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Matthew Brust is an associate in the Business & Tax Department at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. in Fort Myers, Florida. He focuses his practice in business organization operations and planning, mergers and acquisitions, and federal and state taxation. Matthew enjoys working with business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups explaining the most tax-efficient methods to implement their business needs and goals, and then guiding them to the best possible legal outcome for their unique situation.

new businessWhat if I were to tell you, you could be both an LLC and an S-corporation and still be considered one single business entity?

An S-corporation is not a state law entity designation, similar to a Florida corporation or a Florida limited liability company. However, an S-corporation is merely a federal income tax classification made on a specific Internal Revenue Service form (Form 2553). Thus, one can form a Florida limited liability company (“LLC”) and elect to be an S-corporation for federal income tax purposes with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).

Who is eligible to make the election?

Generally, the entity wishing to make the election needs to be a domestic corporation or an LLC. However, certain types of businesses are ineligible to make the election, such as insurance companies or financial institutions. In addition, the entity must have eligible shareholders, meaning the owners of the entity must meet specific requirements of the Tax Code.

Who can be an eligible shareholder?

shareholderAn eligible shareholder can be an individual (other than non-resident alien), estates, certain trusts, certain qualified retirement trusts, or charitable organizations. More specifically:

  • So long as the individual is not a non-resident alien, individuals are eligible S-corporation shareholders. Individuals may co-own an S-corporation with other individuals, such as husband and wife, as joint tenants by the entirety.
  • If an individual shareholder declares bankruptcy, the bankruptcy estate is a permissible S-corporation shareholder. If an individual shareholder passes away, their estate is an eligible S-corporation shareholder, as well.
  • Testamentary Trusts. These trusts become effective upon the death of a shareholder and hence become eligible to be an S-corporation shareholder.
  • Voting Trusts. Shareholders may create these trusts to temporarily transfer their shares to the trustee to combine their voting power. Voting trusts are eligible to be S-corporation shareholders.
  • Qualified Subchapter S Trust (“QSST”). A QSST is an eligible S-Corporation shareholder if it meets specific rigid requirements.
  • Small Business Trust (“ESBT”). An ESBT is a trust for beneficiaries that are all eligible s-corporation shareholders that acquired their trust interest by lifetime gifts or upon the death of an owner. These are more flexible trusts than the QSST described above.

Coming back to the opening question of an LLC or an S-corporation, so long as the individuals forming the LLC are eligible shareholders described above, the LLC can make the election treated as an S-corporation.

When to make the election?


Continue Reading Should I start my new business as an LLC or S-Corporation?

Launching your own business is a huge decision, one not to take lightly. From developing your product or service and getting funding to taking measures to protect your business, entrepreneurs must do their homework. As a business and tax attorney, one question I often hear is:

What is the best way to set up a new business?”

While the answer varies depending on the goals of each client, an LLC is often chosen.

What is an LLC?

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a U.S. business structure that combines the simplicity, flexibility, and tax advantages of a partnership with the personal liability protection of a corporation. The owners of LLCs are called members. An LLC can have one or many members. Members can be individuals or other businesses, and there is no limit to the number of members an LLC can have. With an LLC structure, members’ personal assets are protected from the LLC’s creditors. LLCs are more cost effective and simpler to form than a corporation. This, in addition to the discussion below, has led to LLCs becoming the ‘go-to’ business structure to form.

Who should form an LLC?


Continue Reading What is an LLC and why do I need one?