Single Member LLC: The Ultimate Guide

May 6, 2022

Single Member LLC: The Ultimate Guide

You're about to read an advanced guide to “Single-Member LLCs”. So, if you want to know:

  • What is a single-member LLC?
  • How do single member LLCs pay taxes?
  • Do single member LLCs have alternative options to pay taxes?
  • What is the difference between a single-member LLC and a sole proprietor?
  • A whole lot more...

Then you must read this. Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways on Single Member LLCs:

  1. Definition of Single Member LLC: A single-member LLC (SMLLC) is an LLC with only one member, offering protection of personal assets through the corporate veil.
  2. Taxation of Single Member LLCs: SMLLCs are taxed similarly to sole proprietors. Profits or losses are reported on Schedule C and filed with the owner's 1040 tax return.
  3. Disregarded Entity Status: For tax purposes, the IRS views SMLLCs as disregarded entities. The owner files taxes for the LLC through their personal income tax return.
  4. Tax Filing Example: Income and expenses from the SMLLC are reported on Schedule C, attached to the owner's personal Form 1040.
  5. Use of EIN in Single Member LLCs: An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required for SMLLCs with employees or certain tax liabilities. Otherwise, the owner's SSN or EIN is used for federal taxes.
  6. Self-Employment Taxes for Single Member LLCs: Owners pay self-employment taxes on LLC revenue, subject to federal tax rates for Social Security and Medicare.
  7. Other Income Tax Options: SMLLCs can elect to be taxed as a corporation or S Corporation by filing specific forms with the IRS.
  8. Creating a Single Member LLC: Steps include confirming the business name's availability, choosing a registered agent, filing articles of organization, preparing an operating agreement, applying for an EIN, and opening an LLC bank account.
  9. Advantages of a Single Member LLC: Benefits include liability protection, business lifespan, tax flexibility, ease of raising capital, and expanding ownership.
  10. Disadvantages of a Single Member LLC: Challenges include complex formation and the need to follow specific guidelines to maintain liability protection.
  11. Comparison with Sole Proprietorship: The IRS treats SMLLCs as disregarded entities for tax purposes, similar to sole proprietorships, but with the option for different tax treatments.
  12. Classification and 1099 Requirements: For income tax purposes, SMLLCs are considered disregarded entities, but they are treated as separate for employment and specific excise taxes. SMLLCs need to issue 1099-NEC forms for certain payments.
  13. Paying Yourself as a Single Member LLC: Owners draw their income from the LLC, which is reported as personal income on their tax return.
  14. LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: Generally, LLCs offer better protection for personal assets compared to sole proprietorships.

These takeaways provide a comprehensive overview of the structure, taxation, and operational aspects of single-member LLCs, emphasizing their benefits and considerations compared to other business forms.

Register Your LLC - Company Registration


Single Member Limited Liability Company

When you form a limited liability company (LLC), the owners are called “members”. For this reason, when you form an LLC, which only has one member, then your LLC is called a “single-member LLC” (SMLLC).

When your LLC has more than one member, your LLC is called a “multi member LLC”. Both single member LLCs and a multi member LLCs have a protection veil, which protects the personal assets of the members. The veil is commonly referred to as the “corporate veil”.

Generally, the purpose of forming an LLC for business is to obtain limited liability protection. This means that if anyone creates lawsuits or debts against your company, then only your business entity is subject to liability, not you.

Your LLC is considered a different legal entity from yourself. In other words, because the LLC provides a corporate veil, it separates your business from you. Forming an LLC is the simplest way to structure your business to protect your personal assets. So, you probably get it, by now, that with your single-member LLC (SMLLC), your personal assets will be protected by the corporate veil.

At this point, however, you probably want to know “How is a single-member LLC taxed?” Good question. Keep reading.

Single Member LLC Taxes

In short, your single member LLC will pay taxes the same as sole proprietors. This is the tax classification for single member LLCs. You will report all of your SMLLC profits or losses on Schedule C and you will file it with your 1040 tax return. Even if you keep some funds in your SMLLC bank account (to cover future expenses), the IRS requires you to pay income tax on those funds.

The IRS does not require your SMLLC entity to neither pay taxes separately nor to file a return with them.

Single Member LLC Disregarded Entity

Don't get confused. The IRS views single member LLCs (SMLLCs) as a disregarded entity only for taxes, which means that the IRS ignores the business entity specifically for tax purposes.Instead, the IRS requires the owner of the SMLLC to file Schedule C and they collect taxes through the business owner’s personal income tax filing. This is probably confusing. How about I provide an example about a friend of mine?

