LLC vs CORPORATION: The Pros and Cons

LLC Corporation, llc corporation pros and cons, llc corporation tax
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When starting a business, choosing the right business structure is crucial. The two most common business structures is an LLC and a corporation. An LLC combines the liability protection of a corporation with the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship, providing personal liability protection for its owners. On the other hand, a corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, offering limited liability protection. In this article, we will compare the LLC and Corporation business structures, discussing their pros and cons, formation process, requirements and their tax options.

LLC vs Corporation: Definition

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a type of business structure that provides personal liability protection for its owners. It combines the characteristics of a corporation, which protects owners from personal responsibility for the company’s debts or liabilities, with the features of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Small and medium-sized businesses frequently use LLCs because of their flexibility and liability protection. 

On the other hand, a corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. A group of shareholders creates it with a common goal and share ownership represented by their holding of stock shares. Corporations possess many of the same legal rights and responsibilities as individuals. They can enter into contracts, borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets, and pay taxes.

LLC vs Corporation: Pros and Cons

An LLC and a corporation have pros and cons, and before you decide which structure you should adopt for your company, understand the pros and cons of each structure. 

The Pros of Forming an LLC 

An LLC, or limited liability company, offers several advantages, making it a popular choice for business owners. Here are some of the pros of forming an LLC:

  • Limited Liability Protection: One of the primary benefits of an LLC is that it provides limited liability protection for its owners. This separation between personal and business liabilities can be crucial for protecting personal assets such as homes, cars, and savings.
  • Pass-Through Taxation: An LLC offers tax flexibility as a pass-through entity, allowing profits and losses to pass through to individual members, simplifying tax filing, and potentially resulting in tax savings.
  • Flexible Management Structure: LLCs offer flexibility in management structure, with owner-managed or manager-managed options. Members can choose their involvement level and bring experienced managers if needed. The structure can be specified in the operating agreement.
  • Limited Ownership: LLCs have a 100-owner limit, benefiting smaller businesses with better control and decision-making but limiting more prominent investors seeking additional capital.
  • Cost of Formation: Forming an LLC involves filing and legal fees, which vary by state and complexity, but is generally less expensive than corporations. Consider formation costs when choosing the proper business structure.
  • Personal Asset Protection: An LLC protects members’ assets, shielding them from creditors and lawsuits in case of financial difficulties or legal action. However, members must follow legal and operational requirements to maintain this protection, ensuring separate personal and business finances.

The Cons of Forming an LLC 

The disadvantages of an LLC include:

  • Cost: Setting up an LLC can be more expensive than other business structures. The process and associated fees can vary from state to state, and annual reports and fees may need to be paid.
  • Transfer of Ownership: Transferring ownership in an LLC is not as easy as transferring corporate stock. Some states require an LLC to be dissolved when there is a change in ownership.
  • Personal Liability: While an LLC provides limited liability protection, there are situations where a judge can rule that the LLC structure does not protect personal assets. However, that happens if there is a failure to separate business transactions from personal transactions or the business is run fraudulently.
  • Administrative Requirements: LLCs have administrative requirements, including creating agreements, taxes, and fees, requiring additional state-specific regulations.
  • Tax Complexity: LLC tax structure is complex, with some states charging additional taxes, self-employment taxes for members, and limitations on benefits for non-members.
  • Filing Fees: Establishing an LLC can involve substantial filing fees, including the cost of publishing a letter of intent in the local newspaper.
  • Lack of Standard Operating Procedures: While LLCs offer flexibility in management structure, this can be a disadvantage if there is a lack of standard operating procedures, resulting in poor management.
  • Banking Fees: Banks may charge higher fees for LLCs than sole proprietorships, and checks written to an LLC must be deposited into a business account.
  • Record-Keeping: LLC owners must keep careful records and meeting minutes to maintain personal and business assets separately.

