What Is S Corporation Personal Liability?

S corporation personal liability is extended to business owners who request S tax classification from the IRS. You may switch from general partnerships or sole proprietorship to an S corp election because doing so can make a difference when it comes to taxation and asset protections.

Why an S Corp?

An S corp is one of the most popular choices among business owners. You may also choose an LLC or C corp. The right choice boils down to the short and long-term goals of the business owner. The good thing is that owners can choose the type of taxation that suits them most, and S corps offer a variety of tax flexibilities that other business entities do not offer.

Further, owners assume an S corp requires extensive costs and time, but such sentiments are not true. The fact is that an S corp is a corporation that’s designated as a pass-through tax entity for federal tax reasons. The pass-through tax method allows losses and profits to pass from the business to individual shareholders to file on their personal tax returns. S corps also do not pay business income taxes, and shareholders would only pay taxes upon filing their tax returns. In essence, an S corp is nothing more than an S designation from the IRS.

S Corp Traits

An S corp retains all of the main characters of a C corp. The C corp is created with the articles of incorporation that’s filed with the secretary of state of the state where the corporation will conduct business, and the S corp status would be added later. In addition, S corps dispense stock and follows the same management structure of a C corp. Like C corps, S corps adhere to the same managerial systems, such as:

  • Officers
  • Shareholders
  • Directors

The shareholders get the same protections as a C corp. For example, S corp shareholder assets are safeguarded from liability of the business, preventing courts and creditors from seizing personal property, such as houses or cars.

When it comes to other characteristics of an S corp, income characterization is one of the most important factors. Shareholders who perform certain duties for the business can also classify themselves as employees and take a salary in the same way as other employees, and the shareholder may receive dividends and other tax-free distributions. A shareholder working as an employee can also be designated as an employee to save on self-employment taxes.

Transfer Flexibility

Owners may transfer shares without tax ramifications. This is not the case with LLCs or partnerships, where over 50 percent ownership transfers could dissolve the business. Moreover, the S corp does not have to adjust a property basis or adhere to complex accounting measures upon ownership transfer.

With that, shareholders who work as employees must be paid a reasonable salary, and the salary is open to Medicare and Social Security taxation. The employee would pay half of the taxes, while the business pays the remaining portion. Therefore, the savings from not paying self-employment taxes on profits only take effect when the S corp earns enough to pay a person a satisfactory salary.

S corps do not have to adhere to the accrual accounting method, which is a complex accounting method that corporations must use. With that, the accrual method must be used if your business is designated as a small corporation (has gross receipts amounting to $5 million or less). However, S corps do not have to use the accrual accounting method, but only if inventory is not involved.

S Corp Credibility

S corps come with a degree of credibility that other entities do not have. The following types of people tend to view S corps more favorably:

  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Partners
  • Employees

The public views S corps with distinction because it shows that owners are serious about their business aspirations.

S corps are great for businesses in the following areas:

  • Businesses that provide services (ex. Consultants)
  • Businesses that do not need large start-up costs
  • Businesses that do not need to buy major equipment to start operations
  • Businesses that do not need large funds or efforts to operate

To find out more about S corporation personal liability, submit your legal inquiry to our UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel attorneys will give you sound guidance on the benefits and drawbacks of creating an S corp, and if an S corp is the right move for your business. Also, they will guide you regarding maintenance steps to keep your S corp in good-standing, while helping you through all operating procedures to keep your business organized.