Classification: Under the Radar
Section: Covenants
Negotiation Time: Minimal
Transaction Costs: Insignificant
Major Impact: Deal Management and Risk Management

Transfer Taxes

What is This? Some states tax certain aspects of a business acquisition, such as imposing taxes on the transfer of Owned Real Property. Here, the parties identify the party responsible for paying those taxes and taking care of any associated obligations.

The Middle Ground: This covenant requires the Seller to pay all taxes and fees incurred in connection with the transfer of the Purchased Assets (“transfer taxes”) when such taxes come due, and calls for the Buyer to reimburse the Seller for 50% of the taxed amount. It also requires the Seller to make any necessary filings in relation to transfer taxes, with the Buyer’s cooperation.

Purpose: This main function of this requirement is to ensure that someone pays the transfer taxes so that neither side has to deal with fines or other penalties resulting from one or both parties overlooking their tax obligations. The likelihood is that the Buyer and Seller will not even discuss it and will simply accept the local custom to determine who pays.

Buyer Preference: The Buyer wants the Seller to pay the transfer taxes, but will usually settle for either splitting the bill or allowing local custom to dictate the outcome.

Seller Preference: Similarly, the Seller wants this obligation to fall on the Buyer but will typically agree to a 50-50 split or to defer to local custom.

Differences in a Stock Sale Transaction Structure: None.


We want The Middle Ground to be an ongoing dialogue for and resource to the lower middle market M&A community. The outline above is generally applicable, but there is always specific case law and nuance around certain industries that can be useful in helping buyers and sellers come together. If you are a lawyer or deal professional, we encourage you to add your perspective below.