Deeper Dive into Single Member Limited Liability Companies

Deeper Dive into Single Member Limited Liability CompaniesEntity classification

LLCs with two or more members can be treated as a partnership or corporation for tax purposes. An LLC with one owner or single member limited liability company (SMLLC) can choose to be treated as a corporation or a “disregarded entity.”

The member of a SMLLC who wishes to be treated as corporation for tax purposes must file either Form 8832 to be treated as a ‘C’ Corporation or Form 2553 to elect classification as an ‘S’ Corporation. Where an individual does not file Forms 8832 or 2553 to elect to be treated as a corporation, the IRS will treat the LLC as a disregarded entity and it will be taxed as a sole proprietorship.

Tax treatment

By default, the IRS treats a SMLLC as a “disregarded entity.” This means the IRS will not look at a SMLLC as an entity separate from its sole member for the purpose of filing tax returns. Instead, similar to a sole proprietorship, the IRS will disregard the SMLLC and the member will report income and expenses and pay taxes for the business as part of his or her own personal tax return. Taxable income or loss generated by an operating business will be reported on Schedule C, while rental income will be reported on Schedule E. Since the ultimate responsibility for paying taxes on income generated by a SMLLC is passed through to the member, this way of taxing profits is called pass-through taxation.

Profits earned

As a disregarded entity, if the SMLLC has taxable profits for a given year, the sole member is required to pay taxes on that profit, regardless of whether the profits are actually distributed to the member. It is not relevant whether a member of a SMLLC leaves the profits in the business bank account or withdraws the money. Regardless, all income or loss are reported by the SMLLC owner for income taxation.

Example

Steve’s SMLLC, which owns rental real estate, earned $25,000 this year after expenses and depreciation. Steve decides that he doesn’t need the money and will leave the entire $25,000 in his business checking account to use next year. Steve will have to report and pay tax on the full $25,000.

SMLLC to partnership

There are instances when a SMLLC ceases to be a disregarded entity. One instance this is accomplished is through the addition of one or more new members to the limited liability company. The LLC’s tax reporting after an additional member is admitted no longer is reflected on Schedules C or E of the former sole member. The entity has become a multi-member limited liability company and must obtain an Employer Identification Number and file a partnership return.

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