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S Corp

S Corp

  • Limited liability protection
  • Pass-through taxation
  • Tax benefits
  • Requires to file annual paperwork

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Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship

  • Easiest business type to start
  • No personal liability protection
  • No formal incorporation needed 
  • It doesn’t require corporate tax filing

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S Corp vs Sole Proprietorship is one of the most significant decisions when choosing a business entity. If you are self-employed, you can never take this decision lightly. This is because every business structure has its pros and cons. For example, Forming an S corporation would require more involvement than operating as a sole proprietor. You need to file different legal documents with the state and get the employer identification number. 

However, it also has its advantages, including limited liability protection. Choosing the proper business structure[2] is crucial to your success. A business owner must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of all business entities. Here is everything you should know about Sole Proprietorship vs S corp businesses.

About S Corp 

An S Corp is an incorporated business entity. It describes a different legal institution separate from the owners. In the US, the IRS has strict regulations regarding the eligibility to become an S Corp. According to the IRS, S corp elects to pass the salary income process and taxation through their shareholders.

These finances include profits and losses, tax deductions, and credits. Since it passes all the finances through to shareholders, the IRS taxes an S Corp like a partnership. Therefore, they handle any income and losses.

In addition, an S Corp pays specific taxes on the reasonable salary and income outside what stakeholders keep. This is crucial in avoiding any double taxation associated with the C corps. The IRS taxes a business as a pass-through entity, preventing it from paying double self-employment taxes.

Therefore, a proprietor can choose to form his small business as an S Corp. If you decide to make this election, the IRS will tax it as an S Corp rather than an LLC or corporate taxation. Most people start as sole proprietors before incorporating and establishing an S Corp. 

About Sole Proprietorship 

The sole proprietorship[1] is a common business establishment and the most accessible structure to start and operate. Here the business and the person are the same without legal separation between the two. Hence, a person is financially responsible for any debts or damages.

Unlike an S Corp or LLC, you do not need to register your business with the state to work as sole proprietors. The owners’ legal name can service the name of the company to pay income taxes. You do not need to incorporate the business, but you must give up the liability protection of a formal business structure. 

An individual proprietor can also hire employees or contractors. However, the work by any employee is legally bound to the proprietor. Each responsibility lies on the shoulder of the business owner. 

They are exempt from excise taxes[3], which make taxes simpler. Your salary is taxed at an ordinary income tax rate. They don’t pay taxes on file Returns. Instead, you report your profit or losses on your personal tax return (IRS Form 1040). 

S Corp vs Sole Proprietorship

S Corp

S Corp

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  • An S corporation passes its income and losses through to shareholders to report on tax returns. It helps avoid double taxation since you don’t pay Medicare tax. S Corps only pay self-employment taxes, thus saving money on salary taxes.
  • An S-Corp enjoys reduced self-employment tax that reduces the owner’s personal tax bill. This is because the IRS views components as employees. They don’t have to pay self-employment taxes on dividends and distribution.
  • S Corps enjoys limited liability protection[4]. Hence, your assets are exempt from business obligations. You can safeguard your personal assets with S Corps because of the little liability protection. Your business survives when something happens to you.
  • The ownership of S Corp can transfer their interest without tax consequences associated with an LLC. Thus, you enjoy a simplified transfer of ownership.
  • An S Corp is subject to corporate formalities.[5] These formalities include creating bylaws and holding shareholder meetings.
  • You are required to pay fees on annual reports, franchises, and other items. 
  •  S Corps are subject to more IRS scrutiny compared to other LLCs. You must adhere to the state rules that differ from the regular LLC or sole proprietorships. 
  • An S Corp is limited to small businesses with less than 100 shareholders.
  • S corporations must file annual reports with the state to keep their company current. It’s needed when establishing a company and if you change managers or directors. 
  • The S Corps are limited to one class of stock.
Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship

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  •  You enjoy an easy setup and cost. Since the structure is not formal, you don’t have to fill out paperwork or articles of incorporation before getting started. The simple form makes sole proprietorship suitable for small businesses and anyone starting a new venture.
  • The business entity doesn’t have corporate business taxes.
  • A business owner doesn’t need to file annual article reports to stay current. You only need to provide income tax returns. The lack of yearly filing saves you time and money because you must pay a fee for these annual filings. 
  • A sole proprietor doesn’t pay 20% in self-employment taxes on business profits. Instead, you file your tax returns and claim any extra income from your business as pastor taxes
  • Unlimited liability means you are held personally responsible for the business obligations. A lender can come after your personal assets to satisfy any business obligations due to limited protection.
  • It is challenging to raise money unless you have tangible assets and intellectual property. Thus, investors are unlikely to invest money in your business since you don’t have equity shares.
  • Difficulty to take on business debt
  • There is no structure for ensuring continuity. This makes it harder to make long-term plans or create succession plans.
  • Since a sole proprietor is not a formally established company, business owners cannot take out a business loan. Every fund you borrow to grow your business is personal debt.

S Corp vs Sole Proprietorship – Brand comparison details

An important factor when starting a business is to decide on the type of business corporation. This decision often comes down to register as sole proprietorship vs small business corporation (S Corp). S Corps have limited protection and tax options[6]. Under sole proprietors, a creditor can sue the business owner and seek to attach his personal assets to satisfy that and applications.

Sole proprietorship vs S Corp: Which Should You Choose?

Choose S Corp if:

Select the S Corp if you want limited protection liability. Since it is a corporation, the S Corp provides its owners with limited liability. Hence, your shareholders are protected from the company’s debts. If a small business enters into legal or financial trouble, your personal assets are safe. 

