What is an S Corporation

Explore the benefits and considerations of electing S corporation status for your business, focusing on tax advantages and eligibility criteria. Determine if an S Corp is the right choice for you with insights on structure and taxation.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What is an S Corp?

S companies are an appropriate option for many small companies because of their tax advantages. Profits from a business can transfer over to the owners’ personal tax returns under the S Corp tax categorization. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations can choose S corporation taxation.

However, there are several drawbacks as well, and not all companies can become an S corporation. Find out if it’s the ideal fit for you by reading on.

Business taxation versus business structure

Understanding the distinction between a company entity and its tax status is useful when considering the benefits of an S corp. You must file the necessary paperwork with the state to incorporate an LLC or a corporation before becoming a S corp.

A certain type of tax will be applied by default to your new company entity. Companies pay corporate tax and file a corporate tax return because they are taxable as C corporations. Distributions of profits to shareholders are subject to profit-based taxes. This phenomenon is occasionally referred to as “double taxation.”

LLCs are automatically subject to the same taxes as partnerships and sole proprietorships. Profits from the business are reported by owners on their personal tax returns as self-employment income.

However, by choosing S Corp taxation, an LLC or a corporation can alter how the business is classified for tax purposes.

S Corp: What is it?

S corporations do not have to pay corporate income tax, in contrast to C corporations. Rather, profits go straight to the individual tax returns of the owners. After that, the owners pay taxes on their portion of the profits. S corporations are able to avoid C corporations’ double taxation in this way.

For a business to qualify as a S Corp, it must:

  • Have no more than one hundred shareholders
  • Not have non-resident foreign stockholders
  • Not be owned by partnerships or companies
  • Possess a single class of stock

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must receive Form 2553 in order to elect S Corp taxation. The form must be submitted by the IRS deadline.

Benefits of S corporations for owners of LLCs

The owners of an LLC are regarded as self-employed when they file taxes as a partnership or sole proprietorship. Owners are required to pay their entire portion of the profits from the business in Medicare and Social Security taxes, also referred to as self-employment taxes. Selecting S Corp taxation instead of self-employment taxes could save you money if your company turns a profit.

S Corp owners who are employed by the company may do so by paying themselves a fair wage in exchange for their labor. They will pay Medicare and Social Security taxes on that income, just like any other employee, but they won’t be taxed on any further company gains.

Owner-employees are also eligible to take part in profit-sharing and 401K plans, among other business benefit programs. However, if an employee holds over 2 percent of the business, several benefits, such as life and health insurance, may become taxable.

The primary drawback of an S Corp for an LLC is the necessary documentation and costs. You’ll have to withhold taxes and operate payroll in addition to having to elect S Corp status with the IRS. You might also come under more IRS scrutiny on whether you’re giving yourself a reasonable and adequate salary.

Advantages of C Corp over S Corp taxes

Small business owners often favor S Corp taxation since their earnings aren’t taxable at both the shareholder and corporate levels, even though large enterprises are usually C corporations. However, certain businesses have tax disadvantages with S corporations.

A business may find C Corp taxation preferable if:

  • It is a startup looking to raise capital from outside sources. This structure is traditionally preferred by investors.
  • It intends to retain capital to support expansion in the future. S Corp owners pay tax on all corporate profits, but C Corp shareholders only pay tax on money that is delivered to them.
  • The conditions for S Corp taxation are not met.

Understanding the difference between an S Corp and C Corp is essential for choosing the right tax structure for your business.

The tax benefits of an S Corp are contingent upon a number of variables. These include your company’s size and profitability, its structure as a corporation or LLC, and your personal and professional objectives.

It is advisable to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of S corporations with a tax expert who can guide you through the decision-making process and help you arrive at the best solution for your business.

S corporations are a good option for many small enterprises because of their tax advantages. Profits from a business can transfer over to the owners’ personal tax returns under the S corporation tax categorization. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are free to consider S corporation taxation.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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