If you’re in the process of turning your business idea into a legal business entity, forming an LLC is an attractive option. A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity that provides tax benefits and protects you from personal liability should anything happen to your business.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of forming an LLC?
As with all legal entities, there are pros and cons. Below is a concise look at the advantages and disadvantages of an LLC so you can determine whether this legal structure is right for your business.
What Are the Advantages of Having an LLC?
The greatest benefit of an LLC is the personal liability protection it provides. This means the owner of an LLC isn’t at risk of losing their personal possessions if the company goes bankrupt or gets sued. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not provide this protection. Corporations offer these same protections, but they’re typically not accessible for smaller businesses.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that this protection only applies as long as the LLC’s corporate veil isn’t violated. This happens if LLC members mix personal finances with the business or commit fraud.
Setting up an LLC is considerably easier than setting up a corporation. They’re less paperwork-intensive than C corporations. While many businesses are legally required to hold regular board meetings, keep meeting minutes, and submit various papers, LLCs can largely avoid these mandates.
There is key differences between a sole proprietorship and an LLC, with the latter providing a few benefits over the former. For one thing, some jurisdictions don’t need LLCs to have their members on the formation papers. Instead of listing all the members, you might choose to list a manager.
Registered agent services are also available to LLCs, allowing them to list the registered agent’s office as their mailing address on official paperwork. This might help safeguard your home address in the event you can’t use a P.O. box.
LLCs have the option of distributing profits however they choose, whereas corporations must distribute them according to a predetermined formula. The profits of an LLC are usually distributed proportionately based on each member’s ownership stake in the business, but other methods might be specified in the LLC’s operating agreement. It’s also worth mentioning that an LLC can own another LLC.
Finally, an LLC is often considered more reputable than a sole proprietorship or general partnership. This is true from the perspective of consumers and other businesses, such as banks and small business investors.
What Are the Disadvantages of Having an LLC?
There are certain disadvantages to forming an LLC that might not make it the ideal choice for everyone. Keep in mind that these drawbacks are contingent and may not apply in every situation.
For starters, large investors are more inclined to invest in corporations vs an LLC. If you think your business venture might require significant outside investments in the future, a corporation may be a better alternative.
LLCs also can’t retain any profits. Every year, an LLC’s earnings must be shared between its owners or reinvested back into the business. Because of this, the majority of LLCs often wait years before growing enough to justify creating a corporation.
The key distinction to keep in mind is that corporations are taxed on a company level, whereas individuals are taxed according to their personal tax rate. When a firm makes profits, it may save or reinvest them at the corporate level and pay taxes on them when they’re carried over to the next tax year.
While LLCs are significantly less expensive to establish and run than corporations, they’re still more costly than informal structures such as a sole proprietorship. But keep in mind: forming an LLC may be less costly than the long-term expense of not having limited liability protection.
Additionally, some states require LLCs to pay annual or semiannual charges or taxes in order to do business in the state. These taxes are common, and they may be a flat fee or calculated on company revenue or income. You may need an EIN for your LLC, too.
Another disadvantage is that LLCs don’t have shares like corporations do. This might make transferring ownership more difficult. For example, if an LLC has multiple members, every member must agree on any ownership changes.
Lastly, some types of businesses simply can’t form LLCs. Banks and insurance firms are prime examples. In certain jurisdictions, there are additional limitations placed on businesses such as law firms and medical practices and how they form LLCs. In some cases, professionals may want to consider the option of LLC vs. LLP.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Start an LLC?
There typically aren’t any legal requirements for starting an LLC. In most states, you form one by registering your business with the secretary of state and the IRS. That said, a business attorney or a service provider such as LegalShield can help you save time and money when creating an LLC.
A legal service can act as your company’s registered agent, for example. This is an individual that receives any legal correspondence, such as tax forms and other legal documents. In the case of lawsuits, a registered agent receives the necessary legal notifications.
Is an LLC Better for Taxes?
There are two distinct tax benefits of choosing an LLC structure.
The first is that you can avoid double taxation. The IRS considers LLCs pass-through entities, meaning you can report your profits and losses on your personal tax returns, like a sole proprietorship. With a C-corporation, on the other hand, you’re taxed twice: at the business level and on your individual taxes.
The other tax benefit that LLCs offer is the ability to choose how you’re taxed. You can opt for corporate taxation on your business. While this does mean you’ll be filing two tax returns, you also benefit from lower corporate tax rates, depending on your income.
Is an LLC Right for You?
So, what’s the best legal structure for your business? The answer to that question depends on a variety of factors, but it’s important to take the time to research all your options and find the right one for you. If you’re not sure where to start or need help getting going, LegalShield can help. Our platform can help you figure out which legal structure is best for your small business and provide you with the resources and support you need to get up and running. Start an LLC online today!
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