Massachusetts S Corporation
Advantages and Disadvantages

Massachusetts S Corporation Advantages and Disadvantages

Massachusetts S Corporation:

The main advantage associated with the S Corporation is that the income passes through to the shareholders, therefore avoiding a perceived double taxation of a C-Corporation.

Should I form a Massachusetts S Corporation?

The S Corporation:

An "S Corporation" is a corporation that elects to be taxed under Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code (enacted in 1958 and periodically amended) and receives IRS approval of its request for Subchapter S status. As a legal entity (an artificial person), the S Corporation is separate and distinct from the corporation's owners (the stockholders).

Massachusetts S Corporation
Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of the S Corporation:

  • The independent life of the corporation makes possible its continuation, and the relatively undisturbed continued operation of the business regardless of incapacity or death of one or more stockholders.

  • Fractional ownership shares are easily accommodated in the initial offering of stock.

  • The purchase, sale, and gifting of stock make it possible to have changes in ownership without disturbing the corporation's ability to conduct business.

  • The requirement that the corporation's finances and records be separate from the finances and records of stockholders reduces the risk of unrecognized equity liquidations.

  • With only a few exceptions, under the Subchapter S election for taxation as a partnership the S corporation pays no income taxes and corporation income or loss is passed through direct to the stockholders.

  • To the extent the corporate shield is maintained and other investments and savings of the stockholders are not at risk, the personal life of stockholders is simplified.

  • The annual meetings of stockholders and consultations with legal counsel can provide stimulus for improved communication within the stockholder group (often a family group) and can provide more comprehensive guidance for management.

  • Depending on the corporation's business record and the policies and practices of prospective lenders, access to credit and the ability to secure needed resources may be improved.

  • Earnings representing "return on investment" (interest, rental payments, etc.) are not subject to self-employment tax as long as stockholder-employees receive adequate compensation for labor and management of the business.

Disadvantages of the S Corporation:

  • Lenders may require personal guarantees from corporate officers as a condition of supplying credit, thus negating the limitation of liability.

  • Conflicts or disagreements among the stockholders may immobilize decision making.

  • Restrictions on the sale of stock and/or buy-back agreements included in the bylaws may prevent minority stockholders from being able to recover the value of their investment in the corporation.

  • Through the processes of gifting and inheritance, stock ownership can become divided among many persons who are not active in the business and they may become a voting block that does not support needs and decisions believed desirable by managing stockholders.

  • Over time, corporation paid benefits for stockholder-employees may become costly and exceed the ability of the business to pay.

  • Employment benefits such as life insurance, health insurance, and housing costs are taxable income to stockholder employees with 2 percent or more stock ownership and to employees who are directly related to persons owning 2 percent or more of the corporation stock.

  • If appreciated assets are owned by the corporation and the corporation is dissolved, significant income taxes on the appreciation amount will be generated.

Massachusetts' 2011 Business Tax Climate Ranks 32nd

Massachusetts ranks 32nd in the Tax State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes; individual income taxes; sales taxes; unemployment insurance taxes; and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property. Neighboring states ranked as follows: Rhode Island (42nd), Connecticut (47th), New York (50th), New Hampshire (7th) and Vermont (38th).

Massachusetts' Individual Income Tax System

Massachusetts' personal income tax system consists of a flat rate of 5.3% on most personal income. This rate ranks 31st highest among states that levy an income tax. Massachusetts' 2008 state-level individual income tax collections were $1,916 per person, which was the 2nd highest in the nation.

Massachusetts' Corporate Income Tax System

Massachusetts' corporate tax structure consists of a flat rate of 8.8% on all corporate income. Among states levying corporate income taxes, Massachusetts' rate ranks 9th highest nationally. In 2008, state-level corporate tax collections (excluding local taxes) were $334 per capita, which ranked 4th highest nationally.

Massachusetts Property Taxes among Nation's Highest

Massachusetts is one of the 37 states that collect property taxes at both the state and local levels. As in most states, local governments collect far more. Massachusetts' localities collected $1,683.66 per capita in property taxes in fiscal year 2006, which is the latest year that the Census Bureau published state-by-state data. Despite a well-known property tax limitation measure passed in the early 1980s, Proposition 2 1/2, Massachusetts' combined state/local property taxes are the 8th highest in the nation per capita. High levels of collections have been possible because the limitations in law are relatively easy to override locally. At the state level, Massachusetts collected a mere $0.01 per capita during FY 2006, making its combined state/local property taxes $1,683.67 per capita.

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