A limited-liability company ("LLC") is commonly referred to as a "hybrid" business structure, meaning that it shares characteristics of both a corporation and a sole proprietorship. It allows its owners to insulate themselves from personal liability for business debts, does not require the payment of separate business taxes (the tax "passes through" to its owners), allows for a great deal of flexibility with regards to its organizational structure, and is subject to fewer regulations and restrictions than are other types of business structures. Establishing such a company in Wisconsin is a rather straightforward process.
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LLCs are typically taxed on a pass through basis, much like general partnerships. As pass through entities, the profits and losses of LLCs are passed on to the individual owners and are reflected on the owner’s personal income tax returns. Alternatively, LLCS may elect to be taxed as S corporations to potentially reduce the self-employment taxes imposed on the owners.
For businesses in industries like construction or real estate, where unforeseen circumstances and hazardous conditions may hold the owner responsible, consider starting an LLC. The protection gained means you will not be held personally liable, protecting you and your family from litigation or the debts of the business. An LLC may not be the best choice for business owners who plan on raising capital through outside investment. LLCs are not public structures and do not have shareholders, so taking a company public is not an option either. However, in the event that you'd like to take your business public you may switch to a public legal structure, like a C corporation, later on.
The articles of organization also should include information about how your LLC will be managed. You need to indicate whether the members of the LLC will do hands-on management or if there will be hired management. Another requirement is to discuss how long the LLC will be in existence (there is no limit on this, so it is fine to say in perpetuity).
Depending on elections made by the LLC and the number of members, the IRS will treat an LLC as either a corporation, partnership, or as part of the LLC’s owner’s tax return (a “disregarded entity”). Specifically, a domestic LLC with at least two members is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes unless it files Form 8832 and affirmatively elects to be treated as a corporation. For income tax purposes, an LLC with only one member is treated as an entity disregarded as separate from its owner, unless it files Form 8832 and elects to be treated as a corporation. However, for purposes of employment tax and certain excise taxes, an LLC with only one member is still considered a separate entity.
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