and sellers who might discount private business interests. As a Virginia court opined in Patel v. Patel (2013 VA App. LEXIS 110):

“Courts valuing marital property for the purpose of making a monetary award must determine…that value which represents the property’s intrinsic worth to the parties.”

Investment value may contradict with how some jurisdictions treat personal goodwill, however. Courts in some states have interpreted the law to mean that investment value eliminates some (or all) personal goodwill from the value of the interest. Others contend that you cannot summarily exclude personal goodwill if the intention is to measure the full value of the interest to the husband and wife. This remains a controversial topic among business valuation professionals.


There is more than one way to define the term “value.” Investment value is an alternative to fair market value. It started as way to help debt and equity investors estimate value in business combinations and strategic decision-making. Now divorce courts are also embracing investment value when splitting up marital assets. But the overriding goal remains the same: To measure the full value to a particular investor, which are the owner-operating or investor in a sale — or the husband and wife in a marital dissolution case.