WHY IS SELLER/OWNER PAY SO LOW?

I'm seeing a common theme. I'm reviewing CIM's and the owner/seller pay is $120K or so (or less), with $1-2 Million in EBITDA. Since I'm leaving industry to acquire, I surmise that I will need to pay myself the seller's current salary in order to calculate the ROI model for post-acquisition. I understand that I may be able to negotiate with my investors a slightly higher salary, but why would the owner naturally suppress their own W-2 earnings? Is there some sort of tax benefit that I don't know about?



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