Buying a Business

Choquette & Company Accounting Group Inc. - Buying a Business

Buying a Businesss

Buying a business needs to involve careful planning and guidance from your Dedicated Accountant. There are several factors that can have an effect on both taxation and the ability to finance.

Your Dedicated Accountant and our team are here along with your business purchase from the very start and continuing until the purchase is complete. You are the new owner, ready to begin operation, with your dedicated accountant and our team ready to assist.

Due diligence and valuation

Before making a final purchase decision when buying shares, it's advisable to conduct a due diligence process to avoid any unwanted surprises. Even with reputable companies, unexpected tax or legal liabilities might affect your purchasing decision—or provide a strong basis to push for a lower purchase price.

The depth and extent of the due diligence required will be dependent on the business and whether you are choosing to purchase company assets, shares, or a combination of both. Generally, the due diligence process for an asset sale will be relatively simple, as buying assets means you will not be taking on the disclosed and undisclosed liabilities of the purchased corporation.

With a share purchase, a more comprehensive due diligence process is required. From a tax perspective, this process should begin with a general examination of past tax and information returns for all non-statute barred years. Depending on the company, you should also look at areas of higher exposure, such as business activities outside Canada and cross-border transfer pricing.

By conducting a thorough tax due diligence process, you should be able to identify potential undisclosed tax liabilities prior to purchase and evaluate the quality of tax attributes being acquired effectively.

Along with undertaking a tax due diligence process, it's also important to get an objective view of the value of the business through a formal valuation process. 

Where there is difficulty in agreeing on the value of the assets (such as goodwill) to be purchased, or the value of the shares of a company, a buyer can request the purchase price be varied based on future events. This may be in the form of an earn-out—when total proceeds are dependent on future earnings. Another approach, if it is a share purchase, would be to ask for an indemnity against undisclosed tax liabilities.

These types of purchase price adjustments add complexity to a purchase transaction and are an area where your Dedicated Accountant and our team can be of assistance.

Purchase and Sale Agreement

The Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) is a complex document that often requires significant negotiation. There are, however, a few areas and potential tax issues that a buyer should keep in mind. Purchase price allocation is a very important consideration for both the purchaser and the vendor when buying business assets. As a buyer, you should look within reason to allocate higher values to assets that can be deducted relatively quickly for tax purposes, such as inventory and depreciable property. At the same time, the seller will be motivated to minimize income on the sale of inventory and recapture of capital cost allowance previously deducted on depreciable property.

The Canadian courts have generally indicated that the agreed-upon purchase price allocation between arm's-length parties will govern the allocation of the purchase price for tax purposes. Evidence of real bargaining between arms-length parties is also proof that the allocation is reasonable and should be accepted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If, instead, the sale is between non-arm's-length parties or between arm's-length parties where one of the parties is indifferent to the allocation within the PSA (for example, a non-tax-paying entity such as a municipality or charity), you will need to take extra care to establish a reasonable allocation that will stand up to scrutiny. Note that the CRA has the power to reallocate proceeds if they are of the view that the initial purchase price allocation is not reasonable.

For the purchase of shares, the common practice is for the PSA to include tax-specific representations, warranties, and indemnities. These are designed to ensure that all tax liabilities that exist or may arise pertaining to the period before the sale closes will remain solely with the seller. It's also in your best interest to specify which party (buyer or seller) will be responsible for filing all pre-closing tax and information returns. If the vendor takes on this task, make sure to request that they make these items available for your review in a timely manner. This will allow you to ensure that appropriate returns are filed and are consistent with your plans.

Share purchase cost and tax planning

If you are purchasing shares, you should assess the most effective method to structure the acquisition of those shares, as different methods can have different tax results.

One area to consider is structuring how the purchase is financed to maximize the use of tax deductions on interest paid. For many corporate purchases, a common method is to borrow money to buy the target corporation. In this situation, the interest will be deductible. However, in some situations, you may want the acquisition debt and the assets of the target corporation to be in the same corporation so that interest can be deducted directly from the business income of the acquired company. To achieve this, the common practice is to set up a new corporation to purchase the target corporation with borrowed funds. Then, the new company and the target corporation can be merged on a tax-deferred basis. As part of this merger, it may also be possible to increase the tax cost of non-depreciable property of the target company from the tax cost of the assets at the time of acquisition to their fair market value at the time of the acquisition.

If you are buying shares as an individual and from an arm's-length party, you can transfer these shares to a new corporation and take back debt as consideration. As mentioned above, if the new corporation is then combined with the target corporation, it may be possible to increase the tax cost of the target company's non-depreciable assets in a similar manner. Essentially, this allows you to convert tax costs to debt and withdraw future earnings as tax-free debt repayments. You should note that this planning will likely not work where you buy shares from a non-arm's-length party. Further planning may be required for these purchases.

Non-resident entities buying Canadian businesses will have additional factors to consider when structuring the purchase, such as tax rules in their country of residence, as well as the Canadian tax rules in place to tax non-residents on repatriation of profits and certain capital gains.

What to Do Next?

Arrange a Consultation with your Dedicated Accountant so that you can both put a game plan together to ensure the lowest purchase price with the most favourable options.

Continue by:

Book a Consultation

Perhaps you have a some questions about your finances, taxes or business.

We offer Online, Telephone and limited On-Site (Mobile Office) appointments.

Continue by:

Book Video or Phone Appointment by Phone

You can book your Telephone Appointment with our accountant by calling (Clicking the button will automatically dial our office):

You can click on any of the above numbers to dial automatically

After you book your Telephone appointment with us, if you have questions or content that will assist our meeting, you can Click here for options on sending this information to our office.

You can click on any of the above numbers to dial automatically

After you book your Telephone appointment with us, if you have questions or content that will assist our meeting, you can Click here for options on sending this information to our office.

Book Onsite (Mobile Office) Appointment by Phone

We offer very limited amount of on-site (Mobile Office) appointments.

Prior to booking this option, please consider either a Zoom, Google Meet or Phone Appointment as all of these are available as soon as today or tomorrow. By selecting these options you leave on-site appointments for those who are not able to book those due to either technical, age or medical conditions.

Continue by Calling:

You can click on any of the above numbers to dial automatically

After you book your Telephone appointment with us, if you have questions or content that will assist our meeting, you can Click here for options on sending this information to our office.

Meeting/Consultation - Other Video Platforms

We offer On-Line Video Platforms for your Meeting or Consultation.

Continue by Selecting: