Market says value of S Corps and C Corps differ, says Van Vleet

BVWireIssue #109-3
October 19, 2011

During the past 25 years, the number of S corporations and LLC’s has mushroomed from 750,000 IRS tax filings to about 6 million, according to Dan Van Vleet (Stout Risius Ross), who spoke at last week’s 2011 ASA Advanced BV Conference. During this same time, C Corp filings have declined from about 2.5 million to just under 2 million, Van Vleet added.  “The market is telling us something here about the relative value of S corps and C corps.”

And for the first time, in Estate of Gallagher the Tax Court considered a tax-affecting analysis that included “an S Corp value premium to the C Corp equivalent value,” Van Vleet said. Although Judge Halpern (who also wrote Gross v. Commissioner) ultimately rejected the analysis for lack of convincing support, he also acknowledged the theoretical rationale for tax affecting: i.e., that most data on which appraisers base private stock values is derived from publicly traded C corps. That may leave the door open for a better-reasoned—and better-supported—tax-affecting analysis to persuade the Tax Court in the future.  

What went wrong in Gallagher? According to Van Vleet, the analysis:

  • Failed to reflect the full tax benefits associated with S Corps vis-a-vis C Corp;
  • Contemplated only the dividend tax savings associated with S Corps based on the expected distributions of the subject S Corp;
  • Ignored the S Corp capital gains tax benefit associated with retained earnings; and
  • Was not peer-reviewed and was only sparsely supported by the expert’s report, with no supporting articles or authority.

And it doesn’t end with tax-affecting. In Gallagher, the Tax Court took on a bulleted list of valuation techniques and “tough” spots, including adjustments to a DCF analysis and the reliability of the guideline public company method. To fully appreciate the impact of this case on your current practice, tune in tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 20, as BVR kicks off its 2011 Online Tax Summit with, “Estate of Gallagher: How the Court Sees the State of Business Valuation,” featuring  Chris Mercer (Mercer Capital) and attorney L. Paul Hood, Jr.

Consider continuing your tax and valuation curriculum with the rest of the Summit series, including a Lawyers Roundtable  on Oct. 28, followed by a Judges Roundtable: View From the Bench on Nov. 4 (both moderated by Jay Fishman); and culminating with Valuing a Majority Fractional Interest on Nov. 11, with Neil Mills-Mazer (IRS).

New survey asks: What’s the right number of BV credentials?

A current discussion on LinkedIn brought up the recent debate on BV credentialing and the effect of any perceived competition among BV professional organizations. One commentator asked: “Are these calls for a single BV credentialing standard implemented across all organizations; unification of regulatory requirements (IRS, USPAP, DOL, etc.); or perhaps state licensing of business appraisers to ensure quality and standardization?”

One respondent suggested that a survey of BV appraisers might be a telling way, not to belabor any dispute, but to sound out the profession on possible solutions. To that end, please participate in our latest, quick and convenient online poll.  It’s only two questions, and we’ll keep your responses anonymous when analyzing the results for next week’s ’Wire.

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