Fair Market Value

“Fair market value” is defined as

the price, expressed in terms of cash equivalents, at which property would change hands between a hypothetical willing and able buyer and a hypothetical willing and able seller, acting at arms length in an open and unrestricted market, when neither is under compulsion to buy or sell and when both have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

See IRS Rev. Rul. 59-60, 1959-1, Cum. Bulletin 237, codified at 26 C.F.R. § 20.2031-1(b).

The fair market value standard incorporates certain assumptions, including the assumptions that the hypothetical purchaser is reasonably prudent and rational but is not motivated by any synergistic or strategic influences; that the business will continue as a going concern and not be liquidated; that the hypothetical transaction will be conducted in cash or equivalents; and that the parties are willing and able to consummate the transaction.

These assumptions might not, and probably do not, reflect the actual conditions of the market in which the subject business might be sold. However, these conditions are assumed because they yield a uniform standard of value, after applying generally-accepted valuation techniques, which allows meaningful comparison between businesses which are similarly situated.

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