Exploring Entity Types: Find the Best Fit for Your Dental Practice

Dental Practice

Choosing the right type of entity for your dental practice is a crucial decision that can impact various aspects of your business. It determines the legal and financial framework within which your organization operates. By selecting the appropriate category for your business, you can optimize taxation, protect personal assets, distribute profits effectively, and position your practice for growth. In this blog post, we will explore different types of entities commonly used by dental practices and discuss the factors to consider when determining the right choice for you.

What is an Entity Type?

An entity type refers to the legal structure or form adopted by your organization to conduct business activities. It defines the framework within which your business operates and is recognized by the government and other entities. It is a classification that determines how the business is recognized, regulated, and taxed. Common entity types include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

The most common entities for dental practice:

  • C Corporation: A C corporation is an independent legal entity separate from its founder(s). The business is liable for legal actions, while the founders and owners have legal separation from the organization. Filing as a C corporation requires additional governance, such as board meetings and company bylaws. C corporation owners face double taxation, as the business is taxed separately, and personal earnings from company dividends are also taxed. The advantages include perpetual existence and the ability to pass the business to heirs, with individual liability limited to the amount invested. However, obtaining a corporate charter from the state is necessary.
  • S Corporation: S corporations offer reduced personal liability like C corporations but avoid double taxation. However, they have limitations, such as a maximum of 100 shareholders, which can restrict growth compared to C corporations. S corporations allow stockholders to easily sell shares or raise capital to expand the company. However, they are legally confined to operating in the state specified by the corporate charter unless authorized otherwise.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a simple and effective business structure that provides legal protection for personal assets and offers flexibility in terms of the number of owners. However, it doesn’t protect against personal malpractice claims. Limited liability companies (LLCs) offer owners the flexibility to choose their preferred tax treatment. Unlike other business structures, LLCs are not subject to strict regulations regarding bylaws and board meetings, which makes them highly appealing to most small-business owners. LLCs are considered one of the most attractive entity types due to the freedom and flexibility they provide.
  • Professional Limited Liability Company With S-Corp Election: This entity combines the features of a PLLC and an S-Corporation. This means that the PLLC retains limited liability protection for its owners while benefiting from the tax advantages of an S-Corporation. The owners can pay themselves a reasonable salary subject to employment taxes, while the remaining profits can be distributed as dividends, which are not subject to self-employment taxes. This can result in potential tax savings for the owners. It’s important to note that the availability and regulations surrounding PLLCs with S-Corp Election may vary depending on the state.
  • Partnership: Partnerships are the simplest structure for two or more people to own a business together. There are three common kinds of partnerships: general partnership (GP), limited partnership (LP) and limited liability partnership (LLP). They allow flow-through taxation and a special allocation of income and expenses. On the other hand, there is unlimited personal liability for a general partner unless structured as an LLP. State law varies regarding the operation of partnerships, and a lawyer is essential to ensure set up correctly in applicable state(s).

What’s the importance of choosing the right one?

The entity type of your business carries several key implications:

  1. Legal Liability: The entity type you choose determines your personal liability for business debts and legal obligations. For example, sole proprietors and general partners in partnerships have unlimited personal liability, meaning their personal assets can be used to satisfy business debts. In contrast, limited liability entities like LLCs and corporations provide a level of protection for personal assets, shielding them from business liabilities.
  2. Taxation: Different entity types have distinct tax implications. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are typically pass-through entities, where business profits and losses flow through to the owners’ personal tax returns. On the other hand, corporations face corporate-level taxation and potential double taxation when distributing dividends. Understanding these tax considerations helps optimize your tax strategy and financial planning.
  3. Access to Funding: Your entity type can affect your ability to secure funding or attract investors. Corporations, for instance, can issue shares of stock, making it easier to raise capital by selling ownership interests. Investors may find corporations more attractive due to their established governance structure and limited liability protection. Sole proprietorships and partnerships may face challenges in attracting external funding due to the higher personal liability risks associated with these entity types.
  4. Management and Decision-Making: Entity types also influence the management structure and decision-making processes of your business. Sole proprietors have complete control over their business decisions, while partnerships involve shared decision-making among partners. Corporations have a hierarchical structure with shareholders, directors, and officers responsible for different aspects of management. LLCs offer flexibility, allowing owners to define their management structure and decision-making processes.
  5. Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Each entity type carries specific legal and regulatory requirements that must be met. Corporations, for example, must comply with formalities such as holding shareholder meetings and maintaining corporate records. Failure to fulfill these requirements can expose the business and its owners to legal consequences. Understanding and fulfilling the obligations associated with your chosen entity type is crucial to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

Choosing the Right Entity Type:

Selecting the right entity type for your business requires careful consideration of your specific circumstances, long-term goals, and risk tolerance. Factors such as the nature of your business, the number of owners, desired tax structure, and growth plans should be evaluated. Consulting with legal, tax, and financial professionals can help you make an informed decision. Take the time to assess your needs and seek professional advice to ensure you choose the right entity type that aligns with your goals and minimizes risks.

Here at Dental CPA, we have sophisticated tax planning techniques that involve helping you with choosing the right type of entity. As a highly experienced CPA firm, our accountants will work hard to find you the best option for your business.

About Our Experts

Fazel Mostashari is a dental practice expert whose specialty is financial accounting, tax planning, and practice purchase and set up for the dental industry. For over 10 years, Fazel has been the driving force behind the success of many dental practices.

As a proud husband to a dentist, he understands the unique challenges of running a dental practice. Together, they run a thriving, multi-specialty practice in the sunny city of Woodland Hills, CA.

If you’re looking for expert advice, set up a consultation with Fazel.
Fazel Mostashari: Dental Practice Financial Expert

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