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How Many Shares Should You Authorize For Your Delaware Corporation?

When forming a corporation in Delaware you will need to indicate on the certificate of incorporation the total amount of stock the corporation is authorized to issue.  There are two schools of thought on how best to make this decision: 1.  Only Authorize 5,000 Shares of Stock. By March 1st of each year you will have to file… Read More

When forming a corporation in Delaware you will need to indicate on the certificate of incorporation the total amount of stock the corporation is authorized to issue.  There are two schools of thought on how best to make this decision:

1.  Only Authorize 5,000 Shares of Stock.

By March 1st of each year you will have to file an annual report and pay a franchise tax in Delaware.  The tax is calculated based on the authorized shares for the company by using either the Authorized Shares Method or the Assumed Par Value Capital Method.

The Authorized Shares Method is based on the number of authorized shares and is calculated as follows:

     (i) If the company is authorized to issue 5,000 shares or less the annual franchise tax is $175;

     (ii) If the company is authorized to issue 5,001 to 10,000 shares the annual franchise tax is $250; and

     (iii) for each additional 10,000 authorized shares the annual franchise tax is increased by an additional $85.  The maximum annual tax under the Authorized Shares Method is $200,000.

You may, therefore, decide to authorize the company to only issue 5,000 shares so you pay the minimum amount of Delaware franchise tax each year ($175).

2.  Authorize Millions of Shares.

The second school of thought is to authorize millions of shares, typically 10,000,000 shares.

The rationale is individuals who receive 1,000,000 shares feel like they are receiving something of greater value and may be more motivated than individuals who receive 500 shares, even if the shares represent the same percentage of ownership in the company.

In addition, having more shares provides more flexibility in allocating shares on vesting schedules.

The drawback is that in Delaware having more than 5,000 authorized shares results in a higher annual franchise tax.

If you authorize millions of shares, you will most likely calculate the Delaware annual franchise tax using the Assumed Par Value Capital Method.  The calculations under this method can be complicated, but the Delaware Secretary of State’s Office provides a good explanation and  examples of how to determine the tax here.

Please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com to discuss how many shares you should authorize for your Delaware corporation.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

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What Is An 83(b) Election?

This article provides an overview of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code and how it affects shareholders who purchase stock that is subject to vesting.  That is, stock that individuals gain rights to overtime.  It also discusses who may want to make an 83(b) election and how they can do so. Who should be… Read More

This article provides an overview of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code and how it affects shareholders who purchase stock that is subject to vesting.  That is, stock that individuals gain rights to overtime.  It also discusses who may want to make an 83(b) election and how they can do so.

Who should be concerned about Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code?

Section 83 should be of concern to founders and employees who receive stock that is subject to vesting.  Two examples are when a founder or an employee sign a restricted stock purchase agreement or if they agree to a stock option plan that allows them to exercise their options prior to vesting, but subject to a restrictive stock agreement.  However, these are just two examples – you should consult your tax and legal counsel to determine whether your particular circumstances raise a potential Section 83 issue before signing a stock purchase agreement.

What is Section 83 and what happens if you do not file an 83(b) election?

Under Section 83, if you purchase stock that is subject to vesting and do not file an 83(b) election, you will pay income tax on the difference between the price paid for the stock and the stock’s fair market value when it vests, even if you do not sell the stock at that time.  In addition, the holding period for determining whether the income from the sale of the shares qualify for long term capital gains treatment does not begin until the shares have vested.

How is the income from stock taxed if you make an 83(b) election?

In contrast, if you make an 83(b) election, the income from the stock is recognized at the time of the stock “transfer” – its purchase date – rather than when the stock vests. The long term capital gains holding period also begins on the purchase date of the stock.

Why is it important when the income from your stock is recognized?

Often the purchase price and the fair market value of stock on its purchase date are the same.  Thus, if you make an 83(b) election, you may not have any income to recognize from the stock purchase and may only have to pay capital gains tax when the stock is sold.

However, if you do not make an 83(b) election, you may have substantial income tax liability when the stock vests if the stock increases in value, even if you do not sell it.

You, therefore, may want to file an 83(b) election, particularly if you believe the stock is likely to increase in value.  By doing so, the income from the stock will be recognized before it increases in value.  As an added bonus, by filing the 83(b) you will also start the one year holding period for long term capital gains treatment from the date you purchase the shares.

What is an example of how stock subject to vesting is treated under Section 83?

You and a friend start a company and purchase stock at the par value of $.0001 per share that is subject to a one year cliff and a four year vesting period.  Your friend promptly files an 83(b) election, but you forget to do so.  At the end of the one year cliff the stock is worth $1.00 per share.  Because you did not timely file an 83(b) election, you would recognize $0.99 per share as income, even if you do not sell the stock.  As the remaining stock vests, you would also recognize income equal to the difference between the fair market value of the stock and the $.0001 per share price at which you purchased it.

