If you are planning to purchase a residential care business in California, you might be wondering what type of business entity to choose. One option that could offer you some significant tax advantages is an S corporation. An S corporation is a special tax designation that allows you to avoid double taxation and reduce self-employment taxes. But how does it work and what are the pros and cons of choosing an S corporation for your business? Here is a brief overview of what you need to know.

What is an S Corporation?

An S corporation is not a separate type of business entity, but rather a tax election that you can make for your existing corporation or limited liability company (LLC). By electing S corporation status, you can enjoy the benefits of limited liability protection, which means that your personal assets are generally not at risk if your business faces debts or lawsuits. However, unlike a regular corporation, which pays corporate income tax and then distributes dividends to shareholders who pay personal income tax, an S corporation passes through its income, losses, deductions and credits to its shareholders, who report them on their personal tax returns. This way, you can avoid the double taxation that applies to regular corporations.

What are the Tax Advantages of an S Corporation?

One of the main tax advantages of an S corporation is that you can save on self-employment taxes, which are composed of Social Security and Medicare taxes. As an owner and employee of an S corporation, you can pay yourself a reasonable salary for the work you do for the business, and pay self-employment taxes only on that salary. The rest of your income from the business can be distributed as dividends, which are not subject to self-employment taxes. For example, if your adult residential facility generates $100,000 in net income and you pay yourself a reasonable salary of $40,000, you would pay self-employment taxes on $40,000 and receive $60,000 as dividends that are free from self-employment taxes. This could save you up to 14.13% in taxes on each dollar of profit.

Another tax advantage of an S corporation is that you can use the cash method of accounting instead of the accrual method if your business does not have inventories. The cash method is simpler and allows you to report income when you receive it and expenses when you pay them, rather than when they are earned or incurred. This can give you more flexibility and control over your cash flow and tax planning.

What are the Drawbacks of an S Corporation?

While an S corporation can offer some attractive tax benefits, it also comes with some drawbacks and limitations that you should consider before making the election. Some of the drawbacks include:
* You have to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for S corporation status. For example, you cannot have more than 100 shareholders, you can only issue one class of stock, your shareholders must be individuals or certain trusts or estates (not partnerships or corporations), and none of your shareholders can be nonresident aliens.
*You have to file additional forms and paperwork with the IRS and the state to elect and maintain your S corporation status. For example, you have to file Form 2553 with the IRS within two months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year in which the election is to take effect, and you have to file Form 1120-S every year to report your income and expenses. You may also have to file additional state forms and pay state fees or taxes depending on where your business is located.
* You have to pay yourself a reasonable salary for the work you do for the business, which means that you cannot minimize your self-employment taxes by paying yourself a very low salary or no salary at all. The IRS expects you to offer reasonable compensation to each employee, including yourself, based on factors such as experience level, comparable salary, geographic location and economic conditions. If the IRS determines that your salary is too low or too high, it may reclassify some or all of your dividends as wages and subject them to self-employment taxes and penalties.
How to Start an S Corporation
If you decide that an S corporation is the right choice for your residential care business, here are the basic steps that you need to follow:
Name your business: Choose a unique and catchy name for your business that reflects your brand identity and complies with the state naming rules. Check that the name is available by searching the state database and registering it with the state if necessary.
Choose a registered agent: A registered agent is a person or entity that agrees to receive legal documents and notices on behalf of your business. You need to designate a registered agent in each state where your business operates. You can choose a professional service or act as your own registered agent if you meet the state requirements.
File the articles of organization: The articles of organization are the legal documents that create your LLC or corporation with the state. You need to file them with the state agency that handles business registrations, usually the secretary of state or the department of state. You may have to pay a filing fee and provide information such as your business name, address, registered agent, purpose, duration and management structure.
File initial statement of information: The initial statement of information is a report that provides basic information about your business to the state. You need to file it within a certain period of time after forming your LLC or corporation, usually within 90 days. You may have to pay a filing fee and provide information such as your business name, address, registered agent, officers, directors and shareholders.
Create an operating agreement: An operating agreement is a document that outlines the rules and procedures for running your business. It covers topics such as ownership structure, profit and loss allocation, voting rights, management responsibilities, dispute resolution and dissolution. Although it is not required by the state, it is highly recommended that you create an operating agreement to protect your rights and interests as an owner and avoid potential conflicts with your partners or the state default rules.

Get an EIN and file Form 2553 to elect S corp tax status: An EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. You need to obtain one from the IRS by applying online, by mail or by fax. You also need to file Form 2553 with the IRS within two months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year in which the election is to take effect. You may have to attach a copy of your articles of organization and a consent statement from all of your shareholders.

An S corporation can be a smart choice for your residential care business if you want to enjoy limited liability protection and save on self-employment taxes. However, you also have to consider the drawbacks and limitations of this tax designation, such as the eligibility requirements, the filing obligations and the reasonable salary rule. Before making the election, you should consult with a CPA or a tax advisor to determine if an S corporation is right for you and how to set it up properly.
Investopedia. (2023, April 15). What Is an S Corp? Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subchapters.asp
Internal Revenue Service. (2023, February 7). S Corporations. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/s-corporations
Forbes Advisor. (2022, December 14). What Is an S Corp? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/s-corporation/Forbes Advisor. (2022, December 14). Starting An S-Corp. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/start-an-s-corporation/

Disclaimer:The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed as such. You should consult with a qualified attorney before taking any action based on the information on this article. We are not attorneys and we do not provide legal services or representation. We do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We are not responsible for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of or reliance on the information in this article.
The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility. Skip to content