Tag Archive | "Incorporation"

Starting a Business – Forming a Corporation

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Starting a Business – Forming a Corporation


A corporation is an entity created under statute that is separate and distinct from its owners. In other words, a corporation can be created only by following the requirements of the relevant statute (in Indiana, it is the Indiana Business Corporation Law) and will not automatically be created (as can be the case with some partnerships). Once formed, the corporation is recognized as being independent from you, the owner/shareholder. The corporation is managed by directors and officers; sometimes, the directors and officers are also the shareholders. From a liability standpoint, the corporation affords you complete protection; creditors must rely on the assets of the corporation and you are notpersonally liable for anything beyond your investment and financial commitment to the corporation.

That said, lenders frequently require shareholders of smaller corporations to personally guarantee the debt of the corporation. Corporations are the most complex entities, both in terms of creation and operation. In addition to filing articles of incorporation, corporations need to adopt by-laws, elect directors and officers, and in many states, have regular meetings. There may also be annual reporting requirements with the Secretary of State in addition to annual fees.

The shares of a corporation are freely transferable and unlike a partnership or limited liability company, the transferee of yourshares will succeed to all of your rights in those shares. In other words, the person to whom you transfer your shares will be just as much an owner of the corporation as you were. This ease of transferability can have significant impact later on as you begin to implement exit strategies (that is, you are ready to retire from
the enterprise).

From a tax perspective, corporations can also be more complex than their partnership and limited liability company counterparts. Usually, a corporation is a separate taxable entity. It pays tax on its income and later, when it distributes accumulated income to the shareholders, the shareholders will pay a second layer of income tax on those dividends. This “double taxation” is a significant drawback for most corporations. There is a special type of corporation (commonly referred to as an “S” corporation) that generally is not subject to double taxation. An “S” corporation allocates income and losses on a pro-rata basis to its shareholders, although the use of losses by a shareholder is limited to that shareholder’s basis in the corporation. You must strictly adhere to rigid equirements imposed on “S” corporations, and shareholders sometimes are surprised by how easy it is to terminate an existing “S” election inadvertently.

Occasionally, a business owner might intentionally choose the double taxation of a regular corporation to take advantage of certain corporate tax benefits. For instance, while partners in a partnership cannot be employees of that partnership, shareholders in a corporation can be employees; as a result, these shareholders can participate in certain fringe benefits extended to “employees” under the federal tax law, such as flexible spending accounts. Other examples include (i) the ability of a corporation to participate in tax-advantaged reorganizations unavailable to partnerships and limited liability companies and (ii) the potential for up to $50,000 ($100,000 on a Married Filing Joint Return) of losses from the sale, exchange, or worthlessness of certain small business corporation stock to qualify for ordinary loss treatment (as opposed to capital loss treatment).

As you can see from this post and my prior business entity selection and formation posts, a good deal of thought and care must go into your decision of what type of legal form your new business should take. Quite often, the advantages of one form will be offset by disadvantages not present in another. As mentioned, within similar types of legal forms, nuances exist that make the decision all the more difficult. By identifying the right combination of advantages and disadvantages and with the assistance of competent advisors, the right choice of entity selection can help ensure your business success.

Check back soon for a post regarding limited liability companies.

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Starting a Business – Choosing The Type of Business to Form

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Starting a Business – Choosing The Type of Business to Form


So, you have come up with the next great idea and you are ready to begin building your fortunes. One of the first questions you should ask is “what type of business should I be,” or as we lawyer-types put it, “what choice of business entity should you make”? Choosing the proper legal entity with which to conduct business is one of the most important decisions a business owner faces. This early decision will determine myriad other issues including responsibility for tortious acts, complexity of the entity, ability to transfer interests in the entity, ease of additional capital infusions, protection of intellectual property, and, of course, liability for the payment of taxes, to name just a few.

Business Entity Selection

So many choices - will you make the right one?

The list of available entity forms is fairly extensive. From the more traditional corporations and partnerships to the more exotic state business trusts and conduits, it seems there is a form for everyone, and in most cases, multiple forms. In some instances, it may be appropriate to forego a separate entity and conduct your business as a sole proprietorship. In a sole proprietorship, the business is conducted in the owner’s individual capacity. Perhaps intuitively, a sole proprietorship offers no protection from liability, but it is the simplest way to conduct business. Generally, no separate documents or records need to be filed with any governmental authority, including the Internal Revenue Service.When a business owner wants to sell his or her sole proprietorship, it will always be a sale of the underlying business assets.