In contrast, because your friend promptly made an 83(b) election, they would not recognize any income as the stock vests because the 83(b) election accelerated the recognition of the income from the stock transfer to the purchase date.

What are the drawbacks to making an 83(b) election?

If you do not pay fair market value for the stock and make an 83(b) election, you could possibly pay income tax on stock that does not provide you with any benefit.

For example, you join a company in June of 2011 that was started in May of 2010.  You purchase 1,000 shares of restricted stock at the par value of $.0001 per share.

However, the company has been running for over a year and the fair market value of the shares is no longer par value, but is instead $1.00 per share.

If you file an 83(b) election, you would pay income tax on the difference between the fair market value of the stock and what you paid for your shares.  In this example, you would pay income tax on $990.90.

If the company dissolves and the stock is worthless, you would not receive any benefit from the income tax you paid.  In addition, if you later forfeit the stock, perhaps by leaving the company, you will not be allowed a deduction for the income tax you paid on the stock at the time you made the 83(b) election.

However, if the purchase price and the fair market value of stock are the same and you make an 83(b) election, you would not have any income to recognize from the stock purchase and may only have to pay capital gains tax when the stock is sold.

How much time do you have to make an 83(b) election?

You must file an 83(b) election no later than 30 days after the stock has been transferred.   The stock has been transferred on the purchase date of the stock, which is when you assume ownership of the stock.  The postmark date is the date of the filing.

How do you make an 83(b) filing?

The 83(b) election must include:

  1. Your name, address, and tax identification number.
  2. A description of the property for which you are making the election.  For example, “25 shares of common stock in X company.”
  3. The date on which the property was transferred and the tax year for which you are making the election.
  4. The nature of any restrictions on the stock.  For example, “Stock must be forfeited if employment terminates before June 1, 2015.”
  5. The fair market value at the time of the transfer for which you are making the election.
  6. Any amount you paid for the stock.
  7. A statement that you have provided the required copies of the election, such as: “I have provided copies of this election as required in the regulation.”

The IRS does not provide a form 83(b) election, but you can find a sample 83(b) election form here.

Where do I file the 83(b) election?

The 83(b) election is filed with the IRS office that you file your tax returns.

For California residents, the address is:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888-0002

It is strongly recommended that if you decide to make an 83(b) election, you send it via certified mail with return receipt and that you keep that receipt in case you ever need to document that you submitted the form.

Do you have any 83(b) tips or advice?  If so, please provide them in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide information for your general education.  It is not intended to be used and should not be used for the purpose of avoiding federal income tax penalties.  Although the article discusses general legal and tax issues, it does not constitute legal advice.  You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information in this article.  Instead you should seek the advice of tax or legal counsel who can discuss the facts and circumstances of your particular business or personal needs.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this article.

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The Top Six Reasons Your Company Should Have Strategic Bylaws

California does not require a company to have written bylaws, but below you will find six reasons why every business owner should invest in a strategically planned out set of bylaws for their company: 1.  The Bylaws are the Company’s Legal Backbone A company’s bylaws provide the legal framework for how it operates, including the number… Read More

California does not require a company to have written bylaws, but below you will find six reasons why every business owner should invest in a strategically planned out set of bylaws for their company:

1.  The Bylaws are the Company’s Legal Backbone

A company’s bylaws provide the legal framework for how it operates, including the number of people who may serve on the board of directors, how to call a board of directors meeting, and the officer positions for the company.

2.  What if Your Company Does Not Have Bylaws?

If your company does not have bylaws in place, the laws of California will control how the company is run.  It is much better for the owners to determine how it would like to have the company operate than to rely on the state’s statutes.

It is similar to an individual not having a will or trust.  If they die, the state’s statutes determine how the individual’s assets are distributed.  Instead, the individual should thoughtfully think through how they would like their assets distributed and to set up the legal mechanism to enforce their plan.

Similarly, it is much better for business owners to strategically think about how they would like their company to operate. Relying on state statutes might not always be the best fit for the company.

3.  Bylaws Provide Owners With Piece of Mind

Every company eventually runs into challenges.  It is better to consider some of the potential turning points in your company and provide for them in your bylaws. This preemptive approach allows you to determine how you would like the outcomes of these situations to be determined, rather than waiting to make tough decisions when interested parties and passions may create the perfect storm for litigation.

For example, what will happen if there is a legal dispute between the owners?  Do you want the company to be tied up in the expense and distraction of litigation or would you prefer arbitration?  What happens if one of the owners dies?  What if one of the owners wants out of the company?

The bylaws present an opportunity to calmly and objectively reflect on these issues before they occur.  It is wiser to answer these types of questions ahead of time and determine what might be the best solutions for your company than to rely on the default rules in the state’s statutes or to try to resolve them when clear heads are less likely to prevail.

