For businesses in industries like construction or real estate, where unforeseen circumstances and hazardous conditions may hold the owner responsible, consider starting an LLC. The protection gained means you will not be held personally liable, protecting you and your family from litigation or the debts of the business. An LLC may not be the best choice for business owners who plan on raising capital through outside investment. LLCs are not public structures and do not have shareholders, so taking a company public is not an option either. However, in the event that you'd like to take your business public you may switch to a public legal structure, like a C corporation, later on.
Corp., Inc., Corporation, Incorporated: used to denote corporations (public or otherwise). These are the only terms universally accepted by all 51 corporation chartering jurisdictions in the United States. However, in some states other suffixes may be used to identify a corporation, such as Ltd., Co./Company, or the Italian term S.p.A. (in Connecticut; see under Italy). Some states that allow the use of "Company" prohibit the use of "and Company", "and Co.", "& Company" or "& Co.". In most states sole proprietorships and partnerships may register a fictitious "doing business as" name with the word "Company" in it. For a full list of allowed designations by state, see the table below.
Maryland For Corporations: "Company", if it is not preceded by the word "and" or a symbol for the word "and"; "Corporation", "Incorporated" or "Limited" or abbreviations; for Limited liability companies: "limited liability company", "L.L.C.", "LLC", "L.C.", or "LC"; for Limited liability partnerships: "limited liability partnership", "L.L.P." or "LLP"; for Limited partnerships: "limited partnership", "L.P.", or "LP"; for Limited liability limited partnerships: "limited liability limited partnership", "L.L.L.P.", or "LLLP"; for Professional corporations: "chartered", "chtd.", "professional association", "P.A.", "professional corporation", or "P.C." Maryland Code – Corporations and Associations § 1-502
An LLC that does not want to accept its default federal tax classification, or that wishes to change its classification, uses Form 8832, Entity Classification Election (PDF), to elect how it will be classified for federal tax purposes. Generally, an election specifying an LLC’s classification cannot take effect more than 75 days prior to the date the election is filed, nor can it take effect later than 12 months after the date the election is filed. An LLC may be eligible for late election relief in certain circumstances. See About Form 8832, Entity Classification Election for more information.
If the LLC will be Manager governed, an elected set of Managers (who can be people other than Members), will make the business decisions. Under this structure, the business will more closely resemble a traditional corporation, with the Managers acting as directors, and the owners acting as shareholders. If an LLC elects to be governed by Managers, this decision must be stated in the Articles of Organization.
Depending on elections made by the LLC and the number of members, the IRS will treat an LLC as either a corporation, partnership, or as part of the LLC’s owner’s tax return (a “disregarded entity”). Specifically, a domestic LLC with at least two members is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes unless it files Form 8832 and affirmatively elects to be treated as a corporation. For income tax purposes, an LLC with only one member is treated as an entity disregarded as separate from its owner, unless it files Form 8832 and elects to be treated as a corporation. However, for purposes of employment tax and certain excise taxes, an LLC with only one member is still considered a separate entity.