Future blog entries in this series will focusing on the three most common types of entities — partnerships,limited liability companies, and corporations.  Each of these has important characteristics that distinguish one from the others. By recognizing these differences, you can begin to highlight the factors that will influence your decision on which form of entity to select.

Check back in a few days for a discussion regarding corporations.


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Thinking about incorporating your business?  Look no further than your home state.

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Thinking about incorporating your business? Look no further than your home state.


Entrepreneurs and startups very commonly have questions about what state they should incorporate / organize their business. Lots of people are under the impression that you need to incorporate in Delaware or Nevada.  Delaware has a very well developed set of case law that tends to favor certain publicly held companies, but in general it of very little benefit to a startup.  Nevada holds itself out as having great tax benefits, but those are difficult to take advantage of unless you are doing business primarily in Nevada.  99 times out of 100, I advise entrepreneurs to incorporate in their home state.  A few more informational tidbits:

  • In Indiana, where I practice law, the filing fees for incorporating a business are inexpensive and the process is relatively straightforward – not the case in popular states such as Delaware and Nevada.
  • Attorneys in your home state, if you are using an attorney (hopefully you are), will be more familiar with your state incorporation laws.
  • Your company may qualify for an intrastate securities law exemption in the event it offers securities for sale.
  • There is no need to register as a foriegn entity in your home state – and added expense if you incorporate elsewhere.

There are many other concerns that should be addressed when determining in what state you should incorporate – concerns you should address with a corporate attorney in your home state.

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When is the Right Time to Incorporate Your Business?

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When is the Right Time to Incorporate Your Business?


iStock_000001291947XSmallI work with start-ups and entrepeneurs in my law practice all time – one common question / concern I get from my clients is regarding the right time to organize / incorporate their business into a formal, legal business entity.  Some ask because they are trying to save the money associated with the process until they know that their business will be a forward concern, some ask just out of general curiosity.

As a rule of thumb, I typically tell clients they need to form a legal entity separate from themselves anytime (1) there is more than one founder or (2) the business is about to engage ANY sort of third party for ANYTHING.  The first point is obviously based on the need to put down pre-incorporation/organization agreement in writing (i.e. avoid arguments and conflicts among founders), the second based on the need to shield potential liability.

I came across an excellent posting on this topic by Yoichiro (”Yokum”) Taku, a west coast attorney who maintains StartupCompanyLawyer.com.  He has some points that expand nicely upon my second rule of thumb above, some of which I have included below:

Funding.  Obviously, if third party investors want to invest in a startup idea, there needs to be an entity to accept the investment.  Generally, I prefer to incorporate and issue founder’s stock at nominal prices well in advance of a Series A preferred stock financing because it is difficult to justify that common stock should be priced at $0.001 per share while Series A preferred stock is issued at $1.00 per share.

Launching a service/product and general liability issues.  One important reason for incorporating a company is to protect the stockholders against personal liability.  If a company complies with corporate formalities, creditors of the company generally cannot reach the stockholders to satisfy the company’s liabilities.  Thus, a company should generally incorporate before launching a product or a service due to potential liability issues, as the risk of liability to a founder increases with customers or users.

Hiring employees or third party contractors.  Although I’ve run into a situation where the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company personally paid an “employee” out of his own pocket for a year prior to incorporation while incubating an idea, most founders will need to incorporate a company if they intend to hire employees.  In addition, if an entrepreneur needs to engage third party contractors, it generally makes sense to incorporate a company so that the third party enters into an agreement with a company instead of an individual.  In addition, any IP created by the contractor can be assigned to the company instead of an individual founder.

You can find the original posting here.

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What state should your business incoporate in?

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What state should your business incoporate in?


Martin Zwilling over at Startupprofessionals.com has a nice post regarding why start-up busineses should consider incorporating / organizing their business in their home state.  The post can be found here, but here is a brief summary:

  • Don’t automatically flock to incorporating in Delaware.  Sure there might still be some advantages to doing so, but they don’t really apply to start-ups.
  • In Indiana, where I practice law, the filing fees for incorporating a business are inexpensive and the process is relatively straightforward – not the case in popular states such as Delaware and Nevada.
  • Attorneys in your home state, if you are using an attorney (hopefully you are), will be more familiar with your state incorporation laws.
  • Your company may qualify for an intrastate securities law exemption in the event it offers securities for sale.
  • There is no need to register as a foriegn entity in your home state – and added expense if you incorporate elsewhere.

As he points out, there are many other concerns that should be addressed when determining in what state you should incorporate – concerns you should address with a corporate attorney in your home state.

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