Also, choose an S corp if you want to enjoy tax benefits[7]. Every profit or loss passes through to the owner’s personal tax return as a pass-through entity. Hence, S Corps pay less income tax on their business income compared to a sole proprietor. An S Corp is the only business type that makes it possible to save on social security and Medicare taxes.

Hence, a small business owner can avoid double taxation with an S corporation or LLC.

Choose Sole Proprietorship if:

The sole proprietorship is created by default when starting a small business. It requires brief formalities as you only need the standard license and permit. Choose this structure because it’s simple and requires no legal filings to start the business. 

If you don’t prefer a more formal set up with an LLC or corporation, you select this business structure. It doesn’t have legal paperwork requirements such as articles of incorporation. Also, choose a sole proprietorship If you don’t have enough money to invest in another structure. A simple LLC business registration requires hundreds of Dollars in state filing fees. With an individual proprietor, you can start a small business with little or no upfront investment.

In this structure, you won’t pay taxes or file tax article returns. However, it is not the best choice if you are interested in protecting your liability. 

You can operate a business as a sole proprietor or form an LLC such as an S Corp. Your decision will affect how you are taxed and your personal liability. Tax classification is the primary reason business owners move to S Corps. There are better benefits available if you establish an S Corp. 

A Sole proprietor taxes every salary income by a business as a reasonable salary earned by the taxpayer. They must also pay self-employment tax. These are the contributions towards social security and Medicare taxes. In contrast, S corps do not pay self-employment taxes.

Under these business entities, there is no distinction between the owner and the business itself for tax payments. You cannot register as an S Corp unless you take the proper steps to elect the status.

Can sole proprietors become S Corporations?

A sole proprietor is not a legal entity compared to other corporations. However, business owners can legally create an S corporation with a single shareholder. You can’t move directly to an S Corp. Instead, you must form either an LLC or a C Corp,  get a certificate of formation, then elect an S Corp status with the internal revenue service status.

Most people are tempted to establish their business as an S corporation. Sole proprietorships offer different benefits to corporations. You will lose these benefits if you elect an S Corp status. Therefore, form an LLC before selecting an S Corp status. 

Final thought

Decide on the business structure depending on your goals. You are a sole proprietor if you run a business without forming LLCs. With time, a business owner can change his business type as the goals and objectives change. 

Forming an S corp is more involved than operating as a sole proprietor. Business owners must file legal documents with the state and get the employer identification number. An S Corp is elected for S corporation status through the internal revenue service (IRS). This status allows taxation of the company to be similar to a partnership to avoid paying self-employment tax. 

Therefore, not every business can open an S Corp. For example, State laws require S-corps to hold annual meetings and keep minutes of these meetings. You must speak to a business law attorney before proceeding with any LLC plans. Also, research about distinct business entities before settling on the correct one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an S corporation

S Corp is a business corporation established as an entirely separate legal entity from its owners.

How is the S corporation different from a sole proprietorship

In a proprietorship, the owner and legal entity are the same, while in an S corp, the owner is separated from the business.

How do you set up an LLC

whether applying for an LLC or an S Corp, you must comply with the legal requirements. When forming an S Corp, the complex legal matter involves filing appropriate legal documents articles with the state and contacting the internal revenue system.

Can you switch from a sole proprietorship to an S Corp

yes, it is possible to switch to an S Corp. You can change your entity to enjoy the tax advantages and LLC protection. However, you must first form a C Corp before electing an S Corp status.

Is an S Corp taxed like a sole proprietorship

Taxation for an S Corp differs from that of an individual proprietor. People choose the S corporation because of the tax classification. As an individual proprietor, all profits you earn from your business are subject to income taxes.

Which is better for taxes between an S Corp and LLC?

An S Corp is not subject to business income tax since all profits pass through the company. It has better taxes than LLC owners who must pay self-employment tax on reasonable salary profit. S corps has lower tax and filing requirements than LLC.

Why would you choose an S corporation

Becoming an S Corp can reduce business income taxes if you meet all the restrictions. You enjoy limited liability protection while saving money on your business taxes.

Why would you choose a sole proprietorship business entity

Since it is the simplest way to start a business, the structure appeals to many entrepreneurs. A business owner doesn’t need to go through tedious paperwork filing and keeping up with documentation requirements.


+ 7 sources

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  2. Proquest.com. (2021). Choosing a business structure – ProQuest. [online] Available at: https://www.proquest.com/openview/1cfd6c8b96e0e6e35f257e5c71d80f7a/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41118 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].
  3. Chowdhury, A.A. (2013). Proprietorship Firms: Advantages and Survival. SSRN Electronic Journal. [online] Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2220979 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].
  4. Proquest.com. (2021). Advantages And Pitfalls Of Electing S Corporation Staus For – ProQuest. [online] Available at: https://www.proquest.com/openview/bd3747f51a8a16d6f80c71860817695a/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41798 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].
  5. Proquest.com. (2021). Advantages and disadvantages of S corporation in the United States. [online] Available at: https://elib.bsu.by/bitstream/123456789/52874/1/denisuyk_Sbornik9_tom1.pdf [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].
  6. National Tax Journal. (2015). WHO BENEFITS FROM THE TAX ADVANTAGES OF ORGANIZATIONAL FORM CHOICE? | National Tax Journal: Vol 68, No 4. [online] Available at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.17310/ntj.2015.4.04 [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].
  7. Ny.gov. (2020). Income Tax Considerations. [online] Available at: https://www.tax.ny.gov/help/taxpayer-education/financial/3-self-employment-resources-5.htm [Accessed 29 Sep. 2021].