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What Is an S Corporation (S Corp)?

An S corporation or S corp, also known as an S subchapter, refers khổng lồ a type of corporation that meets specificInternal Revenue Code requirements. The S corp is a structure that offers certain tax advantages over C corporations, or C corps, which cosplay the bulk of corporations. For example, an S corp—but not a C corp—may pass income (along with other credits, deductions, và losses) directly lớn shareholders, without having khổng lồ pay federal corporate taxes.

Usually associated with small businesses (100 or fewer shareholders), S corp status effectively gives a business the regular benefits of incorporation while enjoying the tax-exempt privileges of a partnership. Another structure common among small businesses is a limited liability company (LLC), which has some of the same advantages of an S corp.

An S corporation or S corp, also known as an S subchapter, is one type of legal business structure common among small business. A limited liability company (LLC) is another.Requirements of an S corp give a corporation with 100 shareholders or less the benefit of incorporation while being taxed as a partnership. Both S corps và LLCs are pass-through entities, meaning they don't pay corporate taxes, and both offer limited liability protection for their owners/principals. However, LLCs are more flexible.S corporation shareholders must be individuals, specific trusts and estates, or certain tax-exempt organizations. LLCs aren't subject to lớn the same IRS rules governing the number và type of members, who are typically sole proprietors or small groups of professionals.

Understanding an S Corporation (S Corp)

S corporations get their name from Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code, under which they've elected to lớn be taxed. The key characteristic of a corporation filed under Subchapter S: It may pass business income, losses, deductions, and credits directly to shareholders, without paying any federal corporate tax—something known as a “pass-through” entity. It is liable on the corporate cấp độ for taxes on specific built-in gains and passive income, however.

Aside from its tax status, an S corp is similar to lớn any other corporation, or C corporation as they"re officially known. It’s a for-profit company, incorporated under & governed by the same state corporation laws. It offers similar liability protection, ownership, and management advantages as a C corporation. It must also observe internal practices và formalities: have a board of directors, write corporate bylaws, conduct shareholders" meetings, and keep minutes of significant company meetings.

The main difference between an S corp and a C corp is the way each is taxed: The profit of a C corp is taxed lớn the corporation when earned, and then taxed to the shareholders when distributed as dividends, creating a double tax. An S corp may pass income directly to lớn shareholders, without having to lớn pay federal corporate taxes.

IRS requirements for an S corp

To qualify for S corporation status, a business has to meet certain IRS requirements. It has khổng lồ be incorporated domestically (within the United States), have only one class of stock, và not have more than 100 shareholders. In addition, those shareholders must meet certain eligibility requirements, which means they must be individuals, specific trusts & estates, or certain tax-exempt organizations (501(c)(3)). Partnerships, corporations, và nonresident aliens cannot qualify as eligible shareholders.

S corp shareholders report income, gains, and losses from the corporation on their individualtax returns, & pay taxes at their ordinary income tax rates. Since the money comes lớn them không tính phí of corporate tax, they avoid double taxation on any income or earnings.

It then must tệp tin Form 2553 with the IRS. Known officially as "Election by a Small Business Corporation," the form states that the IRS will accept the S corp status only if the business meets all the qualifications for the status, "all shareholders have signed the consent statement, an officer has signed below, và the exact name và address of the corporation (entity) and other required form information have been provided."

Advantages và Disadvantages of S Corporations

Advantages of Registering as an S Corp

The big advantage is the tax benefit: not having to lớn pay federal taxes at the entity level. Saving money on corporate taxes is beneficial, especially when a business is in its early years.S corp shareholders can be company employees, earn salaries, and receive corporate dividends that are tax-free if the distribution does not exceed their stock basis. If dividends exceed a shareholder"s stock basis, the excess is taxed as capital gains—but these are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.Other advantages include being able lớn transfer interests or adjust property basis, without facing adverse tax consequences or having to lớn comply with complex accounting rules.S corporation status may help establish credibility with potential customers, employees, suppliers, & investors by showing the owner’s formal commitment to lớn the company.

Disadvantages of Registering as an S Corp

When it comes to making those distributions lớn stakeholders, the S corp must allocate profits and losses based strictly on the percentage of ownership or number of shares each individual holds.Rarely, the IRS may terminate an S corp"s Subchapter S status if an S corp doesn"t properly allocate profits & losses—or if it makes any other noncompliance moves, like mistakes in an election, consent, notification, stock ownership, or filing requirement. However, a quick rectification of noncompliance errors can usually avert any adverse consequences.In many states, owners pay annual report fees, a franchise tax, and other miscellaneous fees. However, the charges are typically inexpensive and may be deducted as a cost of doing business. Also, all investors receive dividend và distribution rights, regardless of whether the investors have voting rights.The limits on the number and the nature of shareholders might prove onerous for a business that"s growing rapidly & wants khổng lồ attract venture capital or institutional investors.

Tax benefits: no or lesser corporate & self-employment tax for owner, no double taxation for shareholders

Protections of incorporation: limited liability, transfer of interests

Prestige, credibility


Costs of incorporation

Complex compliance rules

Potentially growth-inhibiting qualifications lớn maintain status

S Corp vs. LLC

A limited liability company (LLC) is another type of legal business entity. Lượt thích the S corp, it's a common go-to structure for small businesses.

