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S-Corp vs. C-Corp: Which is Right for Your Business?

Explore the differences between an S-Corp and a C-Corp, including advantages and disadvantages, and determine which will best fit your business.

Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach
Jan 30, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach

Amanda Beach is a writer, editor, and project manager with 10 years of experience in tech and HR. She currently resides in Denver, CO.

32 postsAuthor's posts
1920x1080 S-corp vs C-corp Which is right for your business

When starting a business, there are a lot of decisions to make – one of the first being which type of business entity to form. Two of the most popular options are S-Corporations (S-Corps) and C-Corporations (C-Corps).

While both of these options offer limited liability protection and separate the business from its owners, there are some significant differences between the two. This blog will explore the differences between S-Corps and C-Corps and provide the info you need to determine which will best fit your business.

What is an S-Corp?

An S-Corp is a type of corporation that’s taxed as a pass-through entity, meaning the profits and losses of the business are passed through to the shareholders and reported on their personal tax returns. This allows for the avoidance of double taxation, where the corporation is taxed on its profits and the shareholders are taxed on their dividends.

Advantages of an S-Corp

There are quite a few advantages of forming an S-Corp. Many are related to taxation, but some revolve around ownership and liability, too.

As far as taxation, an S-Corp is taxed as a pass-through entity (as we noted above), which can result in tax savings for shareholders. Shareholders of an S-Corp who are also employees don’t have to pay self-employment tax on their share of the business's profits, either (unlike sole proprietors and partners in a partnership).

In terms of ownership, an S-Corp provides a lot of flexibility. Not only can they have up to 100 shareholders, but shares can also be easily transferred or sold. An S-Corp also offers limited liability protection to its shareholders, meaning their personal assets are generally protected from business debts and liabilities.

Disadvantages of an S-Corp

With great advantages come unavoidable disadvantages. By forming an S-Corp, those disadvantages look like shareholder limitations, stricter requirements, and higher costs.

When it comes to ownership, S-Corps cannot have more than 100 shareholders, and all shareholders must be U.S. citizens or residents. S-Corps are also limited to one class of stock, meaning all shareholders must have the same rights and privileges. In addition, S-Corps are subject to stricter rules and regulations than some other business entities, such as mandatory annual shareholder meetings and meticulous record keeping. 

And don’t forget about the higher costs — additional filing fees and requirements make setting up and maintaining an S-Corp more expensive than some other types of entities.

What is a C-Corp?

Now let’s pivot to C-Corporations. A C-Corp is a type of corporation that’s taxed separately from its owners. What does this mean? The corporation pays taxes on its profits, and then shareholders pay taxes on any dividends they receive from the corporation.

Advantages of a C-Corp

Just like an S-Corp, a C-Corp has its benefits. In terms of taxation, C-Corps can deduct certain expenses, such as employee benefits, from their taxes. C-Corps can also be subject to lower tax rates than individuals, depending on the business's profits.

With ownership, C-Corps don’t have any restrictions on the number or type of shareholders. Unlike an S-Corp, they can also have multiple classes of stock, which allows for different rights and privileges for different shareholders. But just like an S-Corp, a C-Corp offers limited liability protection to its shareholders.

Disadvantages of a C-Corp

C-Corps, of course, have their disadvantages. For one, taxes are more complicated. C-Corps are subject to double taxation — the corporation is taxed on its profits and shareholders are taxed on their dividends. C-Corps need to file a separate tax return, too, which can be more complex and time-consuming than filing personal tax returns.

Rules can be strict for C-Corp as well, meaning compliance efforts might be more time-consuming and costly. And that’s in addition to higher costs for set up and maintenance of a C-Corp. Much like an S-Corp, there are additional filing fees and requirements compared to some other types of business entities.

Sole Proprietorship

When considering which business entity makes sense, it’s worth looking into a sole proprietorship as well. Another common business entity, a sole proprietorship is owned and operated by one individual. They’re typically held to less strict rules and regulations.

Sole proprietorships offer more simplicity and lower costs compared to S-Corps and C-Corps, but they don’t offer the limited liability protection that corporations do. What does this mean? The owner's personal assets generally are not protected from business debts and liabilities. Sole proprietorships are also subject to self-employment tax on all profits.

Operating as a sole proprietorship has its advantages over forming an S-Corp or C-Corp, but just like corporations have their disadvantages, so do sole proprietorships.

Which is Right for My Business?

When deciding between an S-Corp and a C-Corp, it’s important to consider your business's specific needs and goals. Are you looking for liability protection and potential tax savings? An S-Corp may be the best fit. However, if you're planning on bringing in investors, or if you have a more complex ownership structure, a C-Corp may be a better option.

It's also important to consider the potential costs and requirements of each type of corporation. While an S-Corp may offer tax savings, it can also come with higher costs and stricter regulations than some other types of business entities. On the other hand, a C-Corp may offer more flexibility and potential for lower tax rates, but it can also be subject to double taxation and more complex tax filing.

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach
Jan 30, 20244 minutes

Amanda Beach is a writer, editor, and project manager with 10 years of experience in tech and HR. She currently resides in Denver, CO.

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