Choosing A Business Structure

The answer to the question “What structure makes the most sense?” depends on the individual circumstances of each California business owner.

The IRS provides a handy fact sheet giving business men and women in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County a quick look at the differences between the most common forms of business entities.

The most common forms of businesses are:

Sole Proprietorships
Partnerships
Corporations
Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Of all the choices you make when starting a California-based business, one of the most important is the type of legal organization you select for your company. This decision can affect how much you pay in taxes, the amount of paperwork your business is required to do, the personal liability you face and your ability to borrow money. Business formation is controlled by the law of the state where your business is organized.

While state law controls the formation of your business, federal tax law controls how your business is taxed. Federal tax law recognizes an additional business form, the Subchapter S Corporation.

All businesses must file an annual return. The form you use depends on how your business is organized. Sole proprietorships and corporations file an income tax return. Partnerships and S Corporations file an information return. For an LLC with at least two members, except for some businesses that are automatically classified as a corporation, it can choose to be classified for tax purposes as either a corporation or a partnership. A business with a single member can choose to be classified as either a corporation or disregarded as an entity separate from its owner, that is, a “disregarded entity.” As a disregarded entity the LLC will not file a separate return instead all the income or loss is reported by the single member/owner on its annual return.

The type of business entity you choose will depend on:

Liability
Taxation
Recordkeeping

For more on the IRS fact sheet, click here.

To discuss this with a business attorney, call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259.