Single Member LLC Tax Filing

My friend Warren started off his bake shop with a SMLLC. He worked it part time. In year #1, Warren earned a total of $40,000 from his bake shop and had $7,500 in expenses (for equipment, ingredients, and supplies). As a result of Warren having his bake shop only on the side, he earned an additional $60,000 in salary from his part-time job as an employee of Dunkin Donuts.

So, in this instance, Warren used Schedule C to show his earnings and expenses from his bake shop. Warren then attaches the Schedule C to his personal Form 1040, where he reports and pays taxes on his combined net income of $92,500 ($42,500 from his bake shop and $60,000 from his job at Dunkin Donuts).

IRS Single Member LLC

In regards to how you pay your SMLLC federal taxes, you must either use your (as the owner of the SMLLC) personal social security number or your employer identification number (EIN) for all information returns.

Single Member LLC EIN

Let me explain. If a disregarded entity LLC that is owned by an individual is required to provide a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification, the W-9 should provide the owner’s SSN or EIN, not the LLC’s EIN.

There are instances where the EIN of your LLC must be used. If your SMLLC employs workers, or is required to file any excise tax forms, then your single-member LLC will need an EIN. You can apply for an EIN (for your single member LLC) by filing form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.

However, if your (disregarded entity) SMLLC does not employ workers and does not have excise tax liability, then you do not need an EIN. Instead, you should use your name and TIN (assuming you are the owner of the SMLLC) when paying federal taxes. In the event that you need an EIN for another purpose other than paying federal taxes, then you can still apply for and obtain an EIN. For example, your state may require you to have an EIN.

Self Employment Taxes For Single-Member LLC

Due to the fact that your single-member limited liability company is a disregarded entity, you pay taxes the same way a sole proprietor would. The IRS considers single member LLCs to be self-employed. For this reason, the IRS considers your revenue to be earnings from self-employment. As a result, your single member LLC’s revenue is subject to federal self-employment tax.

To clarify, self-employment tax is different from gross income tax. For self-employment federal tax, you pay taxes on most of your income. Up to an annual specified threshold amount, a self-employed individual pays taxes at a rate of 15.3%. This is split up, 12,4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. If a self-employed individual earns more than the specified threshold amount, only the 2.9% tax Medicare tax applies.

When the time arises to file your annual tax return, you'll need to include Schedule SE, Self-employment tax, with your Form 1040. The IRS uses the Schedule SE form to compute and report how much they will obligate you to pay self-employment taxes.

Other Income Tax Options For Single Member LLCs

You have the option to pay taxes either as a corporation or an S Corporation.

Single Member LLC Tax Form

In order to obtain corporation tax status, you must file an election Form 8832 with the IRS, on behalf of your SMLLC. However, in order to obtain S Corporation tax status, you must file Form 2553, on behalf of your LLC. Please be advised that the change from a SMLLC only impacts your business taxes. Nevertheless, your business will still continue to operate as an LLC.

It probably seems simple to change your SMLLC’s tax status. However, the technicalities of changing your SMLLC’s tax status is complicated. Therefore, we encourage you to seek help from a tax professional.

Creating A Single Memeber LLC

In order to form a SMLLC, there are a few EASY steps to follow.

single-member llc
  1. Firstly, the name you choose for your SMLLC is available.
    For this reason, it is in your best interest to conduct a name search to confirm that name you intend to use is indeed available.
  2. After straightening out what the name for your SMLLC will be, choose a registered agent for your LLC.
    A registered agent is an individual or a business entity that will accept lawsuits on your LLC’s behalf.
    Normally, anyone (over the age of 18) who has a physical address in the state and is available during normal business hours can be a registered agent for LLC, including you.
  3. At this point, file articles of organization or a certificate of organization (depending on which state you are in) with the state where you want to operate and pay your states filing fee.
  4. After registering your LLC with your state, you should prepare an operating agreement to determine how you want to operate your business.
  5. Next, most SMLLC will need an employer ID number (EIN), even if you don't have any employees.
    For this reason, be sure to apply for your EIN, which will be used for federal income tax and employment taxes.
    You can apply for an EIN here.
    Some states require you to have an EIN prior to filing your articles of organization.
  6. To protect your limited liability status and make record keeping easier, open an LLC bank account.

Single Member LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship

Differences LLC Sole Proprietor
Difficulty To Form ❌ Difficult ✅ Easy
Guidlines To Follow ❌ Follow Guidlines ✅ No Guidlines
Tax Flexibility ✅ Flexible ❌ Not Flexible
Liability ✅ Personally Protected ❌ Personally Liable
Business Lifespan ✅ Infinite ❌ Constricted
Raising Capital ✅ Easy ❌ Difficult
Expanding Ownership Difficulty ✅ Easy ❌ Difficult

Advantages Of A Single Member LLC

Here are the benefits of forming a SMLLC rather than staying solo.

