Continued from Choosing the Right Entity for Business Formation: Part 1
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A Limited Liability Company is a business entity created by legislation that offers its owners the limited personal liability of a corporation and the tax advantages of a partnership. Just like a corporation, Limited Liability Companies need to have formation documents and an Operating Agreement document filed with the state agency. Standard operational procedures are not as extensive as corporations, but most states do have some formal requirements such as annual reports.
Members are not responsible for debts accrued by the company unless a member secured the debt with a personal asset. The size of an LLC can be single member, but there are some states where two or more members are required. LLCs can have perpetual existence unless the state agency in which the LLC is filed in does not allow for perpetual existence.
An LLC in California cannot aquire a professional state license to operate, e.g. Contractor’s License or Real Estate License. The California Corporations Code defines such "professional services" as: "Any type of professional services that may be lawfully rendered only persuant to a license, certification or registration authorized by the Business and Professions Code, the Chiropractic Act, the Osteopathic Act or the Yacht and Ship Brokers Act. If your business is required to be licensed, registered or certified, it is recommended that you contact the appropriate licensing authority before filing with the SOS's office in order to determine whether your services are considered professional. (California Corporations Code sections 13401(a) and 13401.3, see also the Secretary of State's LLC form instructions )
For more information about LLCs and other business entities check out our Entity Comparison Table.
Examples of LLCs: Real Estate Investment Properties, restaurants, Motion Picture Groups
Sole Proprietorship (SP)
No state filing is required for this kind of entity, but a City Tax License may be required. The only start-up cost for an SP in California is the Business Tax License. The kind of operational procedures required are easier to carry out and overall there are few legal requirements. SPs are taxed only once yearly. This kind of entity has unlimited liability and so personal assets can be lost.
A Sole Proprietorship can either cease doing business or die; there is no set number of years for it to exist.
Examples: arts and crafts shops, “Mom and Pop” type of shops, website developer businesses
General Partnership (GP)
Like a Sole Proprietorship GPs usually do not require state filings- but some states allow GPs to file at state agencies. A Partnership Agreement should be created. There are few legal requirements. In terms of liability both business partners are equally responsible unless the Partnership Agreement states otherwise.
Two or more people can form a General Partnership and the length of existence depends upon the Partnership Agreement. The typical cause of dissolution is the death or withdrawal of one of the partners. The start-up costs include the business tax license and other such filings can be done at both the county and state levels.
Examples: any small businesses where there are two or more business partners working under a Partnership Agreement, such as an auto repair shop
Also see --->> Choosing the Right Entity for Business Formation: Part 1
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