S Corporation Definition
As a separate legal entity, the corporation finances and records are established and maintained completely separate and distinct from the finances and records of the stockholders. Through a resolution adopted at a stockholders meeting held in accordance with the bylaws of the corporation, one or more officers or employees of the corporation are authorized to conduct business on behalf of the corporation. The resolution typically includes an authorization with specified limits to borrow and repay funds as needed for business operations. Credit arrangements are made in the name of the corporation with loan documents signed by the authorized person or persons after the lender has received a certified copy of the authorizing resolution. If the corporation is newly formed, small (has few assets), or has a limited record of credit use, it's likely that a lender will require personal guarantees by one or more officers or stockholders before approving a credit application received from the corporation. If personal guarantees are given, the signer(s) usually have unlimited liability for the debts of the corporation.
An S corporation can issue only one class of stock. Prior to January 1, 1997, an S corporation can have no more than 35 stockholders. In tax years beginning after December 31, 1996, the maximum number of eligible stockholders is increased from 35 to 75. Nonresident aliens, self-directed IRAs, some types of corporations, partnerships, and some types of trustees presently cannot hold stock in an S corporation and will continue to be ineligible after December 31, 1996. However, in tax years beginning after that date, a qualified retirement plan trust or a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation may be S corporation stockholder. Other restrictions on stockholder eligibility apply under some circumstances. Your attorney can determine whether any of these restrictions apply in your situation.
After December 31, 1996 a testamentary trust can hold S corporation stock for up to two years from the date of the grantor's death. (Prior to January 1, 1997, the holding period is 60 days.) Generally, this change will make it easier to settle an estate where a testamentary trust is established and receives S corporation stock in the estate settlement process. Consult your attorney for advice and guidance on applications of this longer holding period to the administration of any testamentary trust that receives S corporation stock.