Goodwill Part II: Goodwill vs. Goodwill Value
All businesses have goodwill; however, not all businesses have goodwill value!
Goodwill, which is usually the largest portion of the purchase price of a business, is the sum of intangibles such as having a good location and trade dress, a negotiated lease in place, trained employees, a website, customers, etc. Not all businesses have goodwill value, which is measured by the amount of earnings the business produces adjusted for the risk of earnings continuing to flow into the future, since all value is in anticipation of future economic benefit.
IRS Revenue Ruling 68-6091 defines this very well. The Ruling states that goodwill value is that component of the earnings stream that is in excess of a reasonable rate of return on the investment made in the Tangible Assets (furniture, fixtures, equipment and vehicles) that the business owns, AND after paying the owner a reasonable market wage for his/her services in the business. The latter is often referred to as a “return on labor,” which has nothing to do with the value of the business since a prospective buyer can get a management job in the same industry and obtain a market rate of compensation without investing a dime in a business opportunity. If there are earnings in excess of these two requirements it must be attributable to goodwill value.
 During prohibition, this was the formula designed by our government to fairly compensate owners of spirit, wine, or beer producers before closing them down. It might be the only good thing that came out of prohibition!