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A Guide to Rollovers as Business Startups

Since the economic downturn, more than 10,000 new businesses were started with rollovers as business startups (ROBS). They have been able to use their retirement funds without triggering early distribution penalties, to establish their new business venture. How is this possible? Are there any cautions to look out for? The following outline the basic process of ROBS, and warns about some of the pitfalls associated with using the process to establish a new business.

This complicated process is under extreme scrutiny from the IRS. The following are the five basic steps to ROBS transactions:

  • The first step is for the entrepreneur to establish a new corporation, usually a C corporation.
  • Once the new corporations is established, the corporation adopts a prototype 401(k) that permits the plan participants to direct their investments into a selection of investments options, including employer stock. This plan usually allow the employee to roll over from an existing account or execute a direct transfer from an existing retirement account in to the plan and use it to buy the employer’s capital stock. There are no employees at this time, and the corporation does not have any assets, business operations, or even capital received to create shareholder equity.
  • When the entrepreneur becomes the corporation’s only employee, they elect to participate in the newly formed 401(k). They then direct the rollover or transfer of funds from the original retirement account to the new 401(K) account.
  • Once the funds have been transfer or rolled over, the entrepreneur direct to purchase newly issued corporate stock. This stock usually represents the amount of assets the entrepreneur wishes to invest in the new business.
  • The final step is to direct the corporation uses the funds from the sale of the stock to purchase a franchise, existing business, or begin a new business venture.

There are several pitfalls to watch out for when attempting this transaction. The IRS take each ROBS on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the arrangements are not being abused.

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