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Incorporating: LLC, S Corp, or C Corp

Jul 2, 2008
If you run a successful small business you may have thought about incorporating. You have probably heard of the many benefits that incorporating offers a small business owner, but you always heard that setting up a corporation was both expensive and timely. The way it used to be was you would have to go to a qualified attorney specializing in incorporating small businesses. Thanks to the many online incorporating resources available today, incorporating can now be set out at a reasonable cost, and with relative ease. The key to setting up a corporate entity is guidance, which allows you to submit the proper forms to the proper agencies. There is no need to pay an expensive attorney to fill out those forms for you; you can do it yourself with a little bit of research.

The most difficult part of incorporating your business is not the incorporating process itself, but rather choosing an appropriate entity that is suitable for your needs. Some of the common choices include a Limited Liability Company (LLC), an S corporation, or a C corporation. This is not a one size fits all choice, what might be appropriate for one small business owner, might be the opposite of what another small business owner needs. You will have to do a little bit of research, as each corporate structure has its positives and negatives. If you take a look at a corporate entity table, you will be able to weigh your needs with the corporate structure that is right for you.

The first corporate structure will take a look at is the C Corporation. A C Corp is what you think about when you think big business. C corporations are probably most suitable for large-scale corporations. The reason being is that they are the most complex to operate. You must hold annual stockholder and Board of Directors meetings, and keep track of corporate minutes. In addition to the more complex record-keeping C corps are the most expensive corporate structure to operate. You will have to file to different tax returns, one for yourself and one for your corporation. Depending on your state you may have to pay additional taxes, like in the case of California. It's also important to realize that double taxation is a possibility, without proper planning, this adds to your costs. Now, these negatives don't come without their positives. C corporations offer the most benefits of all the corporate structures. You get full deductions for health and disability insurance. Full deductions for medical expenses, above and beyond any existing coverage. Stock options are treated favorably, due to capital gains. Moreover, life insurance, pension plans, and dinner allowance are just some of the many benefits available.

The S Corporation offers many of the fringe benefits associated with C corporations, but without a lot of the headaches. You don't have to deal a double taxation, and income and/or losses flow directly through to the owners. You are, however, limited to fewer than 75 stockholders, the stocks must be United States owned, must be a domestic corporation, and only offer one class of stock. Much like to C Corporation you must keep corporate minutes, and you must hold stockholder and Board of Directors meetings annually. The most attractive benefit the S Corp offers is the self-employment tax benefit. With S corporations you can save up to 50% on your Medicare and Social Security taxes. If you make more than the $102,000 (2008 limit) your Social Security savings will be nonexistent.

The Limited Liability Company, or LLC, is popular for many small businesses, as it is the easiest to administrate. You do not have to hold board of director meetings, stockholder meetings, or keep track of corporate minutes. LLC's offer superior liability protection. There are also no restrictions as far as member numbers, foreign investors, like the case is with an S corp. The Limited Liability Company is the preferred choice when it comes to businesses that deal in real estate. Real estate gains are taxed at the capital gains rate within an LLC, whereas C corporations are taxed at the corporate tax rate. Now, the downside to an LLC is that you don't get the self-employment tax benefits. So, if you make considerably less than the $102,000 limit, you may be better off with an S corp. If you are considering a Limited Liability Company it's important to check with your specific state for LLC specific taxes.

The above corporate structures come with their benefits and drawbacks. The important thing when selecting an appropriate corporate entity is to find out what's best for your individual business. We all have different businesses, with different business needs, what might be right for one business owner might be the wrong choice for another. So, make sure to do your homework, when choosing between a LLC, C corp, or S Corp, you and your business will be rewarded.
About the Author
If you'd like more information on incorporating your small business, you can visit the site for specific details. For more on choosing between an LLC, C Corp, or S Corp structure you can get more details on that as well.
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