Preface: “I think it is very interesting in the beginning chapter of the story of Jesus, tax payments are an integral part at his arrival.” Quote from a Bible reader.
Flagstone Crossings To Lower Taxes: What Entity is Right (Segment II)
Credit: Donald Sauder, CPA | CVA
S-Corporations are selected for entrepreneurial businesses often for the asset protection of the corporate umbrella, in addition to lower FICA taxes. Since S-Corporations do not have FICA taxes assessed on net earnings with pass-through profits, and therefore no entity-level income taxes, numerous entrepreneurs can find substantial benefit in the S-Corporation election. An S-Corporation is a C-Corporation or corporate entity registered with the Department of State with that files with the IRS a Form 2553 that changes the tax structure upon approval. This tax advisor prepared form will convert the corporate level taxes to pass-through earnings on Form K-1 similar to a partnership.
The advantages of an S-Corporation with the asset protection feature under the corporate umbrella, hold risks for certain corporate activities from a legal term known as “piercing the corporate veil.”
“Piercing the corporate veil” refers to a situation in which courts put aside limited liability and hold a corporation’s shareholders or directors personally liable for the corporation’s actions or debts. Veil piercing is most common in close corporations.
As such, courts typically require corporations to engage in egregious actions to justify piercing the corporate veil. In general, this misconduct may include abusing the corporation (e.g., the intermingling of personal and corporate assets) or having [inadequate funds] at the time of incorporation.
To fulfill the strand component, the corporation must be 1 of 3 things:
•The alter ego of the parent corporation or its shareholder(s)
•The corporation is used to avoid legal limitations upon natural persons or corporations
•The corporation is a sham to perpetrate a fraud.
Further, the court stated that “actual fraud” occurs when all 4 of the following take place:
•”a party conceals or fails to disclose a material fact within the knowledge of that party.”
•”the party knows that the other party is ignorant of the fact and does not have an equal opportunity to discover the truth.”
•”the party intends the other party to take some action by concealing or failing to disclose the fact.”
•”the other party suffers injury as a result of acting without knowledge of the undisclosed fact.”
A thorough analysis of all features is advised in any tax scenario for purposes of preventing the umbrella from blowing away.
Further to the benefits of S-Corporations in the pass-through taxation, and characterization of income in the form of tax-free distributions to shareholders. Also, the cash method of accounting is permissible in qualifying instances, and the entity has a higher sense of credibility from the legacy of corporation case law. Adding to the S-Corporation features, up to 100 shareholders are permissible with one class of stock, and conversion to the S-Election status are often easy, and maybe too easy, for either multi-member LLC’s, SMLLC’s, or C-Corporations. It is advised to counsel with a tax advisor before deciding the election of an S status for any business.
Looking at the detractors to the S-Corporation include corporate formalities and reports, board minutes and legal formalities within the State of domicile, and tax risks of termination of the S-Election status, restriction to 100 shareholders, one class of stocks, and salary requirements for shareholders who provide services to the business. Therefore payroll is required for S- Corporation who have only one or several shareholder-employees. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act results in the following changes to S-Corporations that are now applicable.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—which you might know as the Trump tax plan—will bring changes to both C-corp and S-corp taxation. The new laws take effect when business owners file their taxes in 2019 (for the business’s 2018 year).
There are two main things that small businesses need to know about the new rules:
The corporate income tax rate for C-corps has been cut from 35% to 21%.
Owners of S-corporations and other pass-through entities (like LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships) will be able to deduct 20% of business income on their personal tax returns. This deduction expires in 2025 unless Congress extends the law.
It depends, says John Blake, CPA, and partner with New Jersey-based accounting firm Klatzkin & Company, LLP. He explains, “This will have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. In the tax reform, Congress built in the 20% deduction for pass-through entities such as S-corps to make up for the lower C-corp tax rates.”
What the New Law Means for S-corps
The 20% deduction for S-corps and other pass-through entities lets you save money. Businesses with less than $157,500 in annual income (for single filers) or $315,000 (for married joint filers) can take full advantage of the deduction.
There are limits to the deduction based on the type of business, the amount of income, and the number of wages you pay to employees. Professional service businesses like lawyers and doctor’s offices have the most limitations.”
Same as there are varying opinions on hat choices, the right entity choice for optimized tax results is specific and unique for entrepreneurial ventures. The author suggests that the development of the smorgasbord menu for tax entity features would provide specific customization for entrepreneurs. Of course, this is in addition to the idea that firefighters and first-responders are entitled to an additional tax credit or tax rate benefit for the dedicated purpose of necessary community service.
Next, we will delve into partnership taxation for entrepreneurs.