B.J. Adelson

B.J. Adelson

I'm B.J. Adelson. I'm an attorney, and I want to give you an example of what can go wrong.

Many years ago, I had a client who was in his sixties. He had started a business, and he wanted to turn it over to his son, but he didn't want to sell it to his son because his son would have difficulty in paying for it. He didn't want to give it to his son because he wanted to get some money for it so he could retire eventually.

What he wanted to do was sell a little bit to his son, and he wanted to sell the rest of his stock to his corporation. In that way, he felt that he would be able to sell all of the stock at capital gain rates, which were about 25% at that time, rather than taking the money out of the corporation as a dividend which, in those days, was taxed at about 70%, an enormous difference.

He came to me with his ideas, and I told him that the way he had proposed to do it would not work because of some special rules the Internal Revenue Service had, which would result in the treatment of his money from the corporation being taxed at ordinary income rates. He listened, but I didn't think he was really listening. So I wrote him a letter of three or four pages outlining what he should not do and what he should do to accomplish his desired result.

I didn't hear anything for about three years until one day I had an accountant call me and said he had received word from the Internal Revenue Service. They were auditing this man's tax return, and the man said that I had told him that what he did was OK and that the IRS was all wrong. So, I said, well, I'll send you a copy of the letter I sent to this man, and two days later, he called me and he said, "Oh my, everything you said would go wrong did go wrong! The IRS told him it was ordinary income, just as you said they would do, because he had not followed your advice." He had gone his own separate way, thinking he knew better.

The moral of this story, of course, is if you get advice from a professional, listen to him or her. He or she probably knows better than you do.