For many years, when an individual outgrew a proprietorship, a corporation was the norm. Today, limited liability companies (LLCs) are popular. But despite the inroads of the LLC, corporations persist. But there are key differences between S and C status.
If you own a business or are chosen to inherit one, it is important to know how the business is structured. Is it a C Corp or an S Corp? Are there other alternatives?
There is a significant difference between the C Corporation and the S Corporation. Fortunately, Forbes helps clarify the distinction in an article titled “Key Facts About Corporations, S Elections & Buy-Sell Agreements.” If nothing else, it might dissuade you from a “corporation” at all.
Essentially, a corporation is always a corporation, but they do come in two flavors based on how you will be taxed. With an S corporation, the corporation will be “disregarded” and your personal profits from it will be taxed to you personally. On the other hand, a C corporation (generally larger in size) will be taxed as a separate entity all on its own before and in addition to any tax paid by owners.
When you are doing business this taxation is clearly important (you hope to make some money, no?). However, when you are planning for the future and longevity of the business this is no less important. Perhaps some different business structures are worth considering. For example, you might jump for the newer, stylish and (maybe) more agile LLC or Limited Liability Company.
If you have a corporation, then make sure you have a buy-sell agreement. The buy-sell agreement allows shareholders to agree how their shares will pass if one or more of them become disabled, retire or die. Otherwise, letting shares loose or in the wrong hands can even threaten the tax structure, never mind the health and longevity of the business in all regards. Then again, maybe you have a different plan for how ownership should transition.
These are a few key facts worth knowing, and if you own or may soon inherit a business then there is much to learn about business ownership and business structure. There are many more key facts to know, and maybe there is work to be done in restructuring the business itself.
Reference: Forbes (March 18, 2014) “Key Facts About Corporations, S Elections & Buy-Sell Agreements”