1. Taxes on Delaware Businesses
2. Understanding Which Taxes Apply to Your Delaware LLC
3. How to Calculate Corporate Income Taxes
4. Why is Delaware a Tax Shelter?

Updated June 30, 2020:

The Delaware LLC tax rate is typically lower than the rate paid by corporations. Delaware requires most LLCs formed in the state to pay an annual tax of $300 but beyond that, profits are taxed differently.

Taxes on Delaware Businesses

Tax rates for businesses vary among states. Like most states, Delaware taxes some types of income earned by businesses. The method for determining which taxes apply and the amount depends on the type of business entity you operate and the filing status you choose.

Corporations must pay taxes at a corporate income rate, while standard LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships are pass-through entities. This means the owners instead of the business itself are taxed at the state and federal level.

Delaware business taxes can include a franchise tax, a corporate income tax, and other annual taxes and fees. If you own a traditional LLC, you will pay personal taxes on your business' profits in addition to the $300 annual LLC tax.

Corporate rates are often flat, meaning the rate remains the same no matter how much income the business generates. Flat corporate rates usually range between 4 to 9 percent. Personal rates, which apply to owners of LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships, range between 0 to 9 percent.

Understanding Which Taxes Apply to Your Delaware LLC

Fortunately for LLC owners, the annual tax is straightforward. Every Delaware LLC, limited partnership, and general partnership must pay $300 per year, due annually by June 1. Calling this annual tax a "franchise tax" does not mean that your company is an actual franchise business.

LLCs may choose to be treated as an S corporation for tax purposes. While this may have benefits in other respects, an LLC that elects corporation status must also pay Delaware's corporate income tax.

To claim S corporation tax status for your LLC, you first have to file a special form with the IRS. An S corporation is not subject to federal taxes, the way a traditional C corporation would be.

Instead, the taxable income generated by an S corporation is passed to individual shareholders. Shareholders must pay federal taxes on their shares when they file their personal taxes.

How to Calculate Corporate Income Taxes

Corporations and LLCs filing as S corporations must calculate the amount of tax they owe using one of two methods: authorized shares method or assumed par value capital method.

Authorized Shares Method

Corporations pay a fee that varies depending on the number of authorized shares:
⦁$175 fee for 5,000 shares or less
⦁$250 fee for 5,001 to 10,000 shares
⦁$85 base fee for each additional 10,000 shares or fraction beyond the first 10,000

Assumed Capital Value Method

Businesses pay a fee that varies depending on the amount of assumed no-par capital. This is in addition to a fee for assumed par value capital. The Delaware Division of Corporations explains how to calculate taxes using this method.

Why is Delaware a Tax Shelter?

In addition to offering lower taxes compared to other states, Delaware is considered a tax shelter. The definition of a tax shelter is any method used to reduce the amount of income that is taxable. Making smart use of tax shelters means you pay less taxes and maximize your LLC's profits. 

To be considered a tax shelter, the method must typically save one dollar for every dollar spent within a period of four years. An individual, corporation, or LLC can participate in tax sheltering methods. Here are a few reasons Delaware is attractive for tax savings:

  • Delaware has no sales tax. Regardless of the business' physical location, if it was registered in the state of Delaware, sales tax does not apply to any purchase made in Delaware.
  • Delaware corporations that operate outside of the state do not pay state corporate income tax on services and goods.
  • Delaware corporations do not pay taxes to the state on investments involving fixed income or equity.
  • There is no personal property tax collected in Delaware, except in some counties — but even this is very low.
  • Companies and business owners in Delaware can avoid paying other taxes common in other states including value-added tax, business transaction tax, and inventory tax.
  • Delaware does not charge inheritance tax, or tax on transfers of stock.
  • Delaware offers privacy by allowing business owners to shield their identity from public records. Most other states do not allow this type of freedom.

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