LLC Advantages and Disadvantages (In-Depth Guide)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: March 8, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
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A limited liability company (LLC) is a business structure that provides limited personal liability to its owners.

This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business.

An LLC can be an excellent option for business owners who want the limited liability protection of a corporation without the formalities and red tape.

While limited liability is a key advantage of LLCs, there are a few downsides to consider before forming this company.

Quick Summary

  • LLCs offer personal asset protection, shielding owners from being personally liable for business debts and legal actions, a key advantage for risk management.
  • A disadvantage of LLCs is the potential for varied state-level fees and regulations, which can complicate operations and increase costs for businesses operating in multiple states.
  • According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2023, there was a significant surge in interest in LLCs, with a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications filed, showcasing their growing popularity.
  • Personally, I believe the flexibility and protection offered by LLCs outweigh their downsides, making them a smart choice for many entrepreneurs despite the potential for increased costs and administrative requirements.


LLC Advantages

A paperwork about the advantages of LLC

Personal Liability Protection

One of the most significant advantages of an LLC is its personal liability protection. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for any business debts or lawsuits that the business may incur.

It is a considerable advantage for protecting your assets, and it's one of the main reasons why so many business owners choose to form an LLC.

Limited Liability

Another advantage of an LLC is that it offers limited liability.

This means that the owners of an LLC are not responsible for any debts or lawsuits that the business may incur beyond the amount of money they have invested in the company.

It is a major advantage when it comes to protecting your personal assets, as it can help you avoid losing everything that you have.

Simple Taxes

Another advantage is the relatively simple taxes involved with an LLC. As per the IRS, you do not have to file separate taxes for your business, which means you only file one tax return every year, thus saving time and money [1].

My clients report that this streamlined approach has not only saved them a considerable amount of time but also reduced their accounting expenses.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2023, there were a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications filed, indicating a significant interest in structures like LLCs due to their tax benefits [2].

Pass-Through Taxation

The most significant advantage of an LLC is pass-through taxation. This means that profits from the LLC, according to Cornell Law School, are only taxed at the individual level, which is a huge benefit compared to other business structures like a corporation [3].

Last year, for example, my client was able to integrate his business profits directly into his personal tax return, avoiding the double taxation common in corporations.

Pass-through taxation makes limited liability companies extremely tax-efficient.

In 2021, the IRS received more than 2.2 million tax returns registered as LLCs as compared to the 2.9 million submitted by S Corps, highlighting the growing preference for LLCs due to their tax advantages [4].

LLC Disadvantages

Concept of having too many paper works

Not an Option for Some Businesses

There are many reasons why an LLC might not be the best option for a business. For example, some companies may be too large or have too much liability to be registered as LLCs.

Also, a limited liability company is a pass-through entity, meaning that profits and losses are passed on to the individual members.

While this can be beneficial, it also means that some tax benefits are not available to LLCs.

Another factor is the management structure of a limited liability company. An LLC has three types of management structures: member-managed, manager-managed, and hybrid.

A manager-managed structure allows managers who do not have a direct ownership interest in the LLC to manage the company, which could be beneficial if you want a small group of involved managers who manage the company but do not necessarily own it.

A hybrid structure gives management authority to both members and top managers.

"LLCs represent a more recent form of business structure, leading to fewer associated legal cases. Consequently, there is less established legal precedent or case law for LLCs compared to more traditional business entities. This lack of established precedent can make it challenging to navigate similar legal scenarios."

- Delina Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, Distinguished Expert in Mergers & Acquisitions

State Fees and Taxes

Using a calculator to compute

One of the disadvantages of a limited liability company when it comes to state fees and taxes is pass-through taxation.

This means that LLCs are taxed by default as pass-through entities, which means the LLC itself is not taxed, but the profits go to the members, who are taxed on them separately.

This leads to double taxation of profits since all profit first goes through to the owners' tax returns for pass-through entities like an LLC.

So, if an LLC makes $100,000 in profit, the business owner would pay taxes on that amount at their individual tax rate.

But then, the owner would also have to pay taxes again on their share of the LLC's profits on their return.

You can avoid this by electing corporate taxation, but that comes with its disadvantages.

For one, corporate taxation for pass-through entities is not advantageous because the corporate tax rate is substantially higher than the individual income tax rates in most cases.

This can be avoided by electing corporate taxation, but that comes with its own disadvantages.

Cost

Another disadvantage of LLCs is their cost. While state fees and taxes may be higher than those of other business structures, like a sole proprietorship, the real disadvantage comes when you consider all of the extra costs of an LLC.

Vincenzo Villamena, founder and CEO of Online Taxman, adds that since LLCs are separate entities, they have an additional cost to maintain every year with state registration as well as maintaining a mailbox in that state if you don't have an address there (i.e., Delaware).

You not only have to pay for your annual LLC filing fee and any required permits, but you also have to pay for your accountant or contact an attorney or law firm.

In general, an LLC is more expensive than other business structures due to the extra costs, which can be a disadvantage if you're not prepared for it or not aware of all of the additional services you may need.

Make sure you do your research before forming an LLC so that you can make an informed decision about whether it's the right choice for your business.

Double taxation

One of the most significant disadvantages of an LLC is double taxation.

This means that you will be taxed twice on any profits that your LLC makes, and it can also result in you having to pay more taxes than if you were using a different business structure like a sole proprietorship or C-Corp.

This can be a significant disadvantage for businesses making a lot of money, and it's one of the main reasons many people choose to avoid using an LLC.

FAQs

Does an LLC Really Protect You?

Yes. An LLC provides its owners with protection against personal liability for the debts and obligations of the LLC. This means that if your business fails or loses a lawsuit, you can't be forced to use your personal assets to pay off business-related debts or court judgments.

What Is the Downside to an LLC?

The only significant downside to using an LLC is that, in most states, it will cost you a bit more to establish and operate than a sole proprietorship or partnership. This is because there are more administrative formalities associated with running an LLC.

For example, LLCs must file annual reports and pay yearly fees in most states, whereas sole proprietorships and partnerships do not.

What Is the Biggest Advantage of Choosing an LLC?

The most considerable advantage of choosing an LLC is its owners' liability protection. This means that if your business fails or loses a lawsuit, you can't be forced to use your personal assets to pay off business-related debts or court judgments.

Can an LLC Be Converted Into a Different Business Structure in the Future?

Yes, an LLC can be converted into a different business structure, such as an S corporation. This conversion can be beneficial for tax purposes, as it may allow the owners to reduce self-employment taxes and change the business entity's legal and financial structure.

References:

  1. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/limited-liability-company-llc
  2. https://www.uschamber.com/small-business/new-business-applications-a-state-by-state-view?state=
  3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/pass-through_taxation
  4. https://www.irs.gov/

About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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