Tax entity choice can affect family practice in many ways. Making the right choice will help protect both practice and physician.
Family Practice Entity Types
Typical entity options for family practice include sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships and professional S or C corporations. The two biggest influences in choosing the right entity are protection against litigation and the financial issues associated with the entity. It’s important to consult a legal professional before making this family practice financial decision because the implications can be tremendous.
Choosing to operate the family practice as a professional corporation, a limited liability corporation or a limited liability partnership usually provides protection against personal liability regarding the actions of any other physicians in the practice.
For financial reasons, most group family practices tend to choose professional corporations. The professional corporation, whether S type or C type, provides the practice with protection from financial creditors.
Sole Proprietorship & General Partnership
The sole proprietorship is the cheapest and easiest choice in choosing a tax designation for the family practice. Business income and expense are reported on a schedule C. The problem with a sole proprietorship is that the physician’s assets can be taken if the business is sued. This is a lot like a sole proprietorship, except that there are multiple business owners involved. Again, there is no liability protection when using this entity.
Limited Liability Partnerships are the only kind of unincorporated entity that provide some form of protection from personal liability (including protection from liability for the actions of staff or other physicians in the practice.) A physician could lose his practice with this form of entity, but personal assets would be safe.
Limited liability companies are much like a mix of the best available entity benefits. They are fast becoming the entity of choice for many family practices.
Incorporating the family practice is more involved and more expensive but more protection is offered. The biggest reason physicians choose an incorporated entity is the protection from personal liability regarding the actions of colleagues. C corporations have several benefits. They also have a downside – it’s possible to be doubly taxed. S corporation profits are not taxed twice.
Entities and Tax Issues for Family Practice
Tax liabilities are important to consider when choosing an entity. Professional C corporations will pay a flat 35% rate tax on net income but profits can be taxed twice. Professional S corporations don’t result in double taxing of profit but it isn’t possible to write off the cost of all benefits.
There are many implications when considering tax rates and entity. In order to avoid duplicate taxing and other negative consequences, consult a financial advisor and make sure all involved details are understood.
Cost of Entity Set Up for Family Practice
The cost to set up an entity and maintain it vary according to state rules and regulations. Professional corporations require more record keeping and paperwork than do limited liability partnerships or limited liability corporations.
When setting up the Family Practice, it’s important to take the time and money necessary to investigate options regarding incorporation, tax and related issues. Once the best entity has been recognized, it’s important to legally implement it and maintain it.
When it comes to tax related issues, careful consideration is important, especially regarding the setup of the family practice. Decisions made now affect the practice down the road. Consult with legal professionals before choosing the entity for the family practice.