S Corporation Requirements, Advantages, and Disadvantages
Deciding which type of corporation is the best for your business can be a confusing and tedious task. Two types of corporations are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service for the purpose of federal income tax imposition: C corporations and S corporations.
An S corporation is a special structure of business ownership by which the business is able to avoid double taxation because it is not required to pay corporate income tax on the profits of the company.
Incorporating as an S CorpA business electing to incorporate with S corporation status has its business income taxed only once, similar to how sole proprietorships and partnerships are taxed. By electing to become an S corporation, a small business can avail the legal advantages available to businesses with a corporate structure as well as the tax advantages available to partnership firms. Such provisions have been made primarily in order to promote small businesses and relieve them from the financial burden of double taxation.
A business wanting to take advantage of the tax benefits available to S corporations has to make an election for being treated like one. This election is made by filling out Form 2553 and submitting it to the Internal Revenue Service. The form requesting this election, duly signed by all shareholders, should be submitted on or before the 15th of March of the tax year from which a corporation elects to be treated as an S corporation. The business however must conform to certain set criteria before it can be accorded an S corporation status.
S Corporation EligibilityThe relevant provisions containing details that also specify the criteria for S corporation eligibility can be found in Chapter 1, Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code. They state that in order to be eligible for becoming an S corporation
- The business needs to have fewer than 100 shareholders.
- Every shareholder must be a US citizen or US resident.
- All shareholders support an S corporation business structure.
- The business is required be a domestic company located within any state in the US.
- Individuals, estates and selected types of trusts qualify for becoming shareholders of an S corporation.
- The S corporation can have only one class of stock. This can broadly be understood as all shares of the corporation conferring equal and identical rights on shareholders in terms of profit distributions and liquidation proceeds.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages of an S Corporation
- No Corporate Tax
- Reduce Taxable Gains
- Write off Start-up Losses
- Liability Protection
Disadvantages of an S Corporation
- Limited to 100 shareholders
- Can only use domestic capitalization
- Shareholders pay taxes on all profits in the year earned, whether or not they are distributed.
- Generally must operate on a calendar year
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