According to country and law, the word “corporation” may refer to for-profit or non-profit organizations.
The former are typically shareholders owning shares in a corporate capital stock that represent a residual interest in the company after equity has been paid out to owners (equity).
Those who own shares directly are called stakeholders; those indirectly via other financial assets such as bonds or debentures are said to own shares through various intermediaries.
A corporation can be used in the singular or plural, with either capitalization (“corporation” or “corporations”) and without it (“a corporation”).
What is a corporation?
A corporation is a legal entity with its rights and responsibilities, such as limited liability. It can be an independent business, or it may be part of another company that shares ownership with the public side of the company.
It is a legal entity that can enter into contracts, sue, and be sued. They own assets, remit taxes, and borrow money from financial institutions.
A corporation is a legal entity that has been created by way of incorporation, which results in the creation and issuance of a corporate charter. Incorporating creates an organization with distinct features like limited liability protection from personal claims made against it.
The definition includes “corporation” as well as “limited liability company,” or LLC; they are not mutually exclusive terms because both entities can be considered corporations under certain conditions such as when there is more than one shareholder (the limit on a number of shareholders in an LLC is 100).
The creation of a corporation
A corporation is a company that shareholders have created to pursue a common goal. Shareholders are not required to be employees, but they must own at least one share of stock in the company. Corporations can also be formed as non-profit organizations or partnerships.
To create a corporation, the state requires that specific requirements be met. These include having a name and registering with the state’s corporations division in addition to fulfilling other required documents. Corporations are majority profit-based, but some, like charities and fraternal organizations, can also operate as non-profits by not accepting any profits from their operations.
The creation of a corporation is the process by which an entity is formed. The incorporation documents, or articles of incorporation, are required to document the formation and incorporate into a legal entity. A publicly traded corporation must issue its shares on public markets to be considered as such.
These entities are treated as legal under most states’ laws, and you can use corporations in contracts or commercial transactions. The law of corporations often intersects with contract law due to their similarity in substance to private agreements between parties; however, because they are designed for conducting business activities instead of performing personal services as individuals do, it may seem difficult at times when compared with other types of contracts such as residential leases or employment agreements.
How to become a corporation
The process of turning a private corporation into a public corporation is far more complex, as it falls under federal laws requiring full and public disclosure of financial information to potential shareholders and the government.
An excellent guide for businesses exploring the formation of a corporation is your local secretary of state (SoS) office or website. Not only is that where you’ll submit all of your business filings and paperwork, but this resource can also offer information to help business owners make the most informed decision.
While you can dredge through the formation process independently, there are droves of attorneys and online resources to assist and make the process a little more painless.
There are some standard steps to getting any business legal. Still, the specific process for forming a corporation is as follows: Until you complete this process, your business doesn’t legally exist in the eyes of the state. At its core, the statutory agent is the person or corporation responsible for receiving and handling important mail and related correspondence, which typically pertains to taxation, legal proceedings, secretary of state correspondence, or other correspondence about the business entity. The statutory agent generally is one of the business owners, the business’s attorney, the business’s accountant, or a third-party company that is in the business of acting as a statutory agent for business entities.
Depending on your business and your state of operation, these various documents, licenses, and certificates can include the business’s Tax ID (aka EIN) and ID numbers for unemployment, disability, and payroll taxes.
The board of directors acts as the organization’s governance. It is in charge of issuing stock, electing mandatory officers (the corporation must have a president, a secretary, and a treasurer), and overseeing major organizational and strategic decisions and direction.
Furthermore, an attorney or online legal assistance can help you draft initial protective documentation like shareholder agreements, board of directors bylaws, and various other policies.
Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming are some uniquely business-friendly states that either hold a substantial percentage of American corporations or are particularly flexible in filings.
Common types of corporations
A corporation is an entity that has been granted legal rights to operate as a separate and distinct business from its owners. Corporations can be For-profit or Not-for-profit, depending on their charter.
Anyone can form a corporation to generate revenue or return shareholder gains. Most corporations are structured as businesses that produce goods or services in exchange for money from customers who buy these products/services (so they’re for-profit).
Not-for-profit organizations are often classified as corporations, but they have different limitations and tax purposes.
C Corporations are the most popular kind of corporation among businesses. These corporations have a limited number of shareholders, and all profits generated by the company go to those shareholders. The owners receive their earnings from dividends, which they can use as income or save for retirement.
The S Corporation is different from a regular corporation in that it can have up to 100 shareholders. For this reason, the profits and losses are not taxed as separate entities but instead on their personal income tax returns.
Non-profit corporations are used by charitable, educational, and religious organizations to operate without generating profits, and they take on large amounts of debt to accomplish their goals.
How do corporations work?
Corporations work by having a board of directors and shareholders. A board of directors controls the business decisions made by a corporation, making them the executive power of that entity.
Shareholders are not required to participate in the company’s day-to-day running, but they can still vote on decisions and have their say through meetings or proxy voting.
