Choosing a Business Structure

After years of declines, new business formation rose in 2011 for the first time since 2006, according to a most recent statistics compiled by the Kauffmann Foundation.¹ For individuals pursuing the dream of exercising their entrepreneurial muscles, they will face the same question, “Which business structure should I adopt?”Each option presents its own set of pros and cons. And this overview is not intended as tax or legal advice and may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. So please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding the most appropriate business structure for your organization.

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

This structure is the simplest. But it creates no separation from its owner. Income from the business is simply added to the individual’s personal tax return.

Advantages: Easy to set up and simple to maintain.

Disadvantages: Owners are personally liable for the business’s financial obligations, exposing their personal assets (house, savings, etc.). It does not offer the prestige or sense of permanence of a corporation or LLC.

C-Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, making it easier to raise money, issue stock and transfer ownership. Its life is perpetual and will survive the owner’s death.

Advantages: There may be tax advantages, including more allowable business expenses. It protects owners from personal liability for the company’s financial obligations and may lend a measure of prestige and permanence.

Disadvantages: More expensive to set up, the paperwork and formality are greater than for a sole proprietorship or LLC. Income may be taxed twice, once at the corporate level and when distributed to owners as dividend income.

S-Corporation

After forming a corporation an owner may elect an “S-Corporation Status” by adopting a resolution to that effect and submitting Form 2553 to the IRS.

The S-corporation is taxed like a sole proprietorship, i.e., the company’s income will pass through to shareholders and reported on their respective personal tax returns.

Advantages: S-corporations avoid the double taxation issue associated with C-corporations, while enjoying many of its tax advantages. Owners are shielded from personal liability for the company’s financial obligations. It provides the prestige of a corporation for small businesses.

Disadvantages: S-corporations do not have all the tax-deductible expenses of a C-corporation. The cost of set up, the paperwork and formality are greater than for a sole proprietorship or LLC. S-corporations have certain restrictions, including a 100 or fewer shareholders requirement, shareholders must be U.S. citizens and it cannot be owned by another business.

Limited Liability Company

An LLC is a hybrid between a corporation and a sole proprietorship, offering easy management and pass-through taxation and the liability protection of a corporation. Similar to a corporation, it is a separate legal entity, but there is no stock.

Advantages: LLCs provide the protections of a corporation, but taxed similar to a
sole proprietorship.

Disadvantages: Typically more expensive to form than a sole proprietorship, LLC s require more paperwork and formalized behavior.

Remember, the choice of business structure is not an irreversible decision. You
may amend your business structure to accommodate your changing needs and circumstances.

  1. The Kauffman Foundation, July 31, 2013

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2013 FMG Suite.

Post by Phil Ratcliff

Phil Ratcliff, President of rebel Financial, is a senior financial advisor that holds an AIF®, CFP®, ChFC®, and CLU® certifications. He started his career at American Express Financial Advisors in 2003, then moved to AXA Advisors for 7 years before founding rebel Financial LLC in 2013.

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