 4.  Bylaws Help Protect Your Company’s Limited Liability Protection

One of the primary reasons to form a corporate entity is to possibly have personal limited liability from the potential business debts and judgments against your company.

If a company does not have bylaws and is sued, a plaintiff could try to “pierce the corporate veil” by claiming the company should not be provided with the shield of limited liability protection because its owners did not follow corporate formalities.

In determining whether to pierce the corporate veil, the court would evaluate a number of factors to determine whether your company is legitimate, including whether you have the proper corporate documents and records.  By not having bylaws, a business owner is risking not being provided limited liability protection if sued.

5.  Bylaws Help Avert Misunderstandings Among Owners

Communication and clear expectations are key to any successful relationship including the relationship between business owners.  Bylaws clearly lay out how the company will be run which can be crucial in preventing misunderstandings over how the owners expect the company to be managed.

6.  You May Need Bylaws To Get a Bank Account, Loans, and Insurance.

Finally, if you would like to open a business account or apply for loans most banks will require you to provide a copy of your bylaws.  In addition, insurance companies may require you to provide a copy of your company’s bylaws before providing certain types of polices.

As a business owner, it is often tempting to cut corners to lower costs. A strategically thought out set of bylaws should not be one of these corners.   Instead, bylaws should be recognized for what they are – one of the wisest investments a business owner can make to ensure the long-term effectiveness of their company.

If you have any questions regarding bylaws or any other business legal issue, please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

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How Can You Incorporate In Delaware Without Having an Office In The State?

Business owners are often interested in incorporating in Delaware, but are unsure how they can do so without having a physical office in the state. You do not need a physical location to incorporate in Delaware, but you do need to have a registered agent for service of process. A registered agent for service of… Read More

Business owners are often interested in incorporating in Delaware, but are unsure how they can do so without having a physical office in the state.

You do not need a physical location to incorporate in Delaware, but you do need to have a registered agent for service of process. A registered agent for service of process is where your company would be served if it were to be sued.

LegalInc. Corporate Services Inc. ($99/year),  BizFilings ($129/year), LegalZoom ($159/year) and a number of other companies provide a registered agent for service of process in Delaware.

If you need a registered agent for service of process in California, our firm charges $99/year.

It is important to remember that even if you incorporate in Delaware, you will also need to register your business in each state you are doing business.  Most states have a very low registration threshold because they not only want to know which businesses are operating in their state, but they also want to maximize revenue from franchise taxes.

You can read about the pros and cons of incorporating in Delaware here. If you have any questions regarding incorporating in Delaware or any other business legal issues, please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

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Why Your Website Most Likely Needs a Privacy Policy and What Must Be In It

The California Online Privacy Protection Act requires a website to “conspicuously post” a privacy policy if it “collects and maintains personally identifiable information from a consumer residing in California.” “Personally identifiable information” is very broadly defined to include a first and last name, a physical address, an e-mail address, a telephone number, or any other… Read More

The California Online Privacy Protection Act requires a website to “conspicuously post” a privacy policy if it “collects and maintains personally identifiable information from a consumer residing in California.”

“Personally identifiable information” is very broadly defined to include a first and last name, a physical address, an e-mail address, a telephone number, or any other information that permits the contact of an individual.  So, even if you are not selling a product or service, your website will need a privacy policy if visitors can submit their e-mail addresses to receive news and updates from you.

What Must Be In Your Privacy Policy?

If a privacy policy is required, it must contain seven items:

  1. Information Collected – The categories of personal information the website collects.
  2. The categories of third-parties with whom the company shares the information.
  3. How the consumer can review and request changes to their information collected by the company.
  4. How your site responds to “do not track” indicators from web browsers.
  5. Whether there are third party tracking cookies (or other tracking mechanisms), such as advertising cookies. 
  6. How the company notifies consumers of material changes to its privacy policy.
  7. The effective date of the privacy policy.

Where Should Your Privacy Policy Be Posted?

If you are required to have a privacy policy, it must be “conspicuously posted.”  The policy is conspicuously posted if it:

  1. Appears on the homepage of your website – usually not an aesthetically pleasant option.
  2. The website can have an icon on the home page that contains the word “privacy” – not a bad option.
  3. The most popular option is to have a link at the bottom of the homepage that contains the words “Privacy Policy.”

What Can Happen If You Don’t Have A Privacy Policy?

Under the California Unfair Competition Law, website operators who do not comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act could be sued by the California Attorney General, District Attorneys, County Counsel, or City Attorneys for “unfair competition.”

There Is Not A One Size Fits All Privacy Policy

Privacy policies vary depending on how the website collects and uses consumer information.  The key is to not only make sure the privacy policy complies with the law, but to also have the policy be easy to understand so visitors do not get frustrated with legalese when trying to determine how their personal information is being collected and used by your website.

