What are the tax consequences of business distributions?

A business can distribute cash or property to its owners. The tax consequences of the distribution to the owner will depend on the type of business entity that is involved. Distributions are sometimes included in the taxable income of the owner and sometimes not. Additionally, it is important to understand the impact of a distribution on an owner's tax basis. Although myriad business entities exist, the following types will be discussed here: C corporations, S corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), limited partnerships (LPs), and professional corporations (PCs).

Impact on specific business entities

Tax treatment will vary, depending on the type of business entity you select.

C corporations
C corporations may distribute money or property to shareholders. The method used to make a corporate distribution will determine the tax consequences of the withdrawal. You need to be aware of the following concepts:

  • Dividends
  • Return of capital
  • Wages for services
  • Fringe benefits
  • Loans
  • Rent payments

S corporations
Calculation of the amount that can be distributed from an S corporation without current tax consequences is somewhat complicated. It involves an analysis of the relationship between income, basis, and distributions.

You should be aware of how withdrawals from a partnership affect your basis in the partnership and of the extent to which these withdrawals may be taxable.

Sole proprietorships
Sole proprietorships

Limited liability companies (LLC)
LLCs generally follow the same distribution rules as general partnerships.

Limited liability partnerships (LLP)
Like limited liability companies, LLPs generally follow the same distribution rules as general partnerships.

Limited partnerships (LP)
LPs generally follow the same distribution rules as general partnerships.

Professional corporations (PC)
PCs generally follow the same distribution rules as C corporations.

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
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