Friday, October 20, 2017
Start a Business Legal Entities

Legal Entities

Choosing the Right Structure

Many factors must be considered when choosing the best form of business ownership or structure. The choice you make can have an impact on multiple aspects of your business, including taxes, liability, ownership succession, and others.

To help you select the form of ownership that is right for you, our experts at Servicios Latinos will advise you about the pros and cons of different types of ownership, including sole proprietorship, partnering, corporations, and limited liability companies.

Sole Proprietorship

The sole proprietorship is a simple, informal structure that is inexpensive to form; it is usually owned by a single person or a marital community. The owner operates the business, is personally liable for all business debts, can freely transfer all or part of the business, and can report profit or loss on personal income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The LLC is generally considered advantageous for small businesses because it combines the limited personal liability feature of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership and sole proprietorship. Profits and losses can be passed through the company to its members or the LLC can elect to be taxed like a corporation. LLC-s, do not have stock and are not required to observe corporate formalities. Owners are called members, and the LLC is managed by these members or by appointed managers.

General Partnership

Partnerships are inexpensive to form; they require an agreement between two or more individuals or entities to jointly own and operate a business. Profit, loss, and managerial duties are shared among the partners, and each partner is personally liable for partnership debts. Partnerships do not pay taxes, but must file an informational return; individual partners report their share of profits and losses on their personal return. Short-term partnerships are also known as joint ventures.

C Corporation (Inc. or Ltd.)

This is a complex business structure with more startup costs than many other forms. A corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, who own shares of stock in the company. Corporations can be created for profit or nonprofit purposes and may be subject to increased licensing fees and government regulation than other structures. Profits are taxed both at the corporate level and again when distributed to shareholders.

Shareholders are not personally liable for corporate obligations unless corporate formalities have not been observed; such formalities provide evidence that the corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders. Failure to do so may open the shareholders to liability of the corporation's debts.

Subchapter S Corporations

A tax election only; this election enables the shareholder to treat the earnings and profits as distributions and have them pass through directly to their personal tax return. The catch here is that the shareholder, if working for the company, and if there is a profit, must pay him/herself wages, and must meet standards of "reasonable compensation". This can vary by geographical region as well as occupation, but the basic rule is to pay yourself what you would have to pay someone to do your job, as long as there is enough profit. If you do not do this, the IRS can reclassify all of the earnings and profit as wages, and you will be liable for all of the payroll taxes on the total amount.

In summary, deciding the form of ownership that best suits your business venture should be given careful consideration. Use your key advisers to assist you in the process.