What is Goodwill?

According to the dictionary goodwill is:

1. a feeling of benevolence, approval, and kindly interest

2. (modifier) resulting from, showing, or designed to show goodwill: the government sent a goodwill mission toMoscow.

3. willingness or acquiescence

4. (Accounting & Book-keeping) accounting an intangible asset taken into account in assessing the value of anenterprise and reflecting its commercial reputation, customer connections, etc

Goodwill, as discussed in this post, is the intangible asset, that amount that a buyer is willing to pay for your business over and above the valuation of physical assets (plant, equipment, stock, property and net working capital).

If you have a business, goodwill is a payment a buyer is prepared to pay for your customer list and the reputation that your business may have built over the years.

Valuing goodwill is a tricky process as it necessarily involves consideration of intangible items. Ultimately, the agreed valuation will be the amount someone is prepared to pay, and the amount you are prepared to accept.

How is the sale of goodwill treated for tax purposes?

A company or person selling goodwill will create a taxable gain. If possible, sole-traders, partners or shareholders would seek to have this gain taxed under the capital gains tax legislation and claim reliefs that would restrict any tax payable to 10{11092aa1eab99d85b02efc0ee3c04dc4f5b81bebfc2bd8f608402c1b0eb15b7e} of the chargeable gain.

HMRC, on the other hand, would prefer that any gain is taxed as income, and subject to the much higher income tax rates.

These opposing points of view can make for lengthy and complex arguments that often play out in the courts.

Goodwill is a payment for the hard work that you have committed to your business and you will want to plan for any sale with an eye to any tax payable, which is why planning a sale is a must-do. Very often the way that you structure a sale, and its timing, will determine the tax outcome.

As with most tax planning this process should be completed before contracts for sale are signed.

Readers contemplating a sale should invest in professional advice. In this way you will maximise the amount you receive for goodwill and minimise any tax liabilities. Please call if you would like to discuss your options, we can help.

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