Business Entities in the US
There are many types of business entities in the United States for two reasons. First, there is no federal registration. Each state authorizes legal entities by statute and common law. These tables summarize the various business entities and key terms for each.
Second, a complex tax code creates a level of variation for most types of legal entities. For example C Corporations and S Corporations are both corporations under state law, but each takes advantage of different subchapters of the tax code.
Business Entity Types
Types of Business Entities in the United States
|Officers & Directors
|Limited Liability Company
Types of Corporations
The corporate form is flexible. These are five of the more common type of corporations from a tax code perspective.
Types of Corporations in the United States
|Type of Corporation
Non-Profits are typically organized under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for tax purposes. There are many other types of non-profit tax registrations.
The Professional Corporation designation is not a product of the tax code. It is a create of state law. Not all states authorize Professional Corporations.
Types of Limited Liability Companies
Limited liability companies are products of state law. Most states have adopted a form of the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.
Types of LLCs in the United States
|Type of LLC
The LLC is also a flexible legal form. Smaller LLCs often use the Member Managed form where the members also run the business as officers. Manager Managed LLCs separate oversight by owners (members) and operations (managers).
LLCs can also opt to be taxed like a corporation with entity level taxation, but this is not typical.
Many LLCs adoption the nomenclature of corporations, such as a Board of Directors and officers.
Some states authorize a master LLC form called a Series LLCs.
Types of Partnership
Generally (pun intended), partnerships are unincorporated business entities. There are several forms of partnership governed both by common law and statue.
Types of Partnerships in the United States
|Type of Partnership
|Only General Partner
|Limited Liability Partnership
|Limited, like LLC
|Limited Liability Limited Partnership
|General Partner has limited liability
The LLLP (or triple LP) is much less common than other forms of partnership. Partnerships benefit from pass through tax status.
For a detailed discussion of business entities see our analysis of 30 years of data about business entity incorporation.