Demystifying Franchise as an Asset or Liability for Small Businesses

The world of franchising offers a compelling path for aspiring entrepreneurs. Owning a franchise leverages the established brand recognition and successful business model of a franchisor, providing a head start compared to starting a new business from scratch. However, navigating the financial aspects of a franchise can be complex, particularly when it comes to franchise assets. This article explores into the world of franchise assets, specifically focusing on intangible assets and their tax implications for small business owners.

Franchise Assets: More Than Just Tangible Inventory

Traditionally, assets are thought of as tangible items like equipment, inventory, or even real estate a business owns. In the realm of franchising, however, a significant portion of a franchisee’s (the owner of the franchise) investment lies in intangible assets. These are assets that lack physical form but hold significant value to the business. The franchise agreement itself is a key example. It outlines the terms and conditions under which the franchisee operates, granting them the right to use the franchisor’s (the company that licences the franchise) brand name, intellectual property (IP), and established business model.

Key Components of a Franchise Asset

Several key components make up a franchise asset:

  • Franchise Fees: The initial franchise fee is a significant upfront payment a franchisee makes to the franchisor for the right to operate under their brand and system. This fee can also include initial training and ongoing support.
  • Licence: The franchise agreement essentially grants the franchisee a licence to use the franchisor’s intellectual property, which may include trademarks, copyrights, and patents. This licence allows the franchisee to replicate the successful business model established by the franchisor.
  • Business Model: A franchise system thrives on a well-defined and proven business model. The franchisee gains access to this blueprint, including operational manuals, marketing strategies, and established supplier relationships. This reduces the risk associated with developing a new business from scratch.

Beyond these core elements, franchise assets can also encompass:

  • Goodwill: This intangible asset represents the positive reputation and customer loyalty associated with the franchisor’s brand. By leveraging the established brand name, franchisees benefit from customer recognition and trust.
  • Ongoing Fees: Franchise agreements often include ongoing royalty fees, marketing contributions, and advertising fees paid by the franchisee to the franchisor. These fees contribute to the continued development and success of the entire franchise system.

The Tax Advantages of Intangible Franchise Assets

Understanding how franchise assets are treated for tax purposes offers valuable insights for small business owners. The good news is that most intangible franchise assets, including the initial franchise fee, can be classified as amortisable assets. Amortisation allows franchisees to spread the cost of the asset over its useful life, typically the length of the franchise agreement, as a tax-deductible expense on their business tax return. This reduces the franchisee’s taxable income and helps them pay the initial financial investment.

Here’s a breakdown of key tax considerations:

  • Amortisation Schedule: The franchisee must determine a reasonable amortisation schedule for the franchise asset. This schedule will dictate the annual deduction amount claimed on their tax return. A tax consultant can help navigate this process.
  • Ongoing Fees: Ongoing royalty fees and marketing contributions are typically considered ordinary business expenses and are deductible in the year they are incurred.

Understanding the tax implications of franchise assets empowers franchisees to make informed financial decisions. However, it’s important to remember that tax laws can be complex, and regulations may vary depending on location. Consulting with a qualified tax advisor specialising in franchise businesses is crucial for ensuring proper tax treatment of franchise assets.

The Broader Value of Franchise Assets

While the tax benefits are significant, the value of franchise assets extends beyond deductions. These intangible assets are the foundation for a franchisee’s success. The established brand name, proven business model, and ongoing support from the franchisor all contribute to a franchisee’s ability to establish a profitable business.

Franchise assets also offer advantages when it comes to:

  • Transferability: In some cases, franchise assets can be transferred to a new owner if the franchise agreement allows it. This can increase the resale value of the franchise business.
  • Risk Mitigation: By leveraging the franchisor’s established brand and business model, franchisees reduce the risk associated with developing a new business from the ground up.


Understanding franchise assets, particularly their intangible nature and tax implications, is crucial for aspiring and existing franchise owners. By leveraging the value of these assets and navigating the financial aspects effectively, franchisees can increase their chances of success in the competitive world of small business ownership.

Considering a franchise opportunity? Don’t stop there! Before diving headfirst, equip yourself with the necessary knowledge. Here are some next steps to ensure a smooth journey:

  • Research Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD): The FDD is a legal document provided by the franchisor that outlines the franchise business, including financial information and fees associated with the franchise. Carefully review the FDD to understand the specific breakdown of franchise assets and their associated costs.
  • Consult with a Franchise Attorney: A qualified franchise attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities of the franchise agreement and ensure your rights are protected. They can also advise you on the tax implications of franchise assets specific to your situation.
  • Seek Guidance from a Tax Consultant: A tax consultant specialising in franchise businesses can help you develop a sound tax strategy that maximises the benefits of amortisation and other tax deductions associated with franchise assets.

By taking these steps, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of franchise assets and their impact on your financial well-being. With this knowledge, you can confidently embark on your entrepreneurial journey within the exciting world of franchising. If you have any questions or need further clarification on investing in a franchise, you can reach out to us today. We will be more than glad to have you speak with us.


What is a franchise, and is it considered an asset or a liability?

 A franchise is a type of business opportunity where the franchisor grants the franchisee the right to use its business model, processes, and resources. A franchise can be considered an asset if it is viewed as an intangible asset that gives the franchisee the rights to operate the business. However, it can also be considered a liability if the associated expenses outweigh the benefits.

What are franchise fees, and how do they impact a franchisee's financial statements?

Franchise fees are the initial and ongoing fees that a franchisee pays to the franchisor for the rights to operate under the franchise agreement. These fees are typically recorded as an expense on the franchisee's financial statements, affecting the balance sheet and cash flow.

What is the difference between a franchisor and a franchisee?

A franchisor is the entity that grants the franchise rights to the franchisee, while the franchisee is the individual or organisation that operates the franchised business.

How are franchise rights treated in terms of accounting and financial reporting?

Franchise rights are considered intangible assets and are typically recorded on the balance sheet of the franchisee. These rights may need to be periodically evaluated for impairment and are potentially subject to amortisation.

Can a franchise agreement be transferred to another party?

In most cases, franchise agreements include clauses that outline the conditions under which they can be transferred to another party. The transfer typically requires approval from the franchisor to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement.

What are the main obligations and covenants within a franchise agreement?

A franchise agreement usually includes obligations and covenants that both the franchisor and franchisee must adhere to. These may involve operational requirements, financial commitments, non-compete clauses, and other terms that govern the relationship between the parties.

How does franchising impact taxation for both franchisors and franchisees?

Franchising can have tax implications for both franchisors and franchisees. Franchisors may need to report franchise fees as income, while franchisees may be able to deduct certain expenses related to operating the franchise business.

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