New Bill Would Boost ESOP Tax Benefits

Two federal lawmakers have introduced a bill they say would boost employee-owned businesses through tax law changes.

A news release from U.S. Representatives Earl Pomeroy (D-North Dakota) and Charles Boustany (R-Louisiana) said The Employee Stock Ownership Plan Promotion and Improvement Act, H.R. 5207 was designed to remove obstacles to employee ownership of companies.

“Businesses that follow the path of employee ownership are often more successful and provide better services, and ownership can make them more exciting places to work,” Pomeroy said in the release. “The federal tax system needs to encourage employee ownership, not stymie it. Our bill will finally set this system on a path of growth.”

A bill summary from The ESOP Association said the measure:

  • improves the 1042 ESOP tax deferred rollover provisions by permitting sellers to the ESOP of an S corporation to utilize the ESOP tax benefit referred to as the tax deferred rollover, or the so-called 1042 treatment;
  • clarifies and adds technical amendments to the section 1042 provision related to how proceeds from a sale to an ESOP may be reinvested, and who are not permitted to participate in a 1042 ESOP;
  • clarifies that dividends paid by C corporations on ESOP stock are not a preference item in calculating the corporate alternative minimum tax;
  • repeals the 10%-penalty tax on S corporation distributions from current earnings, also referred to as dividends that are passed through to ESOP participants in cash;
  • clarifies that a non-ESOP small businesses currently eligible for any Small Business Administration program is still eligible for the SBA program if becoming a majority owned ESOP company with the same characteristics it had before becoming a majority owned ESOP company.

“The bill is an important step to broaden employee ownership in the U.S.,” The ESOP Association said in its announcement.