One common way that contractors attempt to avoid affiliation is by limiting a particular individual to a minority ownership interest (often 49%).
But as a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals case demonstrates, when a company’s owners are spouses (or other close family members), the SBA may disregard the legal ownership split, and treat the family members as one person for purposes of the affiliation rules.
Companies controlled by a father and son, respectively, were affiliated under the SBA’s affiliation rules because there was no clear fracture of the family members’ business relationships.
In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that a son’s company was affiliated with a company owned by his father because the son had worked for many years at the father’s company, the son’s company leased office space from the father’s company, and the two companies engaged in significant amounts of subcontracting.
A self-certified small business was found affiliated with a company owned by the business owner’s father, even though the son’s company had no meaningful business relationship with the father’s company.
In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals found that the self-certified small business had not rebutted the presumption of affiliation with the father’s company because the father and son were jointly involved in a third business, and thus could not establish that their personal business interests were separate.
A small business was affiliated with companies owned by the business owner’s father and siblings, based on the family relationship and the companies’ ongoing history of doing business together.
In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the small business had not successfully rebutted the regulatory presumption that companies owned by close family members are affiliated, because the small business had earned substantial revenues from the alleged affiliates, and intended to issue a subcontract to both affiliates with respect to the procurement at issue.
The SBA affiliation rules are not always intuitive, and perhaps no SBA affiliation rule is as little understood as the so-called “identity of interest” rule under 13 C.F.R. 121.103(f).
Identity of interest affiliation can arise in several ways, including when close family members also have business ties. As demonstrated in a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, a close family relationship between two business owners, plus significant business ties, may cause affiliation between the businesses.
Affiliation based on family relationships is perhaps one of the least understood SBA affiliation rules, and continues to trip up many small government contractors. Case in point: a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision finding a small business affiliated with a company controlled by the mother of the small business’s owner, based on the family relationship and subcontracts between the companies.