A taxable sale of a business might be structured as an installment sale if the buyer lacks sufficient cash or pays a contingent amount based on the business’s performance. An installment sale also may make sense if the seller wishes to spread the gain over a number of years — which could be especially beneficial if it would allow the seller to stay under the thresholds for triggering the 3.8% net investment income tax or the 20% long-term capital gains rate.
But an installment sale can backfire on the seller. For example:
- Depreciation recapture must be reported as gain in the year of sale, no matter how much cash the seller receives.
- If tax rates increase, the overall tax could wind up being more.
Please let us know if you’d like more information on installment sales — or other aspects of tax planning in mergers and acquisitions. Of course, tax consequences are only one of many important considerations.