Limited Liability Companies were, originally, meant to be a replacement for the standard partnership. In 1977, the IRS ruled that it would treat the very first LLC, a Wyoming-based oil company, as a partnership for tax purposes. That meant any money earned by the company would flow through it, directly to the members of the LLC. It wasn’t until 1988, however, that the IRS chose to recognize all LLCs as partnerships, rather than corporations. LLCs are thus, at the federal level, treated as partnerships, which complicates matters for Single Member LLCs. Single Member Limited Liability Companies thus face challenges unique to its business structure – challenges that anyone considering forming a SMLLC should know about and expect.
What are the differences between a Limited Liability Company and a Single Member LLC?
The main difference is right in the name. A single member LLC only has one member, or owner. Limited Liability Companies were primarily created to protect the interests of everyone involved in running the company. The assets and debts of the company were its own, and the assets and debts of each member was their own. If one member misbehaved and owed creditors money, the creditor could not seize control of the LLC – they could only collect on the proportional share being paid to that owner. Likewise, if the company went bankrupt, the personal assets of the members were safe. Single Member LLCs, on the other hand, are not partnerships and it has been up to the state courts to decide how much protection a single-member LLC should really provide.
A Limited Liability Partnership is a very interesting type of business structure. Limited Liability Companies already combine the ease of running a partnership with the protection of a corporation, and the IRS originally ruled that LLCs would be taxed as partnerships. So what is the difference between a Limited Liability Partnership and a Limited Liability Company? And which one would be the best structure for your company?
What is a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)?
We’ll answer the easiest question first. An LLP is very similar to an LLC – both protect the company’s owners from lawsuits and debtors, and both have a pass-through tax structure, meaning anything the company earns passes through it, directly to the owners, without being subject to any corporate income tax. However, a Limited Liability Partnership offers an extra bit of liability protection to each partner. So, just like in a Professional Corporation, the other partners in an LLP will not necessarily be liable for the consequences stemming from another partner’s actions.
Do all states recognize LLPs?
Yes, though the laws recognizing LLPs vary from state to state. The majority of the states have adopted the Revised Uniform Partnership Act, which includes a provision for LLPs stating ‘An obligation of a partnership incurred while the partnership is a limited liability partnership, whether arising in contract, tort, or otherwise, is solely the obligation of the partnership.’ In layman’s terms, that essentially means that the company, and not the individual partners, is responsible for any obligations stemming from contracts or torts. The states that haven’t adopted the RUPA instead opted for their own laws to recognize LLPs, but all follow the same basic pattern.
Corporate seals are a remnant of the middle ages, back when official documents were legitimized by a hot wax imprint of a seal or crest. The practice of ‘sealing’ documents kept on throughout the centuries, though the hot-wax method eventually gave way to rubber stamps and paper seals. Today, corporate law still allows for the use of corporate seals, though they are no longer as important as they once were. This week in business basics we answer a few of the most commonly questions we receive about corporate seals, and let you know if you should get one for your own corporation.
What is a corporate seal?
A corporate seal is essentially a signature for your business. When you incorporate, you turn your business into its own, legal entity. Since a corporation cannot sign anything, a corporate seal is used to mark legal and official documentation. These days, most corporate seals are either rubber stamps or steel embossers, and are normally designed to fall apart if tampered with to help avoid fraud.
Do I need a corporate seal?
Nevada was born from the discovery of a major silver mine, and its reputation as a state where you can make it rich, and quick, has been well-earned. Home to Las Vegas, Nevada is known for being a place to gamble, and tourism remains its number-one industry. Of course, there is so much more to the ‘Silver State’ than the Las Vegas Strip. Nevada is still home to some of the most active precious-metal mines, and is a major ranching state.
The State Seal of Nevada
Nevada also has a reputation as being a tax haven – the Tax Foundation ranked Nevada as having the third most-business friendly tax laws of all fifty states. Naturally, we receive plenty of questions on how to take advantage of that lax-tax law. If you are considering whether you should incorporate in Nevada, take the following into consideration:
- A few forms are all you need to form a limited liability company or incorporate in Nevada. To help expedite the process, Nevada’s Secretary of State has set up ‘The Silver Flume‘ – an online business portal that allows entrepreneurs to register their business and set up a new business entity. The filing fee for corporations can fluctuate from the minimum of $75 depending on how many shares the corporation will be authorized to issue.
We have written on non-profit corporations before, but as we only dedicated a sliver of a paragraph to how you actually form a non-profit, we felt the topic was worth revisiting. A non-profit corporation is a great way to fulfill a philanthropic pursuit, and if you are looking at dedicating your life to charity, then running a non-profit may be right up your alley. Forming a non-profit corporation is actually very similar to forming a regular corporation.
