Gray & Harasym, LLP | San Luis Obispo CA CPA

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LLC vs. S Corp: Which is Best for Tax Purposes


If you’re confused by the difference between LLCs and S Corps, this article is for you! Here, we clarify the difference and provide guidance on which option is best for you.

Before we get to the best qualification for your small business regarding tax filing, let’s define an LLC and an S Corp so that we know what each designation means.

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a limited liability company. It is a legal designation. The owner is protected from personal liability regarding business activities in this business structure. Owners are considered “members” of the LLC and are self-employed. An LLC can have one or more owners who can actively participate in a business organization or be hands-off. Further, an unlimited number of owners can reside anywhere in the world.

What is an S Corp?

An S Corp is a tax classification. It is desirable because it protects business owners from double taxation. Like an LLC, owners can be hands-off; owners of an S Corp may also take a salary as an employee. There is a limit to the number of owners of an S Corp – there can be no more than 100 owners, and all must be United States citizens.

How are LLCs and S Corps taxed?

LLCs are taxed like sole proprietorships or partnerships (if there are multiple members in the LLC). Because an S Corp is a tax classification, an LLC, as a business entity, can attain S Corp status by meeting specific qualifications.

For LLCs, not S Corps, the owner(s) must pay a 15.3 percent self-employment tax on all net profits. The owner can take a salary for S Corps to avoid the self-employment tax.

How do I know which is best for my business?

To help you determine whether your business should remain an LLC or further classify as an S Corp, consider the following:

  • How many owners are there in your business?
  • Where do you do business (U.S. only or overseas as well)?
  • Who else has a stake in your company (i.e., a partnership or a corporation)?
  • Do you plan to scale your business?
  • How important is personal liability protection to you?
  • How hands-on do you wish to be in terms of business upkeep?

Answering these questions will help guide you on the best option for your business’ tax filing status. To determine what is best for you financially now and over time, speak to a qualified tax accountant or CPA. They will be up to date on the most recent tax laws, so they can better guide you.