How to Change a Corporation to an LLC? (Detailed Guide)

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: February 6, 2024
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Transitioning your business from a corporation to a limited liability company (LLC) involves careful consideration and meticulous planning.

With a wealth of experience as a business consultant, I've dedicated extensive time to research and consult on the nuances of corporate and LLC structures, state laws, and expert opinions to create a detailed guide for entrepreneurs facing this transition.

Through comprehensive study and professional consultations, the guide is designed to be an authoritative resource for business owners seeking to navigate the intricacies of this transition effectively.

Quick Summary

  • To convert a corporation to an LLC, evaluate the business structure, obtain shareholder approval, and amend articles of organization.
  • Consider eligibility, legal and tax implications, and impact on ownership and shareholders before the conversion process. 
  • The advantages of converting a corporation to an LLC include limited liability protection and operational flexibility.
  • While undergoing the conversion process from a C corporation to an LLC, it is important to understand its tax benefits and tax consequences.


Steps to Change a Corporation to an LLC

Two woman planning to convert from a corporation to an LLC

From my vast practical experience, changing a corporation to an LLC involves several key steps.

Here are 8 steps you’ll need to follow:

1. Evaluate the Business Structure and Plan for Conversion

To change a corporation to an LLC, start by evaluating your current business structure and determining if a conversion to an LLC is the right choice.

Consider the benefits of an LLC, such as limited liability protection and flexibility in taxation.

For our LLC, we planned the conversion process, including the timeline and potential implications for shareholders and our business.

2. Obtain Shareholder Approval and Draft Resolutions

The second step is to obtain shareholder approval for the conversion by holding a meeting and presenting the benefits and reasons for the change.

You’ll also draft resolutions documenting the approval and decision to convert from a corporation to an LLC.

During this process, we ensured compliance with any corporate bylaws and shareholder agreements.

3. Amend the Articles of Organization/Incorporation

Amend the Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation to reflect the change from a corporation to an LLC.

We recommend preparing the necessary documents, including the amendment, and ensuring they comply with state requirements. Include details such as the new LLC name, purpose, and management structure.

4. Prepare an Operating Agreement

Draft an LLC operating agreement outlining the rights and responsibilities of LLC members.

Address important aspects such as LLC capital contributions, profit sharing, decision-making processes, and member withdrawal or buyout provisions.

In our case, the operating agreement generally provided a framework for the LLC's operations and helped ensure a smooth transition.

5. File Conversion Documents with the Secretary of State

File the necessary conversion documents with the Secretary of State or the appropriate state agency.

This typically includes submitting the amended Articles of Organization/Incorporation and any required forms and filing fees.

6. Update Licenses, Permits, and Registrations

Review and update any licenses, permits, and registrations held by the corporation.

Update these documents to reflect the new LLC structure.

For our company, we contacted the relevant authorities, including the state and local agencies and professional licensing boards, to inform them of the conversion and we completed any required paperwork and payments.

7. Notify Stakeholders and Update Contracts and Agreements

Notify stakeholders, including clients, vendors, and business partners, about the conversion to an LLC.

Update contracts, agreements, and legal documents to reflect the new entity.

Review and revise agreements related to leases, loans, insurance policies, and employment contracts as necessary.

8. Comply with Tax Requirements and Obtain New EIN (if necessary)

Consult a tax professional to understand the tax implications of converting to an LLC. Determine if you need to obtain a new EIN for the LLC.

Update your tax records, including notifying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the conversion.

What You Should Keep In Mind Before Converting From a Corporation to an LLC

Two woman planning to convert from a corporation to an LLC

Here are what you should keep in mind before converting a corporation to an LLC:

1. Eligibility of Conversion of the Corporation

First, you must ensure that your business is eligible to convert from a corporation to an LLC.

To do so, it must meet the following criteria:

  • The business must be organized as a corporation under state law
  • The business must have only one owner
  • The business must be in good standing with the state

Converting a corporation to an LLC may involve potential tax consequences and legal implications that you must carefully evaluate.

You’ll have to check if the corporation complies with state laws and regulations governing the conversion.

3. Impact on Ownership Interests and Shareholders

Shareholders of the corporation may receive LLC membership interests in exchange for their existing shares.

Assessing how this conversion affects the ownership structure, voting rights, and any restrictions or agreements related to shareholders' interests is crucial.

4. State-Specific Conversion Requirements

Each state may have specific requirements for converting a corporation to a new LLC.

Understanding and complying with the statutory conversion process applicable in the relevant jurisdiction is essential.

This may involve filing conversion documents with the state authorities, updating corporate records, and adhering to any additional procedural steps outlined by the state.

Three Types of Conversions

There are three types of conversion process options when changing your business entity from a corporation to a new LLC:

  • Asset Conversion - This is the simplest type of conversion, and it involves transferring all of your corporation's assets to your new LLC
  • Share Exchange - In this type of conversion, the shareholders of your corporation exchange their shares for shares in the new LLC
  • Stock Transfer - This is the most complex type of conversion, and it involves transferring the ownership of your corporation's stock to the new LLC

Important Tax Considerations

A man in front of his computer thinking thoroughly

Converting a C corporation to an LLC allows for pass-through taxation [1].

This means income and losses are reported by members on their tax returns, potentially avoiding double taxation.

However, to benefit from this, the LLC must be recognized as a partnership or S corporation, cannot employ non-members, and must handle annual information returns and self-employment taxes on business income.

Potential Advantages of Converting to an LLC

A big building beside a small building

Drawing from my experience, the conversion process to an LLC can provide various benefits, making it an appealing option for many companies.

Let's explore these advantages in detail:

1. Limited Liability Protection

Converting to an LLC provides limited liability protection, safeguarding shareholders' personal assets from the company's debts and obligations across most states, including those operating under Delaware law.

Shareholders' liability is typically limited to their investment in the LLC.

2. Flexible Taxation Options

By default, an LLC is treated as a pass-through entity for tax purposes, meaning that the limited liability company itself does not pay taxes.

However, limited liability companies also have the option to choose corporate taxation if it aligns better with their financial goals and circumstances.

3. Ease of Compliance and Reporting

Converting to an LLC from a small business can simplify compliance and reporting requirements.

LLCs generally have fewer regulatory obligations compared to corporations. They often face fewer annual filing requirements and fewer ongoing reporting obligations.

FAQs

What Is the Difference Between a Corporation and an LLC?

The difference between a corporation and an LLC lies in their legal structure and governance. A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, offering limited liability protection and the ability to issue stock. On the other hand, an LLC combines a corporation's limited liability feature with a partnership's flexibility.

How Does Converting to an LLC Affect My Company's Tax Status?

Converting a corporation to an LLC can significantly change your company's tax status by enabling pass-through taxation. This means profits and losses are passed directly to the owners and reported on their personal tax returns, potentially avoiding the double taxation commonly faced by C corporations.

Will Converting My Corporation to an LLC Affect My Existing Business Contracts and Relationships?

Yes, converting a corporation to an LLC can affect your existing business contracts and relationships. Since the conversion changes the legal entity that is a party to the contracts, it may require renegotiation or at least notification to the other parties involved.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/pass-through_taxation

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