Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Franchisors Using 409A Plans to Encourage Franchisee Store Remodeling

"A key provision of 409A allows a manufacturer (franchisor) to sponsor a deferred compensation plan for a service provider or independent contractor (franchisee). The resulting plan enables the franchisee to save up to 100 percent of their franchisee income pre-tax and invest it tax-deferred for the needed remodel. When the date arrives for the remodel, the franchisee takes the distribution and pays ordinary income taxes on the money received. If used for remodeling, which is a business expense, the franchisee may be able to expense it again.

To encourage system-wide participation, the franchisor could even make a matching contribution, or could predicate the match to the franchisee resigning their contract. A vesting provision could be added stating the match be used only for a refresh, remodel, or rebuild.

By sponsoring a tax-favored savings plan and encouraging participation with a match, the franchisor is assured that needed updating will take place on schedule. An updated store assures a consistent, positive customer experience across the system. The franchisor has also contributed to the goodwill of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. And finally, the franchisee is happy because he or she now has a vehicle to save pre-tax and tax-deferred for a large future expenditure."


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