Valuation Discounts for Gift of Single-Member LLC Interests

Posted on December 8 2009 by admin

In a split decision by the U.S. Tax Court (Suzanne J. Pierre v. Comm., 133 T.C. No. 2), the court dealt with the issue as to whether a single-member LLC is to be disregarded for transfer tax purposes (i.e., gift tax purposes), thus treating the gift as a direct gift of the underlying property of the LLC. A single-member LLC has the option to be treated as an association taxable as a corporation or as an entity disregarded as an entity separate from its owner. The IRS regulations implementing these rules are known as the “check-the-box” regulations.   If no election is made by the taxpayer, the default rule is that the entity is disregarded as an entity separate from its owner. In other words, the owner of the LLC is treated as the owner of the property.

The basic facts in the case were as follows. The taxpayer received a cash gift of $10 million in 2000 from a wealthy friend (we should all have friends like this!) and wished to provide for her son and daughter. Taxpayer created the Pierre Family LLC on July 13, 2000 and created a trust for each of her children on July 24, 2000.   Funding of the LLC occurred on September 15, 2000 with the transfer of $4.25 million in cash. The LLC was validly formed under New York state law.  Taxpayer then made the following transfers to each of the trusts on September 27, 2000:

• Gift of 9.5% member interest in the LLC
• Sale of 40.5% member interest in the LLC

The value of both the gifts and the sales were based on independent valuations that included a discount for lack of marketability of approximately 37%. The IRS claimed that the entity should be disregarded for gift tax purposes resulting in a direct gift of the cash to the trusts. Taxpayer argued that the LLC should not be disregarded for gift tax purposes.

The full Court reviewed the case and the majority held in favor of the taxpayer. The Court noted that state law creates property rights and the Federal tax law defines only the Federal tax treatment of those property rights. The Court also noted that the check-the-box regulations govern how a single-member LLC will be taxed for income tax purposes, either as an association taxable as a corporation or as a disregarded entity (i.e., a sole proprietorship). To go farther than this classification would be tantamount to redefining the property rights actually transferred. Six judges disagreed with the majority arguing that the plain language of the check-the-box regulations requires the LLC to be disregarded as an entity separate from its owner for gift tax purposes.

The Court did not consider the issue of whether the step-transaction doctrine should be applied thus treating the transfer of the interests were indirect transfers of the underling cash nor whether the amount of the valuation discount was appropriate, leaving these two significant issues to future resolution of litigation.

Steve Koons, CPA/ABV, ASA, CFF

Be Sociable, Share!

Welcome

We believe that this service to our clients, and other interested parties, will bring valued information to those involved in and in need of valuation and forensic services. We bring with us years of knowledge and experience that can provide you with the information you need, or at least a little insight into the business valuation and forensic accounting worlds. As we provide weekly information to you, our reader, we value your input and feedback. We will also share that feedback with others, as we find appropriate. Welcome to Perspectives. We hope you find it informative and worthy of your time.


Before posting a comment on a blog post please be aware that we do not give free advice to non-clients by email, comment response, or phone. Thank you!

Contact Us

Newsletter Signup

Recent Posts

Archives



Links

ValuationSpeak The focus of ValuationSpeak is on valuation (and value). The target audience is business appraisers, as well as accountants and attorneys who have a direct interest in valuation as advisers to business owners.

Twitter

Categories