Safe Harbor

DEFINITION of 'Safe Harbor'

1. A legal provision to reduce or eliminate liability as long as good faith is demonstrated.

2. A form of shark repellent implemented by a target company acquiring a business that is so poorly regulated that the target itself is less attractive. In effect, this gives the target company a "safe harbor."

3. An accounting method that avoids legal or tax regulations and allows for a simpler method (usually) of determining a tax consequence than those methods described by the precise language of the tax code.

BREAKING DOWN 'Safe Harbor'

1. In the first case, under SEC rules, safe-harbor provisions protect management from liability for making financial projections and forecasts made in good faith.

2. When trying to scare away sharks, it sometimes helps to stink up the water.

3. Here's an example of an accounting safe harbor: a firm is losing money and therefore cannot claim an investment credit, so it transfers this claim to a company that is profitable and can therefore claim the credit. Then the profitable company leases the asset back to the unprofitable company and passes on the tax savings.

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