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Business Succession: How to Minimize Your Tax Burden

Whether it’s due to retirement or death, the succession of a business is a challenging process. One of the major elements of succession that will be on your mind is your potential tax burden, not to mention that of your children or other future owners. Here are a few key tips to consider.

Understand Capital Gains Tax

The act of gifting, bequeathing, or selling your shares (a “deemed disposition”) will usually be subject to capital gains tax based on the appreciation or depreciation of their fair market value. The lifetime capital gains exemption is designed to allow qualifying businesses to reduce their capital gains tax burden. An estate freeze, meanwhile, allows business owners to exchange their common shares for fixed-value preferred shares and issue new common shares to their successors without being subject to capital gains tax. The applicability and details of these and other strategies will vary depending on your business and its circumstances.

Utilize Life Insurance

Another useful tax strategy among many business owners planning for succession is to leverage the advantages of a good life insurance plan. This is, of course, only applicable in the event that your business is passed down due to your death. Tax expenses can cut significantly into the value of your company shares as a disposed asset, but if you’ve taken out a strong and well-structured life insurance plan, its proceeds can significantly offset the tax burden of business succession for your family. The policy itself can be owned either by you or by the company itself, which is another decision that an accountant can help you with.

Think Ahead

It is of the utmost importance to remember that succession planning is not an event, it’s a process. An effective succession plan will take quite a bit of time to fully form, so the more you plan ahead, the better. Consider your circumstances. Are you intending to retire from the business soon? Do you have a plan in place in case of your death or sudden health problems? There are countless ways to maximize the tax-efficiency for your business now that will enhance the benefits of succession strategies later. This, in addition to ongoing changes in tax law, is why it’s so critical to explore the options available to you. Don’t wait too long to speak with a CPA.

When you’ve worked hard to build a business, it’s only right that you have the tools you need to ensure its longevity within and beyond your lifetime. It’s our objective at Cook & Company to help you accomplish this and more. Call us at (403) 398-2486 for a complimentary consultation!

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