Say the company makes $75,000 and it has 3 members.
For a multi member partnership does each partner pay self-employment tax and income tax on their $25,000 portion?
Also would there be any benefits of electing to be taxed as an S Corp for the LLC ?
Estate Planning Attorney
You referred to the entity as a partnership and then subsequently as an LLC. I will assume the company is an LLC taxed as a partnership. The answer to your question depends on the terms of the operating agreement and the ownership interest of each individual. The operating agreement will state the ownership interests and whether profits and losses are allocated to the owners pro rata or by some other special allocation. The owners will pay taxes based upon the allocation of profits and losses stated in the operating agreement. No income tax is paid at the entity level.
As far as your question of whether or not there would be a benefit to being taxed as an S Corp, the answer depends heavily on the facts and circumstances of your company and could not be accurately answered without a lot more information.
I suggest you see a qualified accountant and attorney to assist in these issues.
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11 lawyers agree
I agreed wit Todd and can add that generally with $75k income it is probable not worth the additional paperwork associated with S Corp reporting requirements. And again, too many factors play into this decision. Get a lawyer to look at it, it is worth coupla hundred bucks.
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There is no simple answer to this question unless there is no operating agreement. By default, the income is split according to ownership %. But the members can choose to allocate income by many different methods in the operating agreement. Unlike an S-corp, the ownership interests are not easily defined. The power to make almost any decision can be delegated with an LLC and does not have to match the ownership interest. There are limitations to tax allocations that are too favorable, but an LLC has a lot of leeway when it comes to allocating tax items between members.
There are no benefits to being taxed as an S corp on the surface. That might be a better structure if there were a single owner because the LLC structure would be disregarded. But an LLC allows far more flexibility.
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It's often the case that the answer depends on the specific details of your situation. But there are some underlying principles that almost always apply in these types of cases. If the LLC has elected to be taxed as a partnership, AND each of the members is actively involved in the LLC's operation, then each would be allocated their pro rata share of the profits and would end up paying self-employment tax on the earnings.
However, if one of the members was simply a participant for profit distributions then this "passive" partner would receive their pro rata portion as other income, NOT subject to self-employment tax.
And the scenerio's on the above could fill several pages. We routinely prepare LLC tax returns and when structured properly, with a little advance planning, much of the self-employment tax concerns can be eliminated. If there's $75K in potential profits, spend a small portion of this to get some good tax planning advice and you'll likely save yourself substantially more in taxes that the legal fees.
As far as the S-Corporation designation goes, I'd agree with the majority of the other responders - assuming no special circumstances, there's little, if any advantage to the designation and it may subject you to minimum taxes you'd not otherwise have. But that's another thing you could get specific advice on when you sit down to do the tax planning.
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