If you have any questions regarding privacy policies or any other business legal issue, please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

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Top Questions to Ask A Business Attorney Before You Hire One

As a business owner, you face many challenges and expenses. One of the most important decisions is how to meet the legal requirements of your business while balancing the need to preserve time and capital.  Below is a list of tips you may want to consider when selecting a qualified, trusted business attorney. Where do… Read More

As a business owner, you face many challenges and expenses. One of the most important decisions is how to meet the legal requirements of your business while balancing the need to preserve time and capital.  Below is a list of tips you may want to consider when selecting a qualified, trusted business attorney.

  1. Where do I start to find a business attorney?

The best method for selecting a great business attorney is to consult other business owners and your trusted advisors.  Does a business owner you trust have an attorney they would recommend?  Does your CPA, financial planner, or banker have an attorney they know and trust?  An attorney who has the money or aptitude to have their website on page one of a Google search is not necessarily the attorney who is best suited to help your business.

2.  Is the business attorney well qualified to handle your specific legal needs?

Once you have a list of attorneys your biggest concern should be whether they are qualified to handle your legal needs.  An attorney who is fresh out of law school may be inexpensive, but it may be worthwhile to pay more for an attorney who has experience with your industry or navigating the nuances of your city and state.  For example, a family law attorney may be well qualified to handle a child custody dispute, but they may not be the best attorney to set up a new business entity.  It is important to keep in mind that attorneys are business owners as well and some are reluctant to turn away new business – even if they are not particularly well qualified to handle your legal needs.

How can you determine if an attorney is well qualified to handle your legal needs?  The first step is to review the attorney’s biography.  Do they seem like they would be a good fit for your company’s legal matters? If so, contact the attorney and interview them for the position for which they are “applying” – one of the most important roles in your company.  Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Have you had any ethics complaints filed against you?
  • Have you done this specific type of work before?
  • How many times?
  • Can you please give specific examples of work you have done in the past that is similar to the work you would be doing for me?
  • Can you please put me in contact with a client with whom you have done similar work?

You should also ask the attorney specific questions that are important to your legal needs to determine if they have the necessary background knowledge.  For example, if you are setting up a new company, you may want to ask the attorney to describe the difference between an S corporation and an LLC or how much the annual franchise tax is for a corporation in California.  These types of questions can be a good method to gauge the knowledge base of the attorney and whether they are best suited to help your business.

 3.  Are the business attorney’s rates reasonable?

Good business attorneys in the Bay Area typically charge between $275 to $595 per hour.  Partners in large law firms can charge as much as $1,200 per hour.  This can lead to large, unexpected legal bills.  What may seem like a simple legal question can result in you receiving a ten page memo and a three thousand dollar invoice.

However, some attorneys are willing to offer flat project rates, which can better allow you to budget for your legal needs.   An attorney may also be willing to put a cap on the amount they charge for a project.  For example, an attorney might say that it typically takes them three to five hours to set up a corporation.  If an attorney will not provide a flat rate for the project, they might be willing to agree to a cap that the project will not cost anymore than fives times their hourly rate.  Having a flat project rate or cap on the legal costs for a project can be key in helping you prevent surprise legal bills.

 4.  Prioritize Your Legal Needs.

It is easy to forget that an attorney is a small business owner and may encourage you to buy additional legal services that your business may not immediately need.  You should ask the attorney how they would prioritize the timing of the legal projects they recommend.  For example, can you pay to set up your company now, but wait to file for a trademark until you see if your business is actually viable?

5.  Is the Business Attorney Not Only Well Qualified, But Also Someone You Would Enjoy Interacting With?

It is important to not only find an attorney who is reasonably priced and well qualified, but someone you feel comfortable working with.  Is the attorney someone you want to develop an ongoing relationship with over the years as your business grows?  Will you enjoy interacting with them or will you dread having to contact them?

6.  The Business Attorney Should Be A Member of Your Team of Trusted Fiduciary Advisors.

The attorney should be a member of a trusted group of fiduciary advisors who provide your company with quality advice for a fair price.  This team of trusted fiduciaries will vary from business to business, but will often include a business attorney, a CPA, a financial planner, a personal banker, and other individuals who will not only provide you with sound advice, but also genuinely care about the success of your business.

7.  Meet With Several Business Attorneys and Trust Your Instincts.

You should meet with several business attorneys.  Selecting the right business attorney is extremely important and you should take the time to make the right decision.  Most business attorneys provide a free initial consultation.  Take that opportunity to meet with several attorneys.  You are no doubt very busy, but finding a good fit early on can save dozens of hours down the road.  Trust your instincts in determining which business attorney is going to best help your business grow and succeed.

If you have any questions regarding hiring a business attorney or any other business legal issue, please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Doug Bend expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

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