In complex arrangements between individuals and corporations they own, multiple factors can impact Enrolled Agent jobs for rendering accurate tax advice. The case of Harold Schmeets certainly illustrates such circumstances. Schmeets is the person who sold his insurance agency in Harvey, North Dakota, and incurred challenges by the IRS from several fronts.
Schmeets agreed to installment payments for sale of his agency, which was held by a corporation. He retained the corporation as sole shareholder. The arrangement was only a sale of corporate assets. As pointed out in an Enrolled Agent study course, asset sales are much different events than sales of corporation stock shares. Schmeets also committed to remaining with the agency during its transition to new ownership.
The combined payment of salary and sales proceeds presented an enlightening scenario for Enrolled Agent education. The IRS wanted Schmeets to claim most of the payment as sales proceeds. This would require accounting of the funds as part of the corporation’s asset sale. The corporation would therefore incur the tax impact. A second tax would arise when the corporation paid dividends to Schmeets.
The Tax Court allowed Schmeets to claim most of the payments he received as salary for his continued services to the sold agency. But, this was not the only matter before the court. When the corporation sold its insurance agency, it issued a note to Schmeets in the amount of $120,000 as a bonus. At this point, Schmeets needed some sound tax advice because the note was simply created out of thin air without any offsetting accounting entry.
The corporation did not claim a tax deduction for the bonus when the note was issued or when payment of the debt eventually occurred ten years later. Of course, this meant that Schmeets never declared the bonus as personal income. A presentation of these facts for an Enrolled Agent tax expert would have triggered considerable inquiry. Somehow, the funds from the corporation to Schmeets must represent personal taxable income. Unfortunately for Schmeets, he allowed his corporation to treat some payments as tax-deductible interest expense and then claimed the 2009 payoff as nontaxable loan repayment.
The IRS challenged the bogus debt and the Tax Court agreed. Payments by the corporation to Schmeets were distributions of equity. No interest deduction was allowed for the corporation. Despite the claim by Schmeets that the loan was authentic, the court pointed out that the note did not have a specified maturity date or security. The court concluded that Schmeets did not truly intend to enforce collection and that repayment was tied to successful operation of the corporation. The contribution to Enrolled Agent preparation by this case is that tax advice must consider substance over form. Simply calling something a debt doesn’t necessarily make it so.
IRS Circular 230 Disclosure
Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.