Business Structures Internal Revenue Service

business structure

Both types of businesses must maintain a registered agent and update the agent information on file with the state as necessary. Most states require LLCs and corporations to file an annual report or franchise tax reports to maintain an active status. The annual report form will ask you to ensure you have updated information pertaining to your business and you will have to pay a filing fee. To maintain this liability protection, both corporations and LLCs should always keep business and personal finances separate. Owners should sign documents and contracts on behalf of the company, not in their own personal capacity.

In addition, corporate minute books must be maintained to track certain actions. It helps to know the difference between a legal entity and a tax entity. The legal entity refers to how the state, courts, and others view your business, while the tax entity refers to how the business will be taxed. Here are six of the reasons that limited liability companies have become a popular choice for small businesses. Separately, an S corporation might be right for you if your company reaches a consistent level of growth.

Examples of Types of Businesses

As mentioned previously, companies like Google will often use specialized legal entities like corporations in order to protect themselves from litigation and other possible lawsuits. Even though there are many benefits to forming a Limited Liability Company or LLP, the biggest benefit is the protection against lawsuits. Limited Liability Companies are still considered to be relatively “new.” Their entity was first recognized in the 1970s as the offspring of both the corporate and sole proprietorship/partnership form. Due to this dual nature, an LLC takes on the characteristics of both legal entities. However, as a result of being a “new” legal entity and having characteristics of both a corporation and partnership, states differ in their treatment of LLCs.

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However, both legal and tax entities offer benefits that are best consulted with a CPA or attorney that understands the ins and outs of your business. However, shareholders retain the power to elect directors, and individual shareholders can be elected as a director or appointed as an officer. The individual rules of any corporation are dictated by its corporate bylaws, which is a detailed set of rules adopted by the Board of Directors after the corporation is formed.

Corporations and Taxes

A corporation is a legal entity separate and apart from its shareholders whereas a company may either be separate or merely be the business owner. A corporation can have an unlimited number of owners whereas a sole proprietorship or partnership has a limited number of owners. A sole proprietorship is the most basic type of business structure and the easiest one to start.

The limited liability company is also a separate legal entity providing the owners the limited liability protection as corporations do. As mentioned above, corporations are double taxed; once on their corporate earnings and once on an owner’s individual earnings. This double taxation is part of C corporations, but it’s not part of S corporations. S corps are able to recognize corporate earnings and losses on their personal tax returns and are only required to pay taxes once.

  • Tax entity examples include C Corporations, S Corporations, and sole proprietorships.
  • The shareholders are required to elect the board of directors in an annual meeting.
  • Once you choose a business name, select the board of directors and file articles of incorporation to register your C Corporation with your state’s secretary of state.
  • An LLC’s operating agreement could specify that all members receive an equal share of the profits anyway.
  • Jane Haskins practiced law for 20 years, representing small businesses in startup, dissolution, business transactions and litigation.
  • There are a few different company types that do not count as corporations.

A California LLC generally offers liability protection similar to that of a corporation but is taxed differently. Domestic LLCs may be managed by one or more managers or one or more members. In addition to filing the applicable documents with the Secretary of State, an operating agreement among the members as to the affairs of the LLC and the conduct of its business is required. The LLC does not file the operating agreement with the Secretary of State but maintains it at the office where the LLC’s records are kept. A California corporation generally is a legal entity which exists separately from its owners. While normally limiting the owners from personal liability, taxes are levied on the corporation as well as on the shareholders.

When To Use This Structure

Under the law, corporations possess many of the same rights and responsibilities as individuals. They can enter contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets, and pay taxes. S Corps and C Corps are similar in that they are both incorporated, for-profit companies governed by state corporation laws. They both offer liability protection to the owners, are comprised of a board of directors, must have corporate bylaws, and have shareholders meetings. The biggest difference between these two entities is the tax status.


If you use an attorney to incorporate your business, expect to pay $500 to $700+. Sole proprietorships are the simplest business structure to set up because there’s little paperwork involved. Let’s take a more in-depth look at DBAs and all business structures.

In addition to forming LLCs or corporations, we also offer a variety of other formation services and worry-free compliance. A C corporation may be able to avoid double taxation by filing as an S corporation. Reporting requirements are generally simpler for an LLC than for a corporation. Partnerships, corporations, or noncitizens can own or partially own LLCs.

  • A C corp. must pay taxes quarterly in addition to owners paying annual income tax on their share of the profits.
  • So, it can file documents, uphold its brand identity, and secure funding from investors and lenders.
  • Do you have questions about business formations and want to speak to an expert?
  • You may not have realized it, but if you are working on a business idea right now, you are already considered a sole proprietorship or partnership.

In fact, an LLC is a unique hybrid entity that combines the simplicity of a sole proprietorship with the liability protections offered by starting a corporation. The company’s shares of stock can be transferred by one owner to another providing greater flexibility in the ownership structure than other types of business entities. The IRS gives corporations their own tax number and require corporations to pay taxes on their revenue. Taxes are paid on the money earned by the corporation and also the earnings paid to owners in the form of dividends and salary. In other words, corporations are taxed twice on their earnings, once at the corporate level and once at the individual level. A company is any entity that engages in business and can be a proprietorship, partnership or corporation.

The most common forms of business are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and S corporation. A Limited Liability Company is a business structure allowed by state statute. Legal and tax considerations enter into selecting a business structure. The profits are only taxed when they’re distributed to the individual members.

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Corporate officers are assigned to handle the day-to-day operations of the business. The shareholders are considered owners of the corporation but remain separate from business decisions and daily operations of the corporation . Without limited liability protection, your home could be used as collateral to repay the businesses debt after a lawsuit or bankruptcy. This is, by far, one of the greatest advantages gained by forming a business entity. No matter which entity you choose, both entities offer big benefits to your business.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions webpage for answers to the most frequently asked business entity questions. For example, Alphabet, under whose name Google operates, General Motors, Future lifestyle, Toyota are the same major business corporations across the world. LLCs can be managed by their members , or they can be managed by one or more managers, with the members acting more like passive investors. One of the most important steps when starting a business is deciding on the right form of your business. Laura Norris, J.D., an Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of SCU Entrepreneur’s Law Clinic, provides advice on which form your business should take.

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By budgeting reporting these personalized touches, you differentiate yourself from the competition and build upon your reputation. You are now seen as a business that puts in extra time for their clients because they care. Corporation Profit Distribution – A Corporation’s profits may be reinvested in the business , or a portion may be paid as dividends to shareholders. Losses of a Corporation are not reported or claimed by the company’s shareholders.


I am licensed in Ohio and California, and I leverage the latest in technology to provide top quality legal services to a nationwide client-base. This enables me to serve my clients in a cost-effective manner that doesn’t skimp on personal service. The laws of the state—which vary from state to state— govern LLCs and Corporations. Generally, LLCs have less government oversight and fewer formalities than Corporations.

You may use the form or prepare your own statutorily compliant document. In simple terms, incorporation is a stage for an establishment to become a registered corporation. Let’s dive in further and discuss some more differences between the two. Concern Of Double TaxationDouble Taxation is a situation wherein a tax is levied twice on the same source of income. It usually occurs when the same income is taxed both at corporate as well as at the individual level. Approval of the same marks establishing a corporation for a time that can even outlive its founders or shareholders.

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