What Is a Single-Member LLC?

A single-member LLC is first formed as a regular LLC after filing articles of incorporation. It then gets the status of a single-member LLC because of having only one member.

For an entrepreneur looking to retain full control yet more protection than a sole-proprietorship business, a single-member LLC offers a middle path between a partnership firm and a corporation. It's a perfect structure for owning a rental property and operating home-based businesses.

Single-Member LLC and Personal Liability Protection

A single-member LLC is simple, less costly, and easier to manage. However, it comes with some modifications in personal liability protection.

A regular multimember LLC gives you a charging order protection, meaning your personal creditors cannot force to settle their claims from other partners' interests in the LLC; they can only claim your share of profits in the LLC. But when you become a single-member LLC, your business becomes a disregarded entity in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Thus, a single-member LLC becomes much like a sole proprietorship business, and you are required to file your business taxes by attaching Schedule C to your individual tax returns.

As the owner of a single-member LLC, you are personally liable for your business liabilities. Usually, LLCs are not responsible for personal obligations of the owners. However, as a disregarded entity, a single-member LLC is more likely to be held accountable for the personal liabilities of the owner.

You may want to set up a manager-managed LLC, wherein you remain the ultimate decision-maker, while your partner has a limited exposure to business operations. Both of you get to have personal liability protection. Nevertheless, the tax structure can be very costly for most types of businesses, except for a rental property business.

Single-Member LLC Tax Benefits

The most obvious but lesser-known benefit of operating as a single-member LLC is that it lets you deduct the expenses that might not be tax deductible otherwise. Many single-member LLC owners who work from home write off their personal expenses for their vehicle, mobile phone, or internet services as business expenses. Even the expenses incurred for kids, friends, and relatives can become tax deductible when they pitch in for business activities such as trade shows and exhibitions.

If your LLC has an operating loss, you may not be able to deduct the whole amount, since it may be limited by the at-risk rule. A single-member LLC owner is liable to pay tax on self-employment earnings just like a sole proprietor.

Single-Member LLC Tax Write-Offs

Just like any other business structure, an LLC can also deduct expenses connected with the business. These expenses can vary, depending on the type of business operations an LLC is engaged in. Irrespective of the business structure, business owners should be aware of the deductibility rules applicable to different types of expenses.

As a general rule, a business can deduct business expenses if they are ordinary and necessary. According to the IRS, an ordinary expense refers to one that is common in your trade or industry. In order to be deductible, the ordinary expense must also satisfy the criterion of being necessary. A necessary expense refers to one that is justified and helpful for your business. It need not be absolutely indispensable to be considered as a necessary expense.

You can deduct most of the business expenses as you incur them. However, certain expenses, such as those incurred for purchase of business equipment, buildings, vehicles, etc., whose useful life spreads over a period of several years, must be capitalized. You can recover the cost through depreciation over the life of the purchased item.

If your business involves sale or production, you must maintain proper records of inventories. You must capitalize the inventory costs and deduct them as costs of goods sold.

Single-Member LLC: Personal Property Write-Offs

  • For property purchases, you can deduct up to $100,000 in a financial year.
  • The deduction does not include real estate, intangible property (i.e., trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc.), and certain other assets.
  • The deduction, however, includes equipment, computers, office furnishings, and standard computer software bought as a product.
  • If your total purchases of deductible property exceed $108,000 in a given year, you must depreciate the excess amount over the useful life of the property.

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