Friday, June 20, 2014

Is a Letter of Intent (LOI) Necessary When Buying or Selling a Dental Practice?

Here is a repost from Tim Lott, CPA, CVA and Ellen Dorner of NL Transitions, a Dental Brokerage firm.

The easy answer is no, it is not necessarily needed.   In most states it is not a legally binding agreement anyway, so why go through the effort?

There are actually some very good reasons why having a LOI is crucial to every dental practice transaction, in spite of it not always being a legally binding agreement.  In my opinion, there really is no downside to having one.  Let’s discuss what a letter of intent is and what purposes it serves.

The primary purpose of the letter of intent is just as it’s titled, to lay out what one’s intent is as it relates to the transaction at hand. It should be a one or two page letter or memo detailing some of the major points of the transaction. In the case of a sale or purchase of a dental practice, some of these major points typically identify: what’s being purchased, the parties involved, the price, the timing of the payment, the structure of the transaction, exclusions, covenant details, seller’s compensation and general terms, buyer contingencies, time frames for acceptance of offer and due diligence, deposit requirements, etc.

As mentioned above, since the majority of these letters are NOT necessarily legally binding and may be somewhat boiler-plate, they shouldn’t cost too much in the way of professional fees to put one together. While you may not need to have an attorney involved to draft and submit a letter of intent, we do suggest you have attorney look over it before submitting it to the other party. If you can hammer out the meat of the transaction BEFORE engaging your attorney you may save money and a lot of headaches having your attorneys iron out these issues.

The letter should be a way for the parties to document what they believe has been discussed as it pertains to the major points. It serves as a way to let the seller know your intent to purchase the dental practice is serious enough to make a written offer and should give them some level of confidence that you’ll be committed to the transaction.

It is customary for the seller to require a deposit with the signed letter of intent. The amounts can vary, however, it’s usually in the range of $5,000. Many times the deposit is non-refundable so if the buyer walks away from the transaction, the seller is covered for any professional fees they’ve incurred to entertain the offer. If a seller requires a substantial deposit then the seller may also have to commit to a penalty if they walk away.

The drawback of NOT having a LOI is that without consensus on the main points, the two parties can wind up going back and forth, or worse, the attorneys or other professionals go back and forth on the main points and the parties wind up spending more in professional fees than they have to. Do yourself a favor and minimize your stress level, start with a LOI BEFORE jumping right to the legal agreements. 

For more information about your situation, email Ellen Dorner or call her at (800) 772-1065. Visit our website at .

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tax Court Rules that Horse Racing Losses Can Be Deducted

Here is one of those instances where meticulous record keeping paid off.

Income Tax—Horse Racing Activity Not Passive: The Section 469 Passive Activity Loss (PAL) rules limit losses from any trade or business in which the taxpayer does not materially participate. The Tax Court has recently held that a lawyer's losses from a side thoroughbred horse breeding and racing activity (thoroughbred activity) were not PALs and consequently were currently deductible. The lawyer presented a narrative summary (prepared using telephone records, credit card invoices, and other contemporaneous materials) at trial demonstrating for the three years at issue he had participated in the activity for more than 500 hours during each year. Stefan A. Tolin , TC Memo 2014-65 (Tax Ct.). 

For a review of you particular situation, contact us, in addition to specializing in dental accounting, we are widely respected for our equestrian accounting skills. (800) 772-1065

Monday, June 2, 2014

There’s More to Selling Your Dental Practice Than the Price

Here is a post from Tim Lott, CPA, CVA and Ellen Dorner of NL Transitions, a Dental Brokerage firm.

Far too many times when dentists are preparing to sell their dental practice, they are focused mainly on the price and may wind up overlooking many other issues surrounding the practice sale that are just as important, some even more important than the price. That is not to say the price is NOT important, because it is; however, there are so many other aspects of the transaction.  Sometimes you need to know when to give on one issue so you can profit or benefit from another issue.

The following are some examples of different components of the dental practice sale where the seller can benefit.

How are you handling the assets that you are including in the sale? How is the price going to be allocated among those assets?

o As a seller, do you know how the allocation is going to impact the income tax picture in the year of the sale?  It is important to have an income tax projection done to determine how one allocation may differ from another in terms of the income taxes you will pay.  If there’s an allocation that works better for you, compromising on the price may be necessary for you to benefit from that allocation.

If you plan to stay and work for the buyer as an associate, how will you be compensated?

o Would you prefer to be treated as an employee or an independent contractor? What professional expenses do you want the new owner to cover?  These are all negotiable points and if you’re planning on staying on for at least a year, the compensation you receive might actually be more valuable to you then standing firm on a higher price.

Will you be selling the accounts receivables to the buyer in addition to other dental practice assets?

o If so, how will they be valued?  If you’ve compromised on the price of the other assets, you might be in a better position to use that as your negotiating chip for a more favorable price on the accounts receivables.

Do you currently own the real estate where your dental practice is located and if so, will you be selling it or renting to the new owner?

o Again, if you’ve compromised in other areas of the transaction, you’ll want to remind the buyer of the compromises you’ve made in those areas so the price of the real estate or monthly rent works more in your favor. The annual increases and/or expenses can be passed through to the buyer within the lease agreement.

So as you can see, there so many other areas that get negotiated during a practice sale.  If you are solely focused on the price of the practice, you may wind up losing a good buyer when, in actuality, the difference in the price may be made up in other areas of the transaction.  It is important to look at the ENTIRE picture and plan accordingly.

Have a range in mind for the price you’ll accept for the practice.  Also have a range that you’ll accept as compensation, a range for the value of the receivables and if you own the real estate, a range for the sales price or annual rent.  When you approach the transaction with a global view instead of just concentrating on the price, you’ll have a much better chance of success in not only selling the practice, but getting what you want from the ENTIRE package.

For more information about your situation, email Ellen Dorner or call her at (800) 772-1065. Visit our website at .