As you are probably aware, one of the requirements for maintaining a corporation’s existence (and the liability protection that it affords) is that the shareholders and Board of Directors must meet at least annually. Although most people view this requirement as a necessary evil, it doesn’t have to be a waste of time. For example, in addition to being a first step in making sure the corporation is respected as a separate legal entity, an annual meeting can be used as an important tool to support your company’s tax positions.
Besides the election of officers and directors, other actions that should be considered at the annual meeting include the directors approving the accrual of any bonuses and retirement plan contributions, and ratifying key actions taken by corporate officers during the year. The directors should also specifically approve any loans to shareholders to lessen the opportunity for the IRS to reclassify the loans as taxable dividends. Such loans should also be bona fide loans that are supported by loan agreements that have reasonable terms for repayment and are signed and dated. In addition, if the corporation is accumulating a significant amount of earnings, the minutes of the meeting should generally spell out the reasons for the accumulation to help prevent an IRS attempt to assess the accumulated earnings tax. The minutes may also document that the personal use of the company-owned automobiles are intended to be part of the shareholder’s compensation.
These are just a few examples of why well-documented annual meetings can be an important part of a corporation’s tax records. We would be happy to be involved in your company’s annual meeting and to assist in making sure tax-effective minutes of the meeting are prepared. When scheduled shortly before the corporation’s year-end, many companies consider the annual meeting as an opportune time for their accountant and attorney to plan together for the wrap up of the year. Thus, please feel free to call us, as the time for your annual meeting draws near.