Structure

Will You Have Pie Leftover?

Scenario #1 - you start with a pie. You give some away. Then you give it all away. Then someone comes along and asks for some. They don't care that you gave it all away already. They want some. You scrape the pie pan and give them some. This continues to happen until it feels like you gave 2 pies away.

Scenario #2 - you start with a pie.  You give some away. Then you give what you think is all of it, but somehow you end up with 2 pieces left. No one comes calling. You have pie leftover.

Both scenarios can happen to a company when filing state income tax returns due to the lack of uniformity among states in filing methodologies, income sourcing, and apportionment methods. This year, states are passing legislation that is not only responding to federal tax reform, but also changing each of these areas for some states. 

Companies should monitor state tax legislation and model out the changes to determine how their income tax liability will shift from state to state. 

The question is - will you have pie leftover or will it feel like you have given 2 pies away when you only had one to begin with?

SALT and STRUCTURE: Keep it Simple Sxxxxx?

Does your company or client operate its business within a simple organizational or entity structure?  Does it operate all of its business activities through one entity or several entities?  

Whether or not your company or client should operate its business through one entity or several entities depends on several factors, such as:

  1. Does the company have more than one business line, product or service?
  2. Does the company manufacture products and provide services as well?
  3. Is the company profitable in general?  Are certain business lines profitable and others are losing money?
  4. Does the company sell wholesale and retail? 
  5. Does the company sell its products and/or services over the Internet?
  6. Does the company have operations in foreign countries?
  7. Does the company have valuable trademarks, patents, copyrights, or other intangibles?
  8. Does the company want to decentralize or centralize certain functions such as, accounting, legal, tax, purchasing, etc.? 
  9. Should the company have separate entities for legal reasons?  Liability reasons?
  10. Does the company want to streamline its supply-chain, obtain economies of scale?

The list could go on and on.  Each case is different, but the goal should be the same - create and utilize a legal and organizational structure that helps the company achieve its business, legal and financial objectives.

Tax purposes or ramifications, whether it is federal tax, international tax, and of course, state and local tax, should attempt to be in alignment with the company's business, legal and financial objectives.  

Therefore, when it comes for a company to decide as to if they should keep a relatively simple structure or create multiple entities, the "keep it simple stupid" mantra may or may not come into play.  The key is to complete the cost/benefit analysis of doing so.  This means weighing the business, legal and financial objectives.  It also means evaluating the tax ramifications.

Note: if you are a long-time subscriber to the LEVERAGE SALT blog, this post may seem familiar. Yes, I originally wrote this post a couple of years ago, but it still applies today. I am in the middle of a big move from Virginia to Tennessee, so please bear with me as I still attempt to provide you with meaningful content. Sometimes a reminder is just as good as something new. Another way to put it is, we don't always need new laws if we would simply enforce our current laws.