Incorporation is one of our specialties, and many of our clients come to us because they want to incorporate their business. After all, incorporation helps protect you in the event of a lawsuit, and forming a separate business entity helps separate the company’s debts from your private assets. However, our customers also often ask us about a real caveat to incorporation – double taxation. After you incorporate, your business has to pay a tax on any income that it earns, subject to the federal and state corporate income tax rates. On top of that, you still have to pay tax on income you earn from working for the corporation. Effectively, this taxes the same amount of income twice, and that heavy burden frightens many small business owners, most of whom don’t have much extra capital to throw around. There is, happily, a way to avoid double taxation, and it is the subject of our Business Basics post for this week – filing for S-Corporation status.
Chapter 1, Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code allows smaller businesses to avoid paying federal, and usually state, corporate income tax. S-Corporations are the most popular type of corporation in the United States, with 61.9% of all active corporations filing Form 1120S to apply for S-Corp status.
In order to qualify, your corporation must have fewer than 100 shareholders and issue only one class of stock. If your corporation qualifies, you can file for S-Corp status, which will allow any income earned by the corporation to pass through the business, untaxed, directly to the shareholders. You, of course, still have to pay your personal income taxes, and by law must take a reasonable compensation as a wage. But your corporate income, in most cases, will stay untouched.