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Current Issues

What is "reasonable compensation," anyway?

The issue of reasonable owners' compensation often comes up in federal tax inquiries. But it may also be an issue in shareholder disputes and divorce cases.

For instance, minority shareholders or spouses of controlling shareholders may claim that an owner is taking an excessive salary, thereby impairing the value of the business. Alternatively, a nonowner-spouse may claim that a salary is too low, because the owner-spouse is trying to minimize the base on which alimony and child support payments will be calculated.

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