The current economic environment is highly competitive. It is more important than ever that businesses have the right legal structure in place. An LLC might be the right entity for your California business. Indeed, there are many reasons to select an LLC as a business entity. However, an LLC is not the right business entity for every situation. In California, certain types of businesses cannot lawfully operate as an LLC. Here, our Fremont business formation lawyer highlights the key things to know if you are trying to determine if an LLC is the right entity for your company.
Know the Benefits of Forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC)
As explained by the California Franchise Tax Board, a limited liability company is a type of business entity that “blends partnership and corporate structures.” There are a number of different potential advantages to operating as an LLC, including:
- Ease of set up: It is relatively easy and cost-effective to set up an LLC in California. You will have to select a name for your LLC, complete form LLC-1 and submit it to the Secretary of State and pay California’s annual LLC tax. There are minimal other requirements, including annual compliance costs.
- Liability protection: Perhaps the primary benefit of an LLC is that it offers strong liability protection. As a member of an LLC in California, your personal assets can be protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. There are limited exceptions, similar to a corporation.
- Flexibility: A California LLC is a fundamentally flexible business structure. You can effectively structure your company in the way you feel works best—profits, financial obligations, and voting rights can be split however you and the other members desire.
It is highly recommended that you have a professionally drafted operating agreement for your LLC. A well-crafted agreement will ensure that your rights and interests are properly protected.
California Law: Not All Businesses Can Operate as LLCs
It is important to emphasize that not every type of business can operate as an LLC in California. In fact, most licensed-businesses cannot be structured as an LLC. While there are limited exceptions, you should always consult with an experienced Bay Area business lawyer before moving forward. California law is evolving and certain CSLB, service businesses and home health care businesses can now be structured as LLCs.
For certain types of licensed professionals (lawyers, accountants, architects, etc.), an alternative type of business entity called a limited liability partnership (LLP) is an option. If you have any questions about forming an LLP, our Fremont, CA business formation lawyer can help.
LLCs are Not the Right Entity for Every Business
Even if your specific type of company can operate an LLC in California, it may still not be the best option for your needs. While LLCs offer some strong advantages—low administrative costs, liability protection, flexibility, etc.—there are also some downsides.
Most notably, an LLC operates as a pass-through entity for tax purposes. There will be a self-employment tax for LLC members. For this and other reasons, LLCs are generally not the best option for companies holding significant inventory, leasing expensive commercial space, or that have high overhead costs.
Consult With a Business Lawyer in the Bay Area
Lynnette Ariathurai is an experienced, solutions-driven business formation lawyer. If you have any questions about whether an LLC is the right entity for your business, please contact us today. We serve communities throughout the area, including Fremont, Newark, Union City, East Bay, Milpitas, San Leandro, Santa Clara, Hayward, and San Jose.