A disregarded entity refers to a business entity with only one owner that is not recognized for tax purposes. In such cases, no tax return need be filed for the disregarded entity. The individual or corporate owner reports all income of the disregarded entity on its own individual or corporate tax return.
For example, a single-member LLC ( “SMLLC”) is considered to be a disregarded entity. For federal and state tax purposes, the sole member of a SMLLC disregards the separate legal status of the SMLLC otherwise in force under state law.
As the result of being “disregarded,” the SMLLC does not file a separate tax return. Rather, its income and loss is reported on the tax return filed by the single member:
A SMLLC is not the only entity treated as a disregarded entity. Two other corporate forms are also disregarded:
However, SMLLCs are by far the most common disregarded entity currently in use.
So, basically for federal tax purposes, the SMLLC does not exist. All its assets and liabilities are treated as owned by the single owner corporation. It is sometimes referred to as a “tax nothing.”
Even though a disregarded entity’s tax status is transparent for federal tax purposes, it is not transparent for state law purposes. Remember, an LLC is a corporation under state law and its shareholders enjoy certain legal protections. For example, an owner of an SMLLC is not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the entity.
Note, however, since the entity is disregarded, the owner is generally treated as the employer of the disregarded entity employees for employment tax purposes.
Finally, keep in mind that some states, like Pennsylvania, require that state tax returns be filed for these disregarded entities.
For further details on disregarded entities or how this tax strategy may fit into your business operations, please contact our offices.