Step 1. Find a business name
Your non-profit is going to need a name just like with any other standard corporation. That name needs to be unique and, typically, has to include the a designator like ‘Corporation’ or ‘Incorporated,’ though not all states require that.
Step 2. File your Articles of Incorporation
After you’ve confirmed that your corporate name is available, you have to actually form the corporation by filing what is normally known as your Articles of Incorporation. The forms usually aren’t too complicated, and normally just ask for the names and addresses of the corporation, its registered agent, and its directors, as well as the corporation’s purpose for existing.
Missouri – the “Show-Me” state – is the subject of this week’s 50 states of incorporation, but first we want to show you why Missouri is such a great place to start a business. Missouri has long-been an important economic hub because America’s three great rivers – the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Ohio – all flow through the state. And though shipping has died down and Missouri is no longer the sole Gateway to the West, the state has shown an amazing propensity towards adaptation, and some of the most successful high-tech companies in the world call Missouri home.
Monsanto, one of the world’s biggest bio-technology companies, is based out of Missouri, as is Boeing Defense, Space & Security, a leading aerospace and defense-research firm. But the company that Missouri is most famous for has to be St. Louis’s Anheuser-Busch. It is, in fact, so loved that Busch’s St. Louis brewery was declared a national landmark in 1966.
Missouri knows how important small business is to the state, and the government offers loads of incentives and programs to help small businesses get started properly. Missouri lists many of the public resources that are available, and it is especially supportive of its agricultural industry; Missouri has 108,000 active farms, the second highest amount in the United States.
Corporate dissolution can be a touchy topic since dissolution is associated with a business going under, but there are lots of reasons for a business to shut down. For example, you wouldn’t want to keep paying fees and renewals for an LLC that was founded with a specific purpose, like building a housing tract, after that purpose is fulfilled. Nor would you expect an entrepreneur to balk at a particularly lucrative opportunity that would divert too much attention away from their original business. Whatever the reason, there may come a day when your corporation or limited liability company has to file their Articles of Dissolution and close down for good. If that day does come, you may find yourself wondering what else you have to do to finalize the dissolution. To help prepare our readers for any possible future, we decided to use a Business Basics post to outline what, exactly, has to be done during dissolution.
Vote on Dissolution
Most states require that the managing members (in the case of an LLC), or the board of directors (in the case of a corporation) votes, and agrees, on dissolution. If the corporation is publicly traded, the shareholders will also have to vote and agree on dissolution. If you cannot secure that vote, you will probably not be able to dissolve the business. Now, lawsuits can be filed to force dissolution, but these suits are rarely in the best interest of the directors, executives, or managing members. So when you start the dissolution process, make sure you can secure enough votes to get past this first hurdle.
Business Basics started out as a way to educate would-be and current entrepreneurs on the basics of running a business, and has slowly morphed into a place where we can try to tackle some of the most common questions we get about the ins-and-outs of business ownership. But, after looking through a few old posts, we were surprised we hadn’t delved into a very, very important part of running a business – protecting your intellectual property! To help rectify this, here is the first post in a series looking at IP protection. This week we are going to look at the trademark.
What, exactly, does a trademark do?
Studious readers of our MyCorp blog may recall that, back in June, we covered non-profit corporations in a ‘Business Basics’ post, and answered a few simple questions like what a non-profit corporation was and how to form one. This week, we felt it would be a good idea to tackle one of the most often asked questions about non-profits – how do you run a successful non-profit corporation? Now, it’s impossible to distill what makes a non-profit successful into a 700 word post, but we can point out a few things you can do to help your non-profit succeed.
Draft, and adhere to, a solid mission statement
When you form a non-profit corporation, you have to clearly identify your mission. What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this organization? Who do you hope to help? What type of a vision do you have? You may have a few fuzzy answers to these questions running through your head, but you have to absolutely solidify every idea and goal you have before you ever hope to begin raising money. If your ‘elevator pitch’ is a jumbled mess of ideals with no, clear, actionable goals, no one will want to donate to your non-profit. The IRS will also review your mission statement when they decide whether or not to grant your group tax-exempt status.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Business Basics posts on Canada. Last week we took a quick look at corporate law in Canada, and explored some of the major differences between American and Canadian corporate law. If you are thinking about incorporating up north, you should start there as it will give you a basic idea of what to expect in terms of regulations and rules.
This week we are going to shift gears a bit and answer a few of the most commonly asked question about incorporating in Canada.