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Getting Down To Brass Tax

You’ve probably noticed by now that Benchmark International is growing. Geographic expansion is the most obvious outward sign of our growth. We didn’t reinvent the wheel of corporate strategy. Given the current economic climate, many other organizations are expanding geographically as well. They’re looking to capture a greater share of their existing markets, penetrate new markets, and attract new talent amongst many other things. These decisions, in terms of geographic expansion, are usually more calculated than many of us would or will ever realize.

While organizations are expanding geographically, many of these organizations are relocating their headquarters altogether. There are a few easily discernible and comprehensible considerations for expansion/relocation with many of them relating to taxation. We’ve witnessed the exodus from the Northeast to the South, really since the commercialization of air conditioning, but now we are seeing movement from all directions into the South. Quite frankly, the tax landscape is much friendlier in the South.

The multi-billion dollar leasing giant Hertz (NYSE: HTZ) announced in 2013 that they were relocating from Park Ridge, NJ to Estero, FL. They distinctly noted that the cost of doing business in New Jersey had become too much in comparison to other states such as Florida. In fact, the state of Florida and Lee County offered Hertz $84mm in tax credits. Florida’s corporate tax rate is noticeably more appealing at 5.5% compared to New Jersey’s 9%. Another selling point was Florida’s income tax rate of 0% in comparison to New Jersey’s bracketed income tax up to 8.97%. You might ask, why would income tax rates factor into Hertz or any company’s decision to expand or relocate? Well, Florida’s 0% income tax has been a noticeable driver behind its population growth. Consequently, the talent pool is expanding rapidly and the talent pool is undoubtedly a draw for a multi-billion dollar organization like Hertz. Between the glaring differences in tax rates, the county and state tax credits offered, and many other tax factors not discussed here (property tax for instance), it was an easy decision for Hertz to relocate.

Another case of corporate relocation to the South is that of CKE Restaurants. You’re probably familiar with their Frisco Thickburger making fast-food restaurants: Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. They announced in 2016 that they were consolidating their St. Louis, MO and Carpinteria, CA corporate offices and moving them to Franklin, TN. Much like Hertz’s case, the tax implications were too great to ignore. California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84% in comparison to 6.5% for Tennessee. Tennessee’s income tax rate is 0% (with the exception of dividends) in comparison to California’s bracketed income tax up to a staggering 12.3%.

We could discuss at length several other advantages, especially relating to taxation, of expanding or relocating to the South, but these are just some of the most transparent ones. Barring a dramatic philosophical shift in tax philosophy in the South, it seems that we’ll continue to witness substantial business growth for big and small businesses alike.

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What are EBITDA Multiples?

Adjusted EBITDA is a term often used in mergers and acquisitions. EBITDA is defined as “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.” It is the net income of a business plus interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization added to it. Adjusted EBITDA “adds-back” expenses a current owner may run through a business that do not reflect the typical costs to support operations. Typical add-backs include expenses that: 1) may be unusual or linked to a certain event (like a bad debt write-off or expenses related to move the business); 2) are at the discretion of the current owner (for example, payments to a spouse or child that is not active in the business); or 3) compensation to an owner or family member that may be more than the cost to replace the duties performed by that person. Typically, historical figures for adjusted EBITDA are used as a proxy to reflect the income stream a business will generate in the future.

Why is adjusted EBITDA important? Because it is commonly used to calculate, or impute, the value that is being put on a business. Value is a product of multiplying adjusted EBITDA by an EBITDA multiple. Value = An Income Stream times a Multiple. Conversely, Value divided by an Income Stream (like EBITDA) = Multiple. This is the same concept as a price to earnings multiple in the stock market. However, in the world of mergers and acquisitions, adjusted EBITDA is the income stream commonly used to determine value.

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Why the time is now to sell your business, more than ever

Posted on March 5, 2018 By in Tax + Business Tips + Time To Sell + Tips + Tax Cut

Earlier this week, projections for increases in the Federal Funds Rate increased from three 25 basis point increases in 2018 and one in 2019 to four and two respectively. As a “basis” point is 1/100th of a percent and a “25 basis point increase” is an increase of 1/4 of one percent, this means that rater than increasing by 0.75% in 2018, experts now expect a 1.00% increase for the year and a 0.50% increase as opposed to 0.25% increase next year.

This happened because (a) the recent tax cut is expected to boost GDP by an extra 0.3%, (b) the even more recent government spending bill, which is modestly termed “generous”, is also expected to add 0.3% to GDP, and (c) the regulatory roll-back that has occurred over the last 12 months is expected to add another 0.3% to 0.6% to GDP.

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