The board owes a duty to its shareholders, who can be elected as members.
Shareholders can vote for new directors or even elect themselves if they feel they will best serve their interests in this capacity.
The board members make significant decisions affecting shareholders to run a successful company with sound fiscal management and policy implementation.
Why do corporations attract investors?
There are many reasons why corporations attract investors. They range from the tax benefits associated with being taxed on their portion of profits to the ability to take advantage of certain legal protections that may not be available in other types of business structures.
A corporation can also provide security for an investor’s assets and income by limiting personal liability.
Corporations are the most common form of organization for businesses. They attract investors because they can protect their assets, shield themselves from liability, and make transfers easy with shares.
As such, it attracts more than just the average investor because of this protective bubble surrounding them.
The US saw an uptick in business formations during the third quarter of 2020. Corporations received 1.56 million applications with nearly $314 billion invested in stocks and bonds combined from application submissions alone for new businesses between September-October 2020.
An LLC is another type of legal entity that offers similar benefits but has its limitations as well.
There are many types of ownership structures, but the most common forms are Limited Liability Company (LLC), Sole Proprietorship (Sole), Partnership (Partnership), and Corporation.
The decision is based on different situations that might arise in an organization.
Advantages and disadvantages of incorporation
A corporation is a legal entity with unlimited life and can do business, own properties, enter into contracts, borrow money and pay taxes. This entity is not owned by its members; instead, it’s managed by the members who are only liable for their invested amount.
A corporation allows owners to control their assets for less risk than investing in an unincorporated company (or as part of a partnership).
The advantages of incorporation:
- Owners are not personally liable for the corporation’s debts.
- Members can transfer ownership of their shares to other people without filing paperwork or paying taxes.
- Shares don’t have to be registered with the government, leading to easier hiding of assets.
- The ability to write off expenses and reduce corporate taxes.
Here are some disadvantages of incorporating:
When a business has a lot of capital and grows fast, the owners may want to incorporate it. However, going through this process can be costly for small businesses that are just getting started or not yet profitable.
Additionally, shareholders do not have direct control over day-to-day operations and vote on corporate matters with their board of directors, who hire professional management team members to manage their everyday activities. In addition to these disadvantages listed above, there are two taxes from dividends and corporate earnings.
Differences between partnerships, sole proprietorships, and LLCs
Partnerships, Sole Proprietorships, and LLCs are three different business structures that differ in what rights they provide their owners.
A Partnership is a relationship between two or more parties in which the parties have the right to participate in profits and losses. At the same time, a Sole Proprietorship is a business structure that provides its owner with all rights given to an individual.
An LLC is a business structure that limits the liability of its owners and provides limited liability to its members.
Special considerations for liquidating a corporation
Liquidation is the process of resolving a corporation into cash. There are three basic steps to liquidating a corporation:
1. Determine whether it is necessary to liquidate the corporation.
2. Conduct a formal business appraisal of the corporation’s assets and liabilities, as well as its current state of operation.
3. Determine how much cash is available from the liquidation.
When to form a corporation?
Forming a corporation is an important question that may need to be answered differently for different purposes. One of the most common reasons for creating a corporation in Canada is when the company has reached a specific size.
In the United States, a corporation is more likely to be formed when it has been determined that your business will have significant tax consequences or if you have the potential for becoming a publicly-traded company.
What are the steps of forming a corporation?
The steps of forming a corporation are as follows:
- Choose the company name, check if it’s available and register the DBA name.
- The owners of this company must then appoint directors.
- The individual should then apply (Articles of Incorporation) with their state’s Secretary of State to register this company.
- Once completed, write your company bylaws. Your corporation’s bylaws lay forth the ground rules for how it will be operated. For the most part, the company’s bylaws will address items like the number of directors needed, the number of shares of stock that the corporation can issue, and the processes for conducting meetings and preserving records.
- Have the first Board of Directors meeting to adopt the bylaws, appoint corporate officers, and authorize issuing the stock. Once the stock issuance is approved, you can issue stock certificates to your members.
- You’ll need to get a variety of business licenses and permissions before your company can open for business. Your state and local government, as well as the sector in which your firm works, may have different requirements. You may visit the Small Business Administration’s website to find out what licenses and permissions your company needs in your state.
- Once the corporation is formed, it must be given an EIN (Tax ID) by the IRS.
- Go ahead and open your corporate bank account. Having a bank account independent from the bank accounts of your shareholders is essential. The bank where you plan to set up an account will tell you what paperwork is needed. Some banks require a corporate resolution to create a corporate account, while others may merely require a copy of the company’s articles of incorporation to do the same. An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, received from the IRS is also required by most institutions.
A corporation is a group of people that are treated as one entity. Its members are not liable for the actions of other members, which means they can’t be sued individually by shareholders or creditors.
The advantages of incorporating include pass-through taxes, and limited liability companies offer protection and tax advantages to their owners.