By Teela McCullar firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that business owners have had some time to digest the impacts of the 2017 Tax Act, some may be wondering if changing to a C corporation would give them a greater tax benefit with the reduced flat tax of 21%. Owners of an S corporation or partnership could potentially be taxed as high as an effective tax rate of 29.6% on their pass-through business income.
However, there are still some downsides to being a C corporation that should be considered.
One of the biggest downsides to a C Corp is double taxation. Though the impact is not as severe as it once was with the reduced tax rate, there is no getting around having the earnings of the corporation taxed twice: once within the corporation and again should the owner decided to take a dividend. Right now, for someone at the highest individual tax bracket, the maximum combined effective federal income tax they would pay on dividends received by their C Corporation would be 39.8%. Under the prior tax law this could have been as high as 50.47%.
Additionally, C Corps are not the best entity choice for a business that expects to incur losses. A C Corp cannot deduct losses and while they do carry forward, other entity types such as an S Corp or a partnership do allow owners to deduct losses in certain circumstances.
C Corps also are not a good entity type for any business that is holding assets that are likely to appreciate like real estate or intangibles (such as a patent or software). Again, this is due to double taxation. Should the corporation sell these appreciated assets, they will pay tax on the gain at the C Corp level and the owner will pay tax if they desire to pull out some of the proceeds.
Finally, though the C Corp tax rate reduction to 21% was considered “permanent”, there is already talk that the corporate tax rate will be on the chopping block should the office of the presidency switch parties in 2020. While a complete rollback of the 2018 tax law is unlikely, some of the Democratic presidential candidates have suggested increasing the corporate rate gradually to at least 28%. This rate would be even higher than it was prior to the tax law change where the minimum corporate tax rate started at 15% and went up from there.
All of these factors should be considered along with having your CPA running the numbers to see if a C Corporation makes sense for you.