Thoughts and Insights by Michael Gregory


Two groups facing each other while sitting with the word negotiation in the background
December 5th, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution – Part 5 Negotiating with the IRS

The last two weeks I offered ideas on the Top Strategies for Negotiation Part One and Part Two. This article is one of a series of five articles over the past five months. The focus of this article is entirely with the IRS on a technical issue. Having worked for the IRS for 28 years at all levels from specialist to executive, having brought mediation and mediation training to the IRS Large Business and International Division and trained some 2,500 employees in the techniques, having been involved with over 2,500 mediations from boards of directors with fortune 100 companies on billion dollar issues, to the IRS on valuation issues or issues on research credit from thousands of dollars to a billion dollars, I wanted to offer you some insights on how to negotiate with the IRS on examination on these types of issues. Similar techniques can be used at Appeals and with IRS Counsel, but the emphasis there is on hazards of litigation. There is a different emphasis on examination that focuses on factual development. This commentary will introduce you to factual issues and negotiations on examination where issues are discussed and may be resolved factually.

Cover for the book Valuing Interests in S-Corps
November 7th, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution – Part 4 S-Corp issues

This is the fourth in a series of six monthly technical blogs on issues related to business valuation. Many business valuers believe that all entities whether a C-corp that is taxed or an S-corp that pays no federal income taxes should both be valued as if they pay tax (Grabowski, Mercer, Van Vleet)[i]. These business valuers believe there is no difference in the determination of fair market value. Others believe there is an S-corp adjustment to be made, but it should not be fully taxed (Fannon, Treharne)[ii]. These approaches suggest a premium for an S-corp. In general, the IRS believes that an S-corp should not be tax affected since it does not pay federal income taxes. This article looks at this issue in general. For a more complete analysis of this topic see original commentary dated Valuing Interests in S Corps (2013) or an updated and more comprehensive commentary within Business Valuations and the IRS (2018).   [i] (423-433 and 436-441)   [ii] (419-423 and 433-435)  

Book cover for DLOMs and the IRS: the underside of a pier out into the ociean
October 3rd, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution - Part 3 DLOM issues

This is the third in a series of five articles regarding the title above. When valuing a minority interest in a privately held company two common adjustments are made after determining the controlling fair market value of the entity. These adjustments are the Minority Interest Discount adjustment and the Discount for Lack of Marketability (DLOM) adjustment. This article explores issues associated with the DLOM associated with a minority interest to help address conflicts or disputes with IRS valuers and agents. These can be very material leading to significant conflicts. The results can lead to discussions with their immediate supervisor and in the instances of an unagreed case to Appeals at the IRS. The purpose of this article is to highlight and introduce ways to minimize these conflicts

People working together on a task
September 12th, 2022

How do you address the three most common conflicts in business negotiations?

In business negotiations there are three common conflicts that you want to make sure you are aware of and address appropriately according to the Harvard Program on Negotiation. These three most common conflict areas are introduced and supplemented with additional information to help you with your own business negotiations going forward. The three areas are to avoid stereotyping the other party, take on the most difficult issues first, and check your own assumptions and determine your role. When you know the characteristics of each you will be able to negotiate from a much better position. Your relationship with the other party is critical. By learning everything you can about the other party up front and taking time to develop a relationship this can go a long way to improve the negotiation process.

three hands pointing fingers at three other hands
September 6th, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution – Part 2 - Top issues of disagreement

This is part 2 of a 6 part series. Conflicts and disputes in the area of business valuation with the IRS may be expected given the subjective nature of this topic. Part 1 set the stage introducing the concepts of mediation, business valuer bias, steps to overcome bias, federal court rules, the likelihood of litigation, how most appraisers never know their appraisal is being audited by the IRS, and potential penalties on appraisers. This Part 2 commentary focuses on the most commonly adjusted areas by IRS valuers and what valuers can do to reduce the probability of an audit technically.

five male and female professional dress in silhouette
August 1st, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution – Part 1 Setting the stage

This is the first in a six part series looking at this topic. Today the focus is on expert witnesses in federal court sessions having various rules to follow regarding their expertise and reports. Given these rules how can an expert demonstrate leadership, help with dispute resolution, or conflict resolution working with the client or client’s representative to resolve the case with the other party and the other expert? Business valuers are taught to be advocates for their position and not for their client. They are to be independent. Only a small number of cases actually make it to court. The question is how does an expert witness such as a business valuer serve their client best with an out of court settlement? This last question will be addressed in a future monthly blogs.

A C-clamp squeezing a wallet with dollar bills in it
June 27th, 2022

Is the IRS Job Aid on Reasonable Compensation still relevant?

The IRS valuers identified reasonable compensation as one of the top issues for audit. Differences of opinion by valuers in the private sector and IRS valuers could lead to conflict and disputes on examination, leading to Appeals, and potentially to litigation. This commentary defines reasonable compensation, introduces the IRS Job Aid and Appendix, provides links to some recent IRS papers related to reasonable compensation, introduces how various levels at the IRS look at the issue, provides links to relevant court cases and key factors for consideration from those court cases, and provides a source for contemporary commentary on this topic.

Two opposite pictorial views of positive and negative appear to be banging into each other while words like bias, antagonism and others are in the background
May 23rd, 2022

Business valuation experts are biased and so are you – so what do you do?

Four experts in behavioral finance conducted extensive research and wrote an article entitled, “Are Business Valuators Biased? A Psychological Perspective on the Causes of Valuation Disputes.”  This article explores the insights gained from their research. In short, yes, business valuers are biased on at least three levels. When given a number from a client as to what the client thinks, that is an “anchor” bias or when knowing the client is a buyer or seller that is called engagement bias to have a lower or higher number. Cognitive bias impacts the number supplied by the business valuer. When considering whether the business valuer is biased or not 58.7% believed the other side was biased and 25.1% believed that they were biased. Your bias can hurt or harm you during a negotiation on your conclusion of value too. Using your bias can be an advantage in a negotiation sometimes too.

Young lady in front of laptop biting her pencil
February 7th, 2022

Stress, health, aging, and conflict what do they have to do with each other and business valuation?

In many professions tight deadlines, being an expert witness, litigation, and other stressors impact your every day. The questions are what does this do to with your health? How does this impact your aging? What about conflicts at work? After some research in these areas here are some great ideas to help you with these issues and a personal insight related to business valuers.

Four individuals online on one screen being able to see each other live
January 24th, 2022

This is why you want to try online or virtual mediation

Very simply mediation is a process whereby a third party assists the parties to develop a resolution that both parties can agree upon. The mediator is a trained neutral in contention. The mediator helps the parties expand their horizons from looking at the problem with a narrow focus and instead helps the parties look at the issues more broadly. This helps the parties develop a solution that both parties either like or can live with going forward. Advantages have been found with virtual mediation over face-to-face mediations. This article explores the advantages of using online or virtual mediation.


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