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Forming an LLC is a smart way to save money in taxes and reduce personal risk without adding a lot of extra paperwork and corporate formalities. Even if you’re the only employee of your business, it can still be an advantage for you by converting your sole proprietor (dba) or Partnership to an LLC.
If you currently operate a small business by yourself and report your income on a Schedule C, then you are a sole proprietor (dba). If you are a currently in business with one or more partners, then you are automatically part of a general partnership. A large number of the newer small businesses are either sole proprietorship (dba) or general partnerships. Both types of businesses are easy to maintain and cost very little to set up. However a number of other factors can make these the most expensive business structures over the long haul. First, as a sole proprietor (dba) you put your personal assets at risk for liability if the business is sued. Secondly, you miss out on significant tax saving and enjoy fewer options for growing your business. Sole proprietorships (dba) are also much more likely to come under scrutiny by the IRS. Finally, you’ll find that the trying to sell or hand down the business is a complicated, time consuming process.
The Limited Liability Company, or LLC, is a relatively new type of business structure that combines the best features of the corporation with those of the sole proprietorship (dba) or partnership.
The primary advantage of an LLC is that it affords its members the personal liability protection of a corporation, but without all of the corporate formalities. LLCs also have the flexibility to be taxed as a corporation or as a “pass-through entity,” similar to a sole proprietorship (dba) or general partnership.
Advantages of an LLC :
As a sole proprietor, you and your business are legally inseparable. In other words, your company’s debts are legally your debts. And a lawsuit brought against your business is also a lawsuit brought against you.
In a general partnership, the risk is even greater. This is because each partner can independently make decisions that impact the partnership as a whole. If one partner makes a bad decision, both partners are on the hook for the entire amount of any damages.
An LLC is viewed as a legally separate entity. If your business hits hard times, you are not personally held responsible for any debts or court judgments.
If your business goes under, you won’t have to carry your business debts over to your next venture.
Whatever your line of business, protecting yourself against personal liability can help you avoid a potentially disastrous situation.
NOTE: While LLCs can protect you from personal liability, this protection is not absolute. You and other LLC members may be liable for the debts of an LLC if:
You personally guarantee a debt.
You intermingle personal funds with LLC funds.
Your LLC has minimal capitalization or minimal insurance.
Your LLC fails to pay state taxes or otherwise violates state law
Operating and Maintaining an LLC
An LLC is much easier to maintain than a corporation, some regular record keeping and government filing is required to keep your LLC in good standing with the state.
Operating and Maintaining an LLC
Because an LLC is a separate legal entity, all LLC finances and transactions must be kept separate from the personal finances of LLC members. Therefore, it is essential that you establish a separate bank account for your LLC and pay all expenses, as well as profit payouts, from this account. In addition, written records should be kept of all major LLC decisions. If you have employees, you must also obtain a separate Federal Employer Identification Number.
After the initial government filings, most states require an LLC to file a short annual report form with the same state office where the Articles of Organization were filed. These forms typically require basic information, such as names and addresses of current LLC members and/or managers. They might also request the name and address of the LLC’s registered agent and the office for service of process. In most states, a filing fee is required with the annual report.
Income tax filings will vary depending on whether you choose pass-through tax treatment or you make a special election to receive corporate tax treatment.
LLCs with Pass-through Tax Treatment
If you are the only member of your LLC, the LLC will not have to file any forms. Instead, you’ll report all your income or losses on your personal IRS 1040 form and attach a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from a Business. You will also need to file a Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax Return.
If your LLC has multiple members, you and your co-members will report your individual incomes from the LLC on your individual tax returns. In turn, the LLC is required to file an informational return using IRS Form 1065. Attached to this form should be a Schedule K, which is used to report the profits, losses, credits and deductions allocated to the members of the LLC. In addition, the LLC must file a Schedule K-1 for each member and report that member’s share of the profits and losses.
LLCs with Corporate Tax Treatment
Your LLC can elect corporate tax treatment by filing IRS Form 8832. Once filed, the IRS will treat your LLC as a separate tax entity. The LLC will then have to file a corporate tax return, IRS Form 1120, Corporate Income Tax Return, and estimate and pay its own taxes at the appropriate corporate tax rate.
We at DBology can help you quickly and easily form a new LLC or Transition an existing business. You can set up your LLC from the home or office for as little as $75 plus state fees.