  • Liability protection: when you form a SMLLC, you set up a corporate veil.
    The corporate veil protects your personal assets from ever being at risk for the liabilities of the business.
  • Business lifespan: when you create a SMLLC, your LLC exists as a separate entity.
    As a result, it is far easier to pass on ownership to another individual.
  • Flexibility with taxes: when you form a SMLLC, you can elect varius tax treatments.
    You can elect pass-through taxation (with the personal tax return), or you can elect corporate taxation.
  • Expanding ownership: when you form a SMLLC, it is far easier to change from a single member LLC to a multi member LLC.
    If you would have stayed a sole proprietor, the process would be far more difficult.
  • Raising capital: when you create a SMLLC, you register your business with your state.
    When a client or a customer will see that you registered your business with the state, you will convince them that your business is a professional business.
    This may discourage potential plaintiffs from pursuing a lawsuit against you.
    They will realize that you are a professional who is responsible and is not prepared to get pushed over for no reason.

Disadvantages Of A SMLLC

Here are some of the disadvantages of choosing to form a single-member LLC.

  • Complex formation: when you form a SMLLC, you will file extensive paperwork. The reason why creating a SMLLC is such a complex formation is because a SMLLC is a separate entity.
  • Following guidelines: when you form a SMLLC, you must do whatever it takes to maintain your liability protection by protecting the corporate veil.
    In order to protect the corporate veil, you will need to follow the guidelines of operating an LLC.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to file taxes for single-member LLC?

In order for a single-member LLC to file and pay taxes, you will need to file Schedule C with your personal income tax return. On Schedule C, wou report the income and expenses of your SMLLC. After that, you attach that amount as income or loss on your personal tax return Form 1040.

What tax form does a single-member LLC file?

In the event that you, the individual, is the owner of the single-member LLC, you report your income and expenses on Form 1040, Schedule C, E, F. However, if the owner of the single-member LLC is a corporation, then you report your LLC’s income and expenses on the corporation’s return, usually Form 1120 or Form 1120S.

Is my LLC a disregarded entity?

If you do not elect corporation treatment for your SMLLC, then your LLC is indeed a “disregarded entity”. As a result, you should report your LLC’s income and expenses on your own, personal, federal tax return.

How does a single member LLC file taxes?

The IRS treats single-member LLCs as sole proprietors, specifically for tax purposes. As a result, SMLLCs do not pay their own taxes and do not file a tax return with the IRS. Instead, the owner of the single-member LLC must report all income and expenses of the LLC on his 1040 tax return.

Is it OK to be a single-member LLC?

The single-member LLC business entity is an aatractictive one. Single member LLCs protect their owners personal assets from any liability associated with the business. For this reason, it is not ok to be a single-member LLC, but preferred. However, the liability protection that a SMLLC provides is not as strong as the liability protection that a multi-member LLC offers.

What are the benefits of a single-member LLC?

    ✅ Single Member LLC
  • Tax Flexibility
  • Liabilty Protection
  • Infinite Business Lifespan
  • Easy To Raise Capital
  • Easy To Expand Ownership
    ❌ Single Member LLC
  • Difficult To Form
  • Must Follow Guidelines

Is a single-member LLC the same as a sole proprietorship?

The IRS considers a single-member LLC as a “disregarded entity”. Consequently, for tax purposes, the IRS does not consider your business as a separate entity from you. For this reason, by default a SMLLC pays taxes the same way a sole proprietor would. However, there is an option available for single member LLCs to pay tax differently.

What is a single-member LLC classified as?

For income tax purposes, the IRS considers a single-member LLC as a “disregarded entity”, not separate from its owner. Unless the SMLLC files Form 8832 and elects different tax treatment, the IRS will treat the single member LLC as such. However, for employment tax purposes and specific excise taxes, the IRS considers a single-member LLCs separate from its owner.

Does a single-member LLC need to issue 1099?

If the company you are paying files taxes as a single-member LLC, the IRS considers them to be a “disregarded entity”, for tax purposes. As a result, the IRS views the payment as if you paid a “person”, for tax purposes, and you should file a 1099-NEC for them.

How do I pay myself as a single-member LLC?

In order to pay yourself as a single member LLC you make an owner’s draw. As a result of your SMLLC being a “disregarded entity”, your SMLLC's income is considered your personal income. At the end of the year, you report your earnings with Schedule C of your personal income tax return (IRS Form 1040).

Is it better to be a sole proprietor or LLC?

Generally, LLCs are better than sole proprietors. The reason for this is because LLCs protect your personal asset while being a sole proprietor doesn’t.

When you think about it, protection from liability is one of the key benefits of being an LLC. In an LLC, the owner is only liable up to the amount that he invested in the LLC. Any liabilities beyond the amount of that investment is protected by a corporate veil.