Becoming a partner in a physician practice or dental group is a dream come true and comes as the result of goals setting, sacrifice and an investment of time and self. It can also be a cauldron of financial complexity.
Be prepared. Although partnership can give you a voice in how the medical group is run, job security, and additional income, it comes with complications. Partners assume the risk in the practice, but those who are entrepreneurial and productive can realize success, even in a smaller partnership. There is no silver bullet or one size fits all approach, but here are the major landmines to be mindful of:
1. The Buy In: Some groups have you buy in with dollars, other have you buy in with time served. The difference between what you earn and what you’re paid goes toward your equity share in the group. That might include part of a building, some medical equipment, goodwill, and a share of the accounts receivable. Negotiate your partnership contract. Have built in compensation increases for reaching revenue goals or cost-saving benchmarks, as well as increases to keep pace with inflation, etc.
2. The Additional Expenses: A step up the ladder comes at a price – now you will be responsible for the personal expenses that the practice paid on your behalf prior to partnership including health insurance, malpractice insurance, Social Security and Medicare taxes. Set up an HSA to pay medical bills and contribute to it as a retirement vehicle, it is triple tax free. You won’t have withholding, so consider making quarterly estimated tax payments. You may get paid on a K-1.
3. Shared Business Costs: Be aware that as a partner, you will now share in costs of running the practice whether administrative, operational, or related to insurance, taxes and financial fees, etc. Some of the practice expenses will be variable and some fixed, some will fluctuate based on how many patients you see and how much revenue is generated. This also means your income will variable.
4. Financial Complexity: The more you make, the more you pay in taxes. Tax minimization strategies still exist and there are business structuring options available – tax reform legislation now provides a deduction of up to 20% for pass-through entities on qualified business income.
5. Retirement options: Often there are additional retirement savings options and investment plans available to partners, now is the time to consider contributing up to the annual limit. Whether early retirement is on your mind or not, you need to plan now to exit the practice later. Estate planning alone will not protect your family, but Business Exit Planning will protect your financial future.
Contact Us: Making partner is a significant life event! It is a great time to review your financial situation. Make a budget, look at your insurance, plan your investments, and put together an asset protection plan as well as an estate plan. As mentioned in the article It is also a good time to have a review of business structure and tax situation with your Fuoco Group CPA. Congratulations! Becoming a partner can bring financial complexity, but your TFG professionals are here to help you reap the rewards.