Skip to content

How To Pay Yourself From an LLC – Step-by-Step Guide 2024

How To Pay Yourself From an LLC
(Last Updated On: December 6, 2023)

Our content is reader-supported. We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links.

 

Step into the world of financial autonomy! As an entrepreneur and member of an LLC, have you ever wondered how to reward yourself for your hard work and dedication? In this intriguing journey, we’ll uncover the secrets of how to pay yourself from an LLC, empowering you to strike the perfect balance between business success and personal prosperity. 

And if you’re seeking seamless LLC services to simplify your entrepreneurial endeavors, look no further than ZenBusiness—a trusted companion on your path to entrepreneurial excellence.

Start Your LLC with ZenBusiness

Determine the Type of LLC

When determining the type of LLC, there are two primary categories to consider: 

  1. Single-member LLCs: This type of LLC consists of a single owner. As the sole owner, you have more flexibility in paying yourself. Typically, you can transfer funds directly from the business account to your personal account. However, it is still crucial to maintain proper documentation and comply with tax regulations.
  1. Multi-member LLCs: In a multi-member LLC, there are multiple owners or members. The process of paying yourself becomes more complex as you need to consider the interests and contributions of all members. Options for paying yourself from a multi-member LLC may include guaranteed payments, profit distributions, or a combination of both. 

Consulting with professionals is crucial because the process of paying yourself from an LLC can vary based on local laws, tax regulations, and the specific circumstances of your business. They can provide guidance tailored to your needs and ensure compliance with all relevant legal and tax requirements.

How Do You Pay Yourself From an LLC?

To pay yourself from an LLC, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Establish an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a legal document that outlines the internal workings and structure of an LLC. It defines the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the LLC’s members and provides guidelines for managing the company’s operations. The operating agreement is significant for several reasons:

  • Clear Guidelines: The operating agreement establishes clear guidelines for the distribution of profits among LLC members. It outlines how the profits will be allocated and whether there are any specific conditions or criteria for making distributions.
  • Member Roles and Responsibilities: The operating agreement defines the roles and responsibilities of each member within the LLC. This includes clarifying who has the authority to make financial decisions, including paying salaries to members.
  • Customization: The operating agreement allows LLC owners to customize the payment structure based on the needs and goals of the business. It provides flexibility in determining how and when members can pay themselves from the company’s profits.
  • Legal Protection: Having a comprehensive operating agreement in place helps protect the interests of all LLC members. It can help prevent disputes and misunderstandings by clearly outlining the rules and procedures for paying oneself and managing finances within the LLC.

When it comes to paying yourself from an LLC, the operating agreement plays a crucial role. It serves as a reference point for determining the proper process, ensuring that all members are treated fairly and in accordance with the agreed-upon guidelines. 

Step 2 – Separate Business and Personal Finances

Maintaining separate bank accounts for your LLC is crucial for legal protection and financial clarity. By separating business and personal finances, you protect personal assets, track business transactions accurately, and present a professional image. 

To open a business bank account and obtain a separate credit card, research suitable financial institutions, gather required documents, and follow their procedures. Track business expenses and income meticulously to ensure compliance and make informed financial decisions. By upholding the separation of accounts, you strengthen your LLC’s credibility and foster long-term success.

Step 3 – How to Pay Yourself from a Single Member LLC

To compensate yourself from a single-member Limited Liability Company (LLC), it is customary to execute an owner’s draw. As a single-member LLC, your business is considered a “disregarded entity,” wherein the profits of your company and your personal income are treated as the same. At the end of the fiscal year, you must report these earnings using Schedule C of your personal tax return (IRS Form 1040). 

Implementing an owner’s draw serves as a formal recognition that a portion of your LLC’s income is being retained as earnings within the company, while the remaining amount is being allocated for personal use.

The process of executing an owner’s draw can be summarized in two straightforward steps:

  • Issue a business check from your LLC’s bank account, reflecting the specific amount you wish to withdraw from the business. Subsequently, deposit this check into your personal bank account.
  • Document the withdrawal in your financial records as an owner’s draw, which denotes a reduction in your owner’s equity account. This entry can be recorded as a credit against your owner’s equity or capital account.

Tax Considerations for Owner’s Draws

As a sole proprietor, it is essential to understand that you are liable to pay income tax on all profits generated by your business, regardless of the actual amount you withdraw for personal use. Even if you choose to retain your profits within the company, you remain obligated to fulfill tax obligations associated with your earnings.

In addition to federal, state, and local income taxes, self-employment taxes apply to the owner’s draw. Like FICA taxes withheld from an employee’s paycheck, self-employment taxes comprise Social Security and Medicare payments. The current self-employment tax rate is set at 15.3%.

Step 4 – How to Pay Yourself From a Multi-member LLC

Determining the appropriate method of payment for members of a multi-member LLC depends on the entity’s classification as a partnership or corporation. This article explores the intricacies of paying oneself in both partnership and corporate LLC structures, shedding light on the tax implications and options available to LLC members.

Paying Yourself with a Partnership LLC

In a partnership LLC, members can receive their earnings as draws, similar to single-member LLCs. However, it’s important to understand that the partnership itself is considered a “pass-through” entity, meaning it does not pay taxes. Instead, each member is responsible for paying a proportionate share of the total income tax based on the partnership agreement.

  • Allocation of Income: At the end of the fiscal year, each member receives an IRS Schedule K-1 from the partnership, indicating their share of the partnership’s income. This schedule is then used to prepare the individual member’s personal income tax returns. It is worth noting that even if a member does not draw their entire share of the earnings, they are still required to pay income tax on the full allocated amount.
  • Self-Employment Taxes: While the money drawn by partners is not subject to income tax again, it is important to be aware of self-employment taxes. Partners are obligated to pay self-employment taxes, amounting to 15.3% of the drawn income. These taxes contribute to Social Security and Medicare programs.
  • Protecting Income: To safeguard income during the initial stages of LLC growth and ensure partners receive a minimum amount, it is advisable to establish guaranteed