Capital Accounts LLC

Capital accounts LLC are individual accounts of each person's investment in an LLC. These accounts track the contributions of the initial members to the LLC's capital, and adjustments are made for additional contributions.

Ways to increase the balance of a capital account include:

  • Initial investment

  • Additional contributions

  • Share of profits

Ways to decrease the capital account balance include:

  • Share of losses by members

  • Withdrawals for personal use

When an LLC is dissolved, capital accounts go back to the individual members after any liability payments of the LLC are made. This payment distribution to members is made in order of priority. Capital accounts are not the same as bank accounts. Members don't have to have a bank account separate from the LLC capital account.

How Do Capital Accounts Work?

A lot of business owners like LLCs because these types of businesses offer limited liability for the owners. Individual members in the LLC have capital accounts, and each person should have a full understanding of the account basics. A person's ownership is formed on the basis of the amount he or she contributes at the beginning. "Running totals" are kept on the ownership and investment of members.

Sometimes, adjustments are made to capital accounts, either up or down. These adjustments reflect business profits or business losses according to the ownership of each member as well as the operating agreement terms.

Creating a Capital Account

Your business can create this type of account with:

  • Accounting software

  • A spreadsheet

  • Another accounting system

The company's accountant or bookkeeper creates a capital account and maintains a log of each member's financial activities.

Capital Account Maintenance

The easiest way for a business to stay organized is to maintain capital accounts for individual members. Sometimes, you can renegotiate the operating agreement terms to make changes to how much ownership a member has in the LLC as well as the amount of allocations members are due.

Allocations

Each member's account can be affected by:

  • Discrepancies

  • Taxes

  • Changes in a company's capital structure

The company's governing document usually contains an agreement that each member adheres to when dealing with these changes. While members of the company can make arrangements, the operating agreement has to clearly lay out what the arrangement is.

Initial Balance in Capital Accounts

The initial investment of each member is his or her beginning balance. Each member owns a percentage relative to:

  • Cash contributions

  • Property

  • Profits

  • Gains

When profits or gains are recorded in company books, the amounts increase in capital accounts. How non-monetary contributions are valued depends on the terms in the operating agreement.

Contributions

If a member contributes property, other members should come to an agreement on the property's fair market value so that the contributor receives proper credit.

Capital contributions may also include:

  • Assumed liabilities

  • Services

The value of services doesn't count as a credit to an individual's capital account because their value may be taxable income to that member.

How Much Should Members Contribute to Capital Accounts?

The amount each member contributes should cover initial expenses of the LLC until the company's earnings are enough to cover the business's ongoing expenses. In the event more contributions are required, credits to members' capital accounts should reflect those additional contributions. If a company doesn't have adequate capital, the LLC could be disregarded, and members may be held personally liable for the company's debts and obligations. For LLCs with large risks or liabilities, larger capital contributions may be necessary.

Income/Loss or Distributions

Some companies are set up to calculate percentages of the individuals' capital accounts based on amounts of:

  • Income

  • Loss

  • Distributions

Normally, capital account percentages are kept separate from income/loss allocations and distributions based on terms in the company's operating agreement.

Keeping Track of Capital Accounts

Businesses are taxed like a partnership by the IRS. A capital account LLC can keep track of each member's investment in the company. The capital account is a way to measure what individuals receive if the company is sold.

The account represents:

  • Combined initial investments from members

  • Additional contributions to the business from members

  • Members' share of profits and losses

  • Money or distribution of property received from the company

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