LLCs and S corps chia sẻ other characteristics as well. Both are pass-through entities, meaning they don"t pay corporate taxes, và both offer limited liability protection for their owners/principals, meaning the owners’ personal assets can"t be touched by business creditors, nor can they be held personally responsible in lawsuits filed against the company.

However, LLCs are more flexible than S corps. They aren't subject to the IRS regulations concerning the number và type of shareholders/owners (called "members"), or to other federal or state rules regarding governance, procedure, và distribution of funds. They can allocate their profits & losses in whatever proportions the owners desire.

Easier to establish than S corps, LLCs typically are formed by sole proprietors or small groups of professionals, lượt thích attorneys, doctors, or accountants. However, their financing options are more limited—generally, to ngân hàng loans, as opposed to lớn equity investors. This can limit their potential for growth.

U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation

Although they are largely exempt from corporate taxes, S corporations must still report their earnings lớn the federal government và file tax returns.

Form 1120-S is essentially an S corp"s tax return. Often accompanied by a Schedule K-1, which delineates the percentage of company shares owned by each individual shareholder, size 1120-S reports the income, losses, dividends, & other distributions the corporation has passed onto its shareholders.

Unlike C corps, which must file quarterly, S corps only file once a year, like individual taxpayers. Form 1120-S is simpler than tax forms for C corporations, too. The version for 2021 ran five pages.

As long as a company elects S corporation status (and the IRS has accepted that election), it must tệp tin Form 1120-S. The form is due by the 15th day of the third month after the kết thúc of its fiscal year—generally, March 15 for companies that follow a calendar year.

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Like individuals, S corporations can request a six-month extension to file their tax returns. To bởi so, they must file Form 7004: Application for Automatic Extension of Time To tệp tin Certain Business Income Tax, Information, & Other Returns by their return"s regular due date.

S corporations can be the best of both worlds for a small business, combining the benefits of corporations with the tax advantages of partnerships.

Specifically, S corporations offer the limited liability protection of the corporate structure—meaning an owner's personal assets can't be accessed by business creditors or legal claims against the company. But, like partnerships, they don't pay corporate taxes on any earnings & income they generate. They can also help owners avoid self-employment tax, if their compensation is structured as a salary or a stock dividend.

An S corporation is named for Subchapter S of Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code. It has elected to be taxed under this provision of the IRS code. S corps are also known as S subchapters.

In many ways, an S corp works as any corporation does. Operating under its home state's corporation statutes, it establishes a board of directors & corporate officers, by-laws, and a management structure. It issues shares of company stock. Its owners cannot be held personally or financially liable for claims by creditors or against the company.

S corps are distinguished by the fact that they are not federally taxed on most of the earnings they generate and distribute, leaving more money to pass lớn shareholders (who do pay taxes on the funds, at their ordinary-income rates). The funds must be allocated strictly based on the shareholders' equity stake or their number of shares.

S corps must restrict their number of shareholders khổng lồ 100 or less, & these must all be individuals, nonprofits, or trusts. These stockholders, along with the corporation itself, must be U.S.-based.

Come tax time, S corps must distribute the khung Schedule K-1 to shareholders, indicating their annual profits or losses from the company, and file khung 1120-S with the IRS.

Whether an LLC or an S corp is better depends on the kích thước and nature of the business & its aspirations for growth.

An LLC tends to lớn be preferable for sole proprietors or enterprises with just a few partners, due khổng lồ its flexibility & ease of establishment. If a business is larger—or aspires to be—then an S corp might work better. S corps have more financing options: Unlike LLCs, they are allowed to offer equity stakes khổng lồ investors in return for capital, for example. And if their operations are complex, they would benefit from establishing the formal structures, compliance procedures, và other protocols required of corporations.

One key difference between S corps and C corps can be expressed in one word: taxes. In a nutshell, C corps pay them & S corps don't (mostly).

C corps pay corporate taxes on their earnings, the way individuals pay income taxes. (In the U.S., corporations are taxed currently at a flat rate of 21%.) Any dividends or other profits are then distributed khổng lồ shareholders with after-tax funds. S corps, by contrast, are exempt from federal tax on most earnings—there are a few exceptions on certain capital gains và passive income—so they can distribute more gains to stockholders.

In return for this tax benefit, S corps face certain IRS-mandated restrictions. They & their shareholders must be domestically based. They can have no more than 100 shareholders, whose ranks are limited khổng lồ individuals, nonprofits, trusts, and estates—no institutional investors, in other words. Và they can issue only one class of stock.

C corps vày not have to lớn comply with any of these restrictions. Generally (though not always) an S corp is smaller than a C corp.

The Bottom Line

S corporations are a common type of legal entity recommended for small businesses. They carry the tax advantages of partnerships while providing the limited liability protections of corporations. Sort of a corporate-lite structure, they are easy to lớn establish & simpler lớn maintain than regular C corporations.

S corps bởi require many of the protocols and incur many of the costs associated with regular corporations—starting with the fees and formalities associated with incorporation. They are definitely more expensive to establish & time-consuming khổng lồ maintain than LLCs, another popular small-business structure.

Though advantageous for fast-growing firms, they are also subject to certain restrictions on their size and shareholder by the IRS, which could eventually inhibit their expansion. The good news is, it's relatively easy for an S corp to lớn change to lớn C corporation status, should business conditions prove favorable to vì so. requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include trắng papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in oureditorial policy.
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