The Pros of Forming a Corporation

Forming a corporation offers several pros, including:

  • Limited Liability: Once you’ve filed for incorporation, you have limited liability for the business’s debts and activities. Legally, the corporation is separate from you. Meaning that creditors cannot go after your personal assets to pay off business debts.
  • Attracting Investors: A corporation allows you to issue stock, which is a selling point when attracting investors. Hence, you can raise additional funds by selling shares.
  • Stock and Stock Options for Employees: Offering stock options allows you to attract top-notch talent. Thus, a powerful incentive for employees to join and stay with your company.
  • Organization: Corporations have an established power structure from top to bottom, including directors, officers, and shareholders. Each group has defined roles and responsibilities, providing clarity and structure within your business.
  • Right to Due Process and Equal Protection: Corporations have the right to due process and equal protection in any legal proceedings, as outlined in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
  • Freedom of Speech: Unless forbidden by the state government, a corporation has the right to free speech, just as a citizen would. This allows corporations to express their opinions and engage in political activities.
  • Credibility: Incorporating your business can help establish credibility with potential customers, employees, vendors, and partners. A business with “Inc.” or “LLC” after its name often sounds more credible to outsiders.
  • Unlimited Life: A corporation’s life is not dependent on its owners. Even if an owner leaves, dies, or sells the company, the corporation will continue to exist and do business.
  • Transferability of Ownership: Ownership in a corporation is typically easily transferable, allowing for the smooth transfer of ownership interests.
  • Retirement Plans: Retirement funds and qualified retirement plans, such as a 401(k), may be established more quickly for a corporation.

The Cons of Forming a Corporation

Forming a corporation comes with several cons. They include the following:

  • More paperwork: As a corporation, you must file various documents and paperwork regularly, such as Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, corporate minutes, and certificates of good standing.
  • More taxes to file: Corporations must file separate tax forms, and personal tax credits cannot be claimed on the corporate tax form. Additionally, business losses can only be applied to the business and cannot help with personal taxes.
  • Double taxation (for C corporations): C corporations are subject to double taxation. The corporation pays taxes on its profits at the corporate level, and when dividends are paid to shareholders, they are treated as income and taxed again at the individual level.
  • Higher fees and regulations: Forming a corporation often involves higher fees than other business structures. Attorneys may charge more for forming a corporation, and states may have higher annual franchise fees for corporations. Additionally, more state and federal corporate regulations and oversight exist, resulting in more complicated tax filings and obligations.
  • Loss of control: When forming a corporation, a board of directors shares control of the business rather than leaving it solely in the hands of an individual owner. Hence, resulting in a loss of control for the founder or owner of the business.
  • Strict rules and formalities: Corporations must follow strict rules and formalities, such as appointing a board of directors, holding annual meetings, and following the correct rules for selling stock. Failure to comply with these rules can result in the loss of good standing and potential legal consequences. 

LLC vs Corporation: Formation Process and Requirements

LLCs and corporations have different formation processes and requirements for each process.

LLC Formation Process

Forming an LLC, or Limited Liability Company, involves several key steps. Although the exact process may vary slightly from state to state, the general procedure is essentially the same across all states. Here are the steps to form an LLC:

Choose an LLC Name

The first step in forming an LLC involves selecting a name for your company. The name should include the phrase “Limited Liability Company” or a variation and should not contain any restricted or forbidden terms unless authorized. You can check if your chosen name meets these requirements by searching your state’s LLC name database.

Get a Copy of Your State’s LLC Articles of Organization Form

To establish your LLC as a legal entity, you must file a document known as the Articles of Organization with the state agency that handles business filings. This document is sometimes called a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization, depending on the state.

Prepare and File the LLC Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization usually require basic information such as contact information for the registered agent and, in some states, the agent’s signature. Check the document carefully before submitting it to your state. You’ll receive a certificate indicating your LLC is formally registered upon approval.

Publish a Public Notice

Some states require LLCs to publish a public notice of their existence in their local paper before filing the Articles of Organization.

Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement, although not always required, is highly recommended. This document outlines the internal rules governing your LLC, details all members’ financial, legal, and management rights, and can help avoid member disputes.

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your business and the state you’re operating, you may need to obtain additional business licenses and permits.

Decide on the LLC Structure

Several LLC types exist, including Single-member LLCs, Multi-member LLCs, L3C, Series LLCs, PLLCs, and Restricted LLCs. The choice of LLC structure depends on the nature of your business and how you intend it to operate.

Comply With Tax and Regulatory Requirements

Additional tax and regulatory requirements might apply to your LLC, including obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, registering for sales and employer taxes, and ensuring that your LLC is appropriately registered, licensed, and permitted to do business in your state.

How to Form a Corporation 

Forming a corporation involves includes several processes and requirements, which varies depending on the state where you to incorporate:

Choose a Business Name

The first step is to choose an available business name that complies with your state’s corporation rules. Hence, ensure that another corporation does not already use your chosen name is essential.

File the Articles of Incorporation

Next, you need to file formal paperwork, usually called “articles of incorporation,” with the Secretary of State in the state where your corporation is being organized. The articles of incorporation typically include the following information:

  • Corporate name
  • Business purpose
  • Registered Agent
  • Incorporator
  • Number of authorized shares of stock

Create Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws are the internal rules that govern the day-to-day operations of a corporation. They set forth the rights and duties of the shareholders, directors, and officers and outline how the corporation will operate. 

Appoint Corporate Directors and Issue Stock Certificates

Before you start operations, you’ll need to appoint the corporation’s directors. Directors make primary policy and financial decisions for the corporation and represent the corporation’s shareholders. Afterwards, issue stock certificates to the shareholders.

Obtain Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain specific licenses and permits to operate.

Maintain Ongoing Corporation Requirements

Once your corporation is formed, there are ongoing requirements such as issuing stock, maintaining records and books, holding board meetings, keeping meeting minutes, maintaining annual registration with the state government, and meeting licensing requirements.

Is an LLC Better Than a Corporation?

An LLC offers limited liability protection, more flexibility in management, and more tax classification options compared to corporations. Members or managers can manage LLCs, while corporations have a stricter structure with a board of directors and officers. Depending on the business’s goals, they can be taxed as C corporations or S corporations. LLCs can distribute ownership stakes to members without regard to their financial contributions, making them more appealing to businesses seeking outside investors. They also have fewer recordkeeping and reporting requirements than corporations with more standardized and rigid operating structures. Overall, LLCs offer greater flexibility and less administrative overhead compared to corporations.

What Is the Biggest Difference Between Corporation and LLC?

The most significant difference between a corporation and an LLC lies in ownership structure and taxation. 

Ownership Structure

A corporation is owned by shareholders who hold shares of stock in the company. Shareholders can transfer shares, buy more, or sell off stock to change their ownership percentage. An LLC is owned by one or more individuals called members. LLCs can distribute ownership stakes to members without regard to their financial contributions. This means that members can receive an equal share of profits, even if their capital investment differs.

LLC and Corporation Tax

Corporations have two tax options: C corporation and S corporation. By default, corporations are taxed as C corporations, where the corporation pays corporate taxes on its profits, and shareholders also pay personal income taxes on any distributions they receive. S corporations, on the other hand, don’t pay corporate income tax. Instead, the company’s profits pass through to the shareholders’ tax returns, and shareholders pay individual taxes on their portion. To qualify for S corporation taxation, the corporation must meet specific requirements, such as having 100 or fewer shareholders.

LLCs have more tax flexibility. Single-member LLCs are taxed as sole proprietorships, and multi-member LLCs are taxed as partnerships. In both cases, the company’s profits pass through to the members’ tax returns, and members pay income and self-employment taxes. However, an LLC can also be taxed as a C corporation or, if it qualifies, as an S corporation.


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