New business ventures are often faced with several critical questions and decisions when creating a new business. The first step is to determine the the nature of the Massachusetts corporate entity that they desire to operate (i.e., corporation, limited liability company, etc.). This decision depends on several factors including the type of business (services or products), the contemplated ownership structure, tax considerations and potential financing opportunities.
If a new business owner decides against forming a Massachusetts Limited Liability Company, and determines that forming a Massachusetts Corporation is the most advantageous entity, the next important step is to determine whether the entity will be taxed as a C-corporation or S-corporation. The “S” and “C” Corporation designations refer to different sub-chapters of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal tax laws), and are more particularly described below.
A corporate entity will be taxed as a C-Corporation by default unless it makes an election to be taxed as an S-corporation. A C-Corporation is subject to double taxation, once at the entity level and then again on the shareholder level, when dividends (profit distributions) are paid out to the shareholders. Funds that are earned in a C-Corporation can be retained within the entity rather than being passed through (and taxed) to shareholders, and the corporation can also carry losses Therefore, as opposed to an S-corporation, money that is earned in the C-corporation will be retained within the company rather than passing through to the individual shareholders. Additional benefits include the ability to hold initial public offerings (IPOs), carry back of losses up to three years and less limitations on the type of shareholders.
S-corporation status is the most common election made by small businesses. However, the small business must meet several requirements, including the entity must have only “allowable” shareholders, less than 100 shareholders and there may be only one class of stock. In other words, the number of Massachusetts Corporation shareholders will be limited and all will have the same voting rights and distributions.
S-Corporations are treated as a “pass-through” entity, similar to a Massachusetts Limited Liability Company (LLC). In other words, the company will not be taxed at the entity level, and will only be taxed at the shareholder level. Each shareholder will then be responsible for paying their own taxes on their share of income derived from the corporation.
If you are forming a new entity and creating a new business, please contact one of our Lynnfield based business attorneys at 781-463-6063.