This post marks part three of our blog series debunking the business structure selection process. Today, we look at the tax implications of the structure you select. Perhaps less of an influence on your decision-making process and more an effect of the choice you’ve made, keep these items in mind this tax season and beyond.
In a sole proprietorship situation, your business and personal taxes will not be separate because your sole proprietorship income is your income. Think of it as one income with one return. The business will not need to file its own return. This does allow you to receive the lowest tax rates of any of the business structures. Filing will involve a Schedule C (to report profits and losses) and the Form 1040 usually involved in your personal return. All profits will be taxed in the year they are earned. First-timers should prepare themselves to pay self-employment taxes. This means you are solely responsible for your social security and Medicare contributions.
Similarly, in a partnership arrangement, the partners will need to pay taxes on their share of profits from the business, even if that money is staying in the business. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is a pass-through entity. In this situation, Schedule K-1 of Form 1065 will be critical to filing. Again, self-employment taxes will come into play on your personal return.
On the federal level, taxation of Limited Liability Companies will treat the business as either a corporation, partnership or disregarded entity. If there are two or more owners, the LLC will be taxed like a partnership: with pass-through taxation, and taxes paid on the personal tax returns of its owners rather than at a business level. If the LLC has only one member, it will be treated as an entity separate from its owner. In either case, if the LLC files Form 8832 it will affirmatively elect to be treated as a corporation. However, LLCs also have variable state tax implications based on your individual state.
Although a cooperative operates as a corporation, its operations pass-through income to its members. As we’ve seen in previous examples, this means the individual members will pay taxes on their cooperative gains when they file their personal returns. Certain cooperatives do obtain tax-exempt status. Based on these variables, tax forms for cooperatives may require 1099-PATR or 3491 Consume Cooperative Exemption Application.
Electing to structure your business as a corporation will make it a separate legal entity from its owners. These entities will file taxes with a Form 1120 or 1120S. The primary difference between the two main types: S-Corps and C-Corps, is the tax implications.
S-Corps receive some tax savings compared to their C-Corp counterpart. Owners treat taxes on income as they would for a partnership or sole proprietorship. Shareholders are taxed on the dividends they are paid. Any remaining income is paid to owners as a distribution and thus taxed at a lower rate. Businesses might not elect to be a S-Corp because they have too many shareholders (there’s a 100 shareholder limit) or because they want to keep money in the business, a benefit to the C-Corp structure.
Corporate taxes are often lower than personal taxes, but C-Corps can incur double taxation. First, the corporation is taxed when it makes a profit. Second, these same funds are taxed when dividends are paid to shareholders or when owners draw a salary. Then again, owners will not be taxed personally if the money remains in the business.