December 2011 Archives

Lenders and underwriters in my training workshops on Cashflow Analysis of Tax Returns often stumble a bit on that word 'guaranteed'. After all, we all know what that means, right?

Well, it is dangerous to assume that words on tax returns or in financial statements mean the same thing the do in common usage. Read on and at the bottom of this post I'll tell you what 'guaranteed' means in IRSSpeak.

Where do you find guaranteed payments?

Guaranteed Payments show up on:

  1. Form 1065 Page One
  2. Form 1065 Schedule K
  3. Form 1065 Schedule K-1 (for each owner who receives them)
  4. Form 1040 Schedule E (although it is buried in the taxable amount listed for the partnership or LLC)

What are guaranteed payments?

Owners of partnership (partners) and LLCs (members) do not get paid wages. Their 'pay' is in the form of capital distributions which are based on % ownership...most of the time.

But what if my % ownership does not reflect the value of my contribution in terms of time, expertise or some other critical factor? Should I really split our 'profits' 50/50 just because I am a 50% owner, when I am the one who puts in the time or brings the expertise to the table to land the business?

Guaranteed payments are the way we can make distributions to the owners that are not related to the agreed-upon profit and loss split.

How guaranteed payments work

Here are some examples:

  1. I own 25% of my LLC. The other owner owns 75%. We have an agreement that whichever one of us brings in a new client receives a 'finder fee' of 1% of first-year revenues from that client. Those payments will be made as guaranteed payments.
  2. I own 50% of my partnership. I work full time in the business and the other 50% owner does not work for the business. We have an agreement that I get paid $20 per hour for each hour worked. Then we split the profits 50/50.
  3. I own 75% of my partnership. I recruit a second partner who has an incredible reputation in the business. He does not work in the business but is an avid blogger and speaks at industry conferences. We have an agreement that he gets a $1,000 bonus for every referral that turns into a client.

What do you as a lender/underwriter do with guaranteed payments?

  1. Form 1065 Page One: Nothing if you have already included them in taxable income either by starting with the bottom line of the return, with net income from Schedule M-1 or by subtracting total expenses on page one. Or include guaranteed payments just as you include other expenses if you are entering each type of expense on your spreadsheet.
  2. Form 1065 Schedule K: Nothing
  3. Form 1065 Schedule K-1 (for each owner who receives them): Include the Guaranteed Payments (Line 4 or 5 depending on which year return you are reviewing) in personal, historical cashflow
  4. Form 1040 Schedule E (although it is buried in the taxable amount listed for the partnership or LLC: Do not use this number. It is a placeholder for the number you actually need, which is either historical personal cashflow or cashflow available from the company.


If you are not in the habit of checking for guaranteed payments on a 1065 K-1 when you are calculating actual historical cashflow you run the risk of missing a significant, recurring source of cashflow.

IRS definition of 'guaranteed':

When it comes to guaranteed payments, this refers to the fact that these payments are guaranteed by an agreement between the partners that is unrelated to the agreement for the profit/loss split.

Just don't look at Schedule K-1, Guaranteed Payments...breathe a sigh of relief...and say to yourself: "Well, at least they are guaranteed income from this company."

One of the ways the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) is impacted occurs when a financial institution grants a concession through modification of the terms of a loan due to the financial difficulty of the borrower. This is called a Troubled Debt Restructure (TDR).

Understanding whether a particular concession is material enough to qualify the loan as a TDR, or whether the cause of the concession is truly the financial difficulty of the borrower, is critical in determining the appropriate balance for the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses.

And since that balance determines the expense, 'Provision for Loss', which determines profits for the period, which determines capital levels...the cascading impact of the wrong decision on a TDR can be significant.

Further, if an examiner or outside auditor does not think your bank or credit union is getting this right, it reduces confidence in the entire ALLL and in other major judgement areas as well...another cascading impact.

Two elements


Just changing terms does not mean you have made a concession. If your financial institution renegotiates to a lower interest rate because you want to keep the customer who could get that lowered rate elsewhere, that is not a concession. That is just good business.

But if you drop the interest rate or extend payments or allow interest-only for a short period which results in terms so favorable the borrower could not get them elsewhere, that is a concession.

But wait, there is more...

Financial Difficulty

If you make a concession just to keep a customer because you don't want to lose their business, but they are not in financial difficulty, then it is not a Troubled Debt Restructure.

Some of the indicators that a borrower may be in financial difficulty even though they are currently paying your loan as agreed include

  • they are out of compliance with another loan
  • you have updated your cashflow forecast and it does not appear they will be able to continue paying your loan as agreed
  • they have filed for bankruptcy
  • their CPA-prepared financial statements indicate in the CPA letter that there is substantial doubt that the company is a going concern

So what's a financial institution to do?

Make sure you are current on the rules for TDRs. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued an update, Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2011-02, Receivables (Topic 310): A Creditor's Determination of Whether a Restructuring Is a Troubled Debt Restructuring, that is effective for nonpublic entities for annual periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2012.

Be sure your software solution for the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) handles TDRs correctly. (I like Sageworks Surety.) Identify correctly which impaired loans should be selected for TDR status. Document your thinking on why, or why not, you will treat that loans as a TDR.

The more transparent your thought process and decision-making, particularly if the examiners and outside auditors agree with your findings, the better.