The partnership is a conduit for income and is not taxed as a separate entity. Individual partners are taxed, and although limited by the 1986 Tax Reform Act, they can deduct partnership losses. Corporate earnings, on the other hand, are subject to double taxation. The corporation is first taxed on its own earnings as an entity. Then, when profits are distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends, the shareholders are taxed again. (A small corporation, with no more than one hundred shareholders, can elect S corporation status. Because S corporations are taxed as partnerships, they avoid double taxation.) However, incorporating brings several tax benefits. For example, the corporation can take deductions for life, medical, and disability insurance coverage for its employees, whereas partners or sole proprietors cannot.
Partnerships are easier to form than corporations, especially since no documents are required. General partners share both ownership and control, but in publicly held corporations, these functions are separated. Additional benefits for a partnership include flexibility in financing, single taxation, and the ability to deduct losses. Transfer of interest in a partnership can be difficult if not addressed in the initial agreement, since all partners must consent to the transfer.
- Provide an example of when it would be best to form a partnership, and cite the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
- Provide an example of when it would be best to form a corporation, and cite the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.