ECONOMIC SUBSTANCE refers to the application of income tax laws, i.e., the substance of the transaction, rather than its form, determines the tax consequences, with few exceptions. The "form" of a transaction is only the label the interested parties attach to their arrangement. For instance, an arrangement might be called a compensation agreement, loan, lease or sale. Documents may support the form, but the courts are not concerned with these labels or papers that purport to govern the transaction -- they focus on its substance. The "substance over form" analysis is used to dissect self-serving transactions between parties, including loans and payments to family members; transactions between related corporations and their shareholders, partnerships and their partners; and between trusts and their beneficiaries. For instance, sale of a home by a parent to a child may be re-characterized by the court as a gift, if the child never pays for it. Related-party transactions provide fertile territory for self-dealing, with the tax benefit as the real motivating purpose, disguised by the form of the transaction. In contrast, arms-length transactions with independent third parties are far less vulnerable.
ORDER OF MAGNITUDE is a number assigned to the ratio of two quantities; two quantities are of the same order of magnitude if one is less than 10 times as large as the other; the number of magnitudes that the quantities differ is specified to within a power of 10.
SWOT ANALYSIS is one of the most used forms of business analysis. A SWOT examines and assesses the impacts of internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats, on the success of the "subject" of analysis. An important part of a SWOT analysis involves listing and evaluating the firms strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Each of these elements is described:
1. Strengths: Strengths are those factors that make an organization more competitive than its marketplace peers. Strengths are what the company has a distinctive advantage at doing or what resources it has that is strategic to the competition. Strengths are, in effect, resources, capabilities and core competencies that the organization holds that can be used effectively to achieve its performance objectives.
2. Weaknesses: A weakness is a limitation, fault, or defect within the organization that will keep it from achieving its objectives; it is what an organization does poorly or where it has inferior capabilities or resources as compared to the competition.
3. Opportunities: Opportunities include any favorable current prospective situation in the organizations environment, such as a trend, market, change or overlooked need that supports the demand for a product or service and permits the organization to enhance its competitive position.
4. Threats: A threat includes any unfavorable situation, trend or impending change in an organizations environment that is currently or potentially damaging or threatening to its ability to compete. It may be a barrier, constraint, or anything that might inflict problems, damages, harm or injury to the organization.
A firms strengths and weaknesses (i.e., its internal environment) are made up of factors over which it has greater relative control. These factors include the firms resources; culture; systems; staffing practices; and the personal values of the firms managers. Meanwhile, an organizations opportunities and threats (i.e., its external environment) are made up of those factors over which the organization has lesser relative control. These factors include, among others, overall demand, the degree of market saturation, government policies, economic condition, social, cultural, and ethical developments; technological developments; ecological developments, and the factors making up Porters Five Forces (i.e., intensity of rivalry, threat of new entrants, threat of substitute products, bargaining power of buyers, and bargaining power of suppliers.)
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