Using an LLC for Vehicle Ownership

Before a limited liability company (LLC) can claim ownership of a vehicle, the LLC must be formed according to the rules and regulations of the state where the LLC will be registered.

  • You must file Articles of Organization with the state to register the LLC. The articles lay out the operating structure of the LLC as well as the name of the company and the identity of its owners.
  • Once the articles are filed, the LLC is deemed to have a legal identity. Therefore, it can own property in much the same way as a corporation, individual, or other legal entity.
  • Ownership of the vehicle can be transferred between legal entities the same as ownership is transferred between individuals. The transfer usually involves a bill of sale or some other type of transfer document from the seller to the buyer. For example, from an individual to an LLC.
  • Once the transfer is completed, the LLC must apply for a new title with the department of motor vehicles for your state or county treasurer.
  • Since an LLC acts according to the actions of its members, a representative of the LLC or a member is responsible for signing title applications and other applicable documents on behalf of the limited liability company.
  • It is most likely the LLC will be required to buy vehicle insurance, which is required by state law.

LLCs and Luxury Car Ownership

There are pros and cons to starting a limited liability company. Two reasons people choose an LLC are its members have access to the same liability limits of a corporation and the "pass-through" taxation afforded to a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship. What is considered the most important benefit of forming an LLC for vehicle ownership is the limited liability in effect in the event of an injury or damage to property resulting from the use of your vehicle.

For example, if the parking brake fails and results in the vehicle rolling down a hill and striking another vehicle, as an individual owner, the accident could be financially devastating. If the vehicle is under the ownership of an LLC, any lawsuit would have the same limitations as legal action against a corporation, meaning your personal assets are protected as long as the LLC is properly formed and structured.

When owning a vehicle as a business asset, there are potential tax advantages. For example, if another LLC is selling a boat, it is more advantageous to buy the LLC itself and have the boat (or vehicle) included as a company asset. In this way, the buyer LLC is exempt from sales tax. The seller also benefits since the ceiling for the selling price can be set higher.

When tax season comes around and you're deducting expenses, such as repairs and upkeep of the vehicle, you should have thorough and detailed records readily available when filing business income and loss forms. Keep in mind that when setting up an LLC for ownership of items such as a golf cart or a fourth luxury sedan or SUV, when it's time to deduct operating expenses, you may find it difficult to justify those expenses. It is probably unwise to attempt to do so.

If you choose to form an LLC for the purpose of owning a luxury vehicle, it's imperative that the vehicle is insured in the name of the LLC and not a personal insurance policy. If not, you could find yourself unprotected from liability, uninsured, or both.

Things to Consider With an LLC Owned Vehicle

According to IRS publication 583, vehicle-related tax deductions based on actual expenses or a standard mileage rate are allowed by vehicle owners. Therefore, a business owner may deduct only those expenses or miles related to business purposes regardless of ownership.

Business owners who choose to sell their personal vehicles to their business to protect the vehicle during a personal bankruptcy must do so a year prior to filing. Business owners who transfer ownership of their vehicle to their LLC may notice an increase in insurance premiums, registration taxes, and other vehicle-related expenses.

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