Sale Of C Corporation Stock-No Capital Gain-Yes!

August 15th, 2019 at 7:36 PM

Section 1202 allows you to sell a qualified small business corporation (QSBC) on a tax-free basis. 

Now, add to this no-tax-on-sale benefit to the 21 percent corporate tax rate from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and you have a significant tax planning opportunity. 

Imagine this: You sell your C corporation. The sale produces a $6 million capital gain to you. 

Your federal income tax bite on the $6 million of gain is zero. Yes, you are awake. You are reading this correctly. The tax bite is zero. 

Internal Revenue Code Section 1202 establishes the rules for the zero tax bite. To get to zero, you need to operate your business as a tax code-defined QSBC. 

You may already have a tax code-defined small business corporation, or you may be thinking of starting a new business as a small business corporation. Paying zero taxes on the sale of your business stock is a big incentive. 

100 Percent Gain Exclusion Break (Tax-Free Capital Gains)    

To qualify for tax-free capital gains, you must acquire your QSBC stock after September 27, 2010. 

More Than Five Years 

Of course, there’s more than one rule. You must hold your QSBC stock for more than five years to qualify for the tax-free treatment. 

Limitations on Excludable Gains  

Your beloved lawmakers impose limits on your tax-free capital gains from the sale of a particular QSBC. In any taxable year, the tax limits on your eligible gain exclusion may not exceed the greater of 

Example 1: $10 Million Limitation 

You are a married joint filer. You invested $100,000 when you started your C corporation in 2012. 

Now, in 2019 (more than five years after the start), you sell the stock in the C corporation for $6.1 million. You have tax-free capital gains equal to the greater of 

  1. $1 million (10 x $100,000), or
  2. $6 million (because it’s less than $10 million).

You have $6 million of tax-free capital gains. 

Example 2: 10-Times-the-Basis Limitation 

You are an unmarried individual. You invest $2 million in a single QSBC stock this year. 

In 2025, more than five years from now, you sell this stock for $24 million, resulting in a total gain of $22 million ($24 million – $2 million). The tax code limits your tax-free gain to the greater of 

In 2025, you have $20 million in tax-free capital gains and $2 million in taxable capital gains. You have to be smiling. 

Definition of QSBC Stock  

To be eligible for the QSBC gain exclusion, the stock you acquire must meet the requirements set forth in Section 1202 of our beloved Internal Revenue Code. Those requirements include the following: 

Next, you have to look at the rules that apply to the corporation. To qualify as a QSBC, the following rules apply. 

Rules for the Corporation 

The corporation must be a domestic C corporation. 

The corporation must satisfy an active business requirement. That requirement is deemed satisfied if at least 80 percent (by value) of the corporation’s assets are used in the active conduct of a qualified business. 

Beware. Qualified businesses do not include 

The corporation’s gross assets cannot exceed $50 million before the stock is issued and immediately after the stock is issued (which considers amounts received for the stock). 

I did not cover all the rules that apply. But I wanted to give you a good handle on how this planning opportunity can work to your benefit. If you would like to spend some time with me going over the possibilities for you, please call me on my direct line at xxx-xxx-xxxx. 

Mark S. Fineberg, CPA


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