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BGBC: ‘RAIDS’ may be behind spouse’s drop in income

July 17, 2013
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By Howard I. Gross, Steven W. Reed, Erika M. Gowan and Casey L. Higgs

In family disputes, we’re often faced with a dilemma in which the supporting spouse’s income suddenly and/or dramatically decreases without valid support or explanation. In the valuation industry, this disorder is commonly known as “R.A.I.D.S.” or Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome. Your client’s spouse may have been diagnosed with this terrible affliction as a spousal- or child-support payment obligation is about to be set.

R.A.I.D.S. is most common in self-employed individuals and business owners because they have ownership and control of the financial records of the business, which makes manipulation possible. However, there are times, of course, where a decrease in income is legitimate. For example, the economic recession in 2008 took a toll on small businesses and many companies experienced a decline in profits around this time. Owners of construction companies, residential and commercial builders, and other companies in the real estate industry likely experienced a decline in profits during the recession. There also could be internal factors that cause a legitimate decrease in income. For example, a company losing one of its largest customers or perhaps one of its key employees is cause for a decline in profits. Both external and internal factors present may cause a drop in income to be legitimate.

When a drop in income cannot be attributed to such external and internal factors or may seem unjustified, R.A.I.D.S may be the culprit. The supporting spouse finds ways to hide or divert income so it appears their business is suffering, which results in less money available for spousal- and child-support payments. There are many ways that income can be diverted or hidden by business owners, including, but not limited to:

Revenues can be held until the next fiscal year and not recorded in the year in which the services were performed or the sale was made, thus reducing revenues and income.

Sometimes revenues are just not collected, which is evidenced by a rise in accounts receivable. This reduces cash basis revenues and income.

There also may be several large equipment- and capital-expenditure purchases made unnecessarily, which increases expenses and reduces income.

The business owner may decide to run his or her personal expenses through the business, which would be evidenced by an increase in expenses and a reduction in income.

Another common area that is manipulated is cash. In a cash-intensive business like a restaurant and bar, skimming cash can go undetected. This could be evidenced by a decrease in revenues and a gross profit margin that is not in line with industry standards.

There can be diverted payments to third parties disguised as legitimate business expenses. This results in an increase in expenses and a reduction in income.

The business owner may have customers pay in cash or pay another related entity.

Not recording assets on the financial records and/or federal income tax returns.

Rapid pay down or payoff of substantial mortgages, personal loans, commercial loans or other liabilities before maturity dates, resulting in an increase in expenses and reduction in income.

Temporarily shutting down the business which gives the appearance the business was failing and without income.

Even non-owner employees going through divorces are susceptible to R.A.I.D.S, although it is not as common. One way that income can be diverted is by not working overtime when overtime was available and taken in prior years.

There are ways that R.A.I.D.S. can be detected. Has the spouse’s lifestyle spending changed at all? Does the spouse seem genuinely concerned about his or her own future earnings capacity? Has the spouse expressed concern about the business to any friends or relatives? Collectively these can help to paint a financial picture of the situation.

Forensic accounting specialists and business valuators frequently help attorneys determine if the decrease in income is legitimate or if the income is contrived. A business valuator who also has the skills of a forensic accountant can help with normalizing the earnings of the business when conducting the business valuation. If you suspect your client may be a victim of R.A.I.D.S and you wish to find a cure, seek a seasoned forensic accounting/business valuation specialist.•

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Howard I. Gross, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFP; Steven W. Reed, CPA/ABV; Erika M. Gowan, CPA/CFF, CFE; and Casey L. Higgs, CPA/CFF, CFE, CVA are with BGBC Partners, LLP – Litigation, Forensic and Business Valuation. Contact BGBC at 317-633-4700 or visit www.bgbc.com. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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