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Who is an accredited investor?

An accredited investor, in the context of a natural person, includes anyone who:

  • earned income that exceeded $200,000 (or $300,000 together with a spouse or spousal equivalent) in each of the prior two years, and reasonably expects the same for the current year, OR
  • has a net worth over $1 million, either alone or together with a spouse or spousal equivalent (excluding the value of the person’s primary residence), OR
  • holds in good standing a Series 7, 65, or 82 license.

There are other categories of accredited investors, including the following, which may be relevant to you:

  • any trust, with total assets in excess of $5 million, not formed specifically to purchase the subject securities, whose purchase is directed by a sophisticated person, OR
  • certain entity with total investments in excess of $5 million, not formed to specifically purchase the subject securities, OR
  • any entity in which all of the equity owners are accredited investors.

In this context, a sophisticated person means the person must have, or the company or private fund offering the securities reasonably believes that this person has, sufficient knowledge and experience in financial and business matters to evaluate the merits and risks of the prospective investment.

How do I calculate my net worth?

Generally, to qualify as an accredited investor under the net worth test, you must have a net worth that exceeds $1 million, either alone or with a spouse or spousal equivalent, at the time of the sale of the securities.  If calculating joint net worth with a spouse or spousal equivalent, it is not necessary that property be held jointly and the securities being purchased do not have to be acquired jointly.  Calculating net worth involves adding up all your assets and subtracting all your liabilities.  The resulting sum is your net worth.

Spousal equivalent.  A spousal equivalent means a cohabitant occupying a relationship generally equivalent to that of a spouse.

The value of your primary residence is not included in your net worth calculation.  In addition, any mortgage or other loan on the primary residence does not count as a liability up to the fair market value of the residence.  If the loan is for more than the fair market value of the primary residence (i.e., if your mortgage is underwater), then the loan amount that is over the fair market value counts as a liability under the net worth test.

Further, any increase in the loan amount (other than for the purchase of the primary residence) in the 60 days prior to your purchase of the securities (even if the loan amount does not exceed the value of the primary residence) will count as a liability as well.  The reason for this is to prevent net worth from being artificially inflated through converting home equity into cash or other assets.

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