I will use personal funds to start the business which will be mostly retail but may provide other on-site services. I do not want to take any salary for the first year or so and will funnel all sales back into the company for income tax purposes and so as not to affect my current ACA benefits. I also want to assure that my personal assets are not in jeopardy, either through the corp type (S-Corp, LLC, etc.) or through a liability insurance policy. what is the best way to structure the business initially?
An LLC is the way to go. There's actually no such thing as an "S-Corp" - just a corporation or LLC that's taxed under Subchapter S. If you do create an LLC, talk with a tax attorney or CPA to discuss whether being taxed as a partnership (default) or as an S-Corp (must make the election) is right for you.
This advice does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. You should seek advice from an attorney in your area who deals with this specific legal issue. I assume no liability for actions you take based on my answer.
It is a business that you are investing in. You hope to make a living to support you and your family and do better than that. One of the investments is in a competent business lawyer to advise you and structure the business in view of its actual model, its goals and its financial structure. Tax issues come into play as well.
WIth an S Corp or an LLC that is disregarded for income tax purposes, any net income will be reportable to you regardless or whether you leave it in the company or take it out. The only entity that you can use to avoid this is a C Corporation, but that has its own disadvantages. I recommend that you consult with t a business/tax attorney, who can recommend the best entity based on your particular situation.
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