A business entity is an entity that is formed and administered as per corporate law in order to engage in business activities, charitable work, or other activities allowable. Most often, business entities are formed to sell a product or a service. There are many types of business entities defined in the legal systems of various countries. These include corporations, cooperatives, partnerships, sole traders, limited liability companies and other specifically permitted and labelled types of entities. The specific rules vary by country and by state or province. Some of these types are listed below, by country. For guidance, approximate equivalents in the company law of English-speaking countries are given in most cases, for example:
Unltd or Ultd (Unlimited/無限公司): similar to a limited liability company (Ltd) but whose members or shareholders do not benefit from limited liability should the company ever go into formal liquidation. It is not a requirement under company law to add or state the word or designation Unlimited (無限公司) or its abbreviations (Unltd or Ultd) at the ending of its legal company name, and most unlimited companies do not.
Despite being a relatively new option, the limited liability company (LLC) is now one of the most popular business structures among smaller organizations. While allowing business owners to remain free from a great deal of the regulations imposed on other types of companies, it still provides limited liability protection for its owners (members). This means that the personal assets of an LLC's ownership cannot be collected to fulfill the debts of the business.
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.
Company limited by guarantee not having a share capital – Public company. Must have at least seven members. Members' liability limited to amount they have undertaken to contribute to company assets. If wound up, liability does not exceed amount specified in memorandum. If a guarantee company does not have a share capital, members are not required to buy shares (such as charities).
All formal business entities, including LLCs, are required to have a Registered Agent on file with the state at all times. The agent may be an individual or company with a physical address located in the state of incorporation. Agents must be available at all times during standard business hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday – Friday). The role of a Registered Agent is to receive any and all of communications from the government to the business. The agent’s name and address must be disclosed as part of the company’s public record.
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.
Partnership (shutafut, שותפות) – created by default, even without registration, when two or more persons run a business together for profit. Personal liability of partners is not limited, unless they are limited partners of a limited partnership. Partnerships are governed by the Partnerships Ordinance [New Form], 5735-1975 (פקודת השותפויות [נוסח חדש], תשל"ה-1975).
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.
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.
If you are foreign qualifying your business or wish to keep your contact information private, it may be wise to hire a professional Registered Agent service such as Swyft Filings. Our professional Registered Agent service ensures that your legal requirements will be fulfilled and that all communications will be relayed to your company in a timely manner.
Minnesota nonprofit corporations are not required to use any of these words; for business corporations, they must use "corporation", "incorporated", or "limited", or shall contain an abbreviation of one or more of these words, or the word "company" or the abbreviation "Co." if that word or abbreviation is not immediately preceded by the word "and" or the character "&" Chapter 302A, Section 302A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for Business Corporations); Chapter 317A, Section 317A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for non-profit corporations)
Swyft Filings offers a professional Registered Agent service as well business filing services. Regardless of the state in which your business is located, we can provide you with Registered Agent services. Swyft Filings provides companies of all types and sizes an affordable solution that will ensure that they remain compliant with all Registered Agent requirements.
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