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What’s The Difference Between LLC, C-Corp And S-Corp?

A recent LawTrades user asked: What is the difference between LLC and Inc. and which one should I get for my startup? My startup is a website.

What are the goals for your business? This is the largest factor to consider when deciding how to incorporate a business.

 A C-Corporation is a standard corporation while an S-Corporation has a special tax status assigned to it by the IRS. The term “S” corporation comes from its definition in Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code. Both types of corporations offer limited liability protection, have similar structures, corporate formalities, and they are both considered separate entities. However, despite their similarities, they have some pretty distinct differences. The biggest difference is how the corporations are each taxed.

C-Corporations are separate taxable entities, and are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation itself pays taxes, and any dividends paid to the shareholders is treated as personal income and thus subject to additional taxation at the individual level. Conversely, S-Corporations are pass-through entities, and as such are not subject to double taxation. They pay no corporate income tax (although they file form 1120S) and the profit and losses of the business are passed-through onto the stockholders and taxes are paid at the individual level.

See also: What’s the best business structure? 

Another difference between the two is the C-Corporations have no ownership restrictions, whereas S-Corporations do. S-Corporation restrictions include no more than 100 shareholders and they must be U.S. citizens or residents. They can also not be owned by other corporations, LLCs, or partnerships. Finally, S-Corporations can only have one class of stock while a C-Corporation can have multiple classes.

LLCs are great if you want that liability protection without all the formality and paperwork. It’s very easy and cheap to set up. There are also some publication requirements in most states. But if you’re looking to raise capital from professional investors this might not be the best structure. More on that here: Why can’t (or won’t) outside investors fund an LLC?

There are a few more differences but these are the primary ones that impact most people. Given the restrictions that come along with an S-Corporation, a C-Corporation offers a little bit more flexibility when starting a business. This especially holds true if you plan on growing the business or raising large amounts of money or want to have preferred shareholders.s

Have more questions? Feel free to visit LawTrades

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  • […] S-Corp, C-Corp, or as some other type of corporation (more on the various types of corporations here). You will also need to give careful thought as to where you incorporate your business because not […]
  • […] More on that structure and S Corps here.  […]
  • […] Having an attorney is essential when starting a new business. As an initial matter, an attorney will be able to help you incorporate your business, advising you on the most beneficial corporate structure for your specific needs. For example, an attorney will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of establishing your business as a limited liability company (LLC) versus establishing it as a limited liability partnership (LLP) or some other corporate entity. (See more on different types of entities here.) […]

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