Selling Guide

Published December 16, 2020

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How is a business structured as an LLC defined?

Limited Liability Companies

A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid business structure that is designed to offer its member-owners the tax efficiencies of a partnership and the limited liability advantages of a corporation. The member-owners of the LLC (or their assigned managers) can sign contracts, sell assets, and make other important business decisions. The LLC operating agreement may set out specific divisions of power among the member-owners (or managers). Although the member-owners generally have limited liability, there may be some instances in which they are required to personally guarantee some of the loans that the LLC obtains. Profits from the operation of the LLC may be distributed beyond the pool of member-owners, such as by offering profit distributions to managers.

The LLC may report its profit or loss on IRS Form 1065 or IRS Form 1120S with each member-owner’s share of the profit or loss on Schedule K-1, IRS Form 1065 or IRS Form 1120S; however, the LLC pays no tax on its income. Each member- owner uses the information from Schedule K-1 to report his or her share of the LLC’s net profit or loss (and special deductions and credits) on his or her individual IRS Form 1040, whether or not the member-owner receives a cash distribution from the LLC. Individual member-owners pay taxes on their proportionate share of the LLC’s net income at their individual tax rates.

The lender must evaluate the LLC using IRS Form 1065 or IRS Form 1120S along with the Schedule K-1, as applicable, to determine the following:

  • whether the borrower actually received a cash distribution from the LLC, since profits may or may not be distributed to the individual member-owners; and
  • whether the borrower has guaranteed any loans obtained by the LLC (other than loans that are considered as nonrecourse debt or qualified nonrecourse debt).

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