Types of Corporations
Anyone who operates a business,
alone or with others, may incorporate. This is also true for anyone or any group engaged
in religious, civil, non-profit or charitable endeavors. You do not have to be a business
giant to be able to have the financial and other benefits of operating a corporation.
Given the right circumstances, the owner(s) of a business of any size can benefit from
Types of Corporations:
S Corporation Restrictions
Before deciding which type of corporation best suits your business needs, we recommend
that you consult with your legal or financial advisors. The Company Corporation. does not
offer legal or tax advice, but will help you form your new corporation or LLC in any state
... quickly, efficiently and inexpensively!
Simply fill out the easy-to-complete order form at the end of this guide to order your
corporation now. Please feel free to e-maill us with your questions here.
This is the most common corporate structure. The corporation is a separate legal entity
that is owned by stockholders. A general corporation may have an unlimited number of
stockholders that, due to the separate legal nature of the corporation, are protected from
the creditors of the business. A stockholder's personal liability is usually limited to
the amount of investment in the corporation and no more.
Owners' personal assets are protected from business debt and liability
Corporations have unlimited life extending beyond the illness or death of the owners.
Tax free benefits such as insurance, travel, and retirement plan deductions
Transfer of ownership facilitated by sale of stock.
Change of ownership need not affect management.
Easier to raise capital through sale of stocks and bonds.
More expensive to form than proprietorship or partnerships.
More legal formality.
More state and federal rules and regulations.
There are a few minor, but significant, differences between general corporations and close
corporations. In most states where they are recognized, close corporations are
limited to 30 to 50 stockholders. In addition, many close corporation statutes require
that the directors of a close corporation must first offer the shares to
existingstockholders before selling to new shareholders.
This type of corporation is particularly well suited for a group of individuals who will
own the corporation with some members actively involved in the management andother members
only involvedon a limited or indirect level.
With the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the S Corporation became a highly desirable entity for
corporate tax purposes. An S Corporation is not really a different type of corporation. It
is a special tax designation applied for and granted by the IRS to corporations that have
already been formed. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners are partial to the S
Corporation because it combines many of the advantages of a sole proprietorship,
partnership and the corporate forms of business structure.
S Corporations have the same basic advantages and disadvantages of general or close
corporation with the added benefit of the S Corporation special tax provisions. When a
standard corporation (general, close or professional) makes a profit, it pays a federal
corporate income tax on the profit. If the company declares a dividend, the shareholders
must report the dividend as personal income and pay more taxes.
S Corporations avoid this "double taxation" (once at the
corporate level and again at the personal level) because all income or loss is reported
only once on the personal tax returns of the shareholders. However, like standard
corporations (and unlike some partnerships), the S Corporation shareholders are exempt
from personal liability for business debt.
To elect S Corporation status, your corporation must
meet specific guidelines. As a result of the 1996 Tax Law, which became effective January
1, 1997, many of these qualifying guidelines have been changed. A few of these changes are
- Prior to the 1996 Tax Law, the
maximum number of shareholders was 35. The maximum number of shareholders for an S
Corporation has been increased to 75.
- Previously, S Corporation ownership
was limited to individuals, estates, and certain trusts. Under the new law, stock of an S
Corporation may be held by a new "electing small business trust." All
beneficiaries of the trust must be individuals or estates, except that charitable
organizations may hold limited interests. Interests in the trust must be acquired by gift
or bequest -- not by purchase. Each potential current beneficiary of the trust is counted
towards the 75 shareholder limit on S Corporation shareholders.
- S Corporations are now allowed to
own 80 percent or more of the stock of a regular C corporation, which may elect to file a
consolidated return with other affiliated regular C corporations. The S Corporation itself
may not join in that election. In addition, an S Corporation is now allowed to own a
"qualified subchapter S subsidiary." The parent S Corporation must own 100
percent of the stock of the subsidiary.
- Qualified retirement plans or
Section 501(c)(3) charitable organizations may now be shareholders in S Corporations.
- All S Corporations must have
shareholders who are citizens or residents of the United States. Nonresident aliens cannot
- S Corporations may only issue one
class of stock.
- No more than 25 percent of the gross
corporate income may be derived from passive income.
- An S Corporation can generally
provide employee benefits and deferred compensation plans.
- S Corporations eliminate the
problems faced by standard corporations whose
shareholder-employees might be subject to IRS claims of excessive compensation.
Not all domestic general business corporations are eligible for S Corporation status.
These exclusions include:
A financial institution that is a bank;
An insurance company taxed under Subchapter L;
A Domestic International Sales corporation (DISC); or
Certain affiliated groups of corporations.
Keep in mind, these
lists of qualifying S Corporation aspects are not all-inclusive. In addition, there are
specific circumstances in which an S Corporation may owe income tax. For more detailed
information about these changes and other aspects regarding S Corporation status, contact
your accountant, attorney or local IRS office.
How to File as an S Corporation
To become an S Corporation, you must know the mechanics of filing for this special tax
status. Your first step is to form a general, close or professional corporation in
the state of your choice. Second, you must obtain the formal consent of the
corporation's shareholders. This consent should be noted in the corporation's minutes.
Once the filing is approved, your company must complete Form 2553, Election by a Small
Business Corporation. This form must be filed with the appropriate IRS office for your
region. Please consult the IRS' instructions for Form 2553 to determine your proper
deadline for completing and submitting this form.
New Magnolia, Incorporation can assist you in preparing and submitting the IRS Form 2553
as part of your incorporating process. Please see our online order form for additional
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
LLCs have long been a traditional form of business structure in Europe and Latin America.
LLCs were first introduced in the United States by the state of Wyoming in 1977 and
authorized for pass-through taxation (similar to partnerships and S Corporations) by the
IRS in 1988. With the recent inclusion of Hawaii, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. have
now adopted some form of LLC legislation for both domestic and foreign (out of state)
limited liability companies.
Many business professionals believe LLCs present a superior alternative to corporations
and partnerships because LLCs combine many of the advantages of both. With an LLC, the
owners can have the corporate liability protection for their personal assets from business
debt as well as the tax advantages of partnerships or S Corporations. It is similar to an
S Corporation without the IRS' restrictions.
Protection of personal assets from business debt
Profits/losses pass through to personal income tax returns of the owners
Great flexibility in management and organization of the business
LLCs do not have the ownership restrictions of S Corporations making them ideal business
structures for foreign investors
LLCs often have a limited life (not to exceed 30 years in many states)
Some states require at least 2 members to form an LLC, and
LLCs are not corporations and therefore do not have stock -- and the benefits of stock
ownership and sales.
As with the S Corporation listing, these lists are not inclusive. For more detailed
information, please be sure to speak with a qualified legal and/or financial advisor.
Important Note Regarding the Federal Taxation of LLCs:
Before January 1, 1997, the Internal Revenue Service determined whether a limited
liability company would be taxed "like a partnership" or "like a
corporation" by analyzing its legal structure or by requiring the members to elect
the tax status on a special form. Effective January 1, 1997, the IRS has simplified this
Pursuant to these new IRS regulations, if a limited liability company has satisfied IRS
requirements, it can be treated as a partnership for federal tax purposes. As such, LLCs
are required to file the same federal tax forms as partnerships and take advantage of the
same benefits. However, this is still a highly technical area, and if you require further
information, it is recommended that you communicate with the Internal Revenue Service or
consult a competent professional such as a qualified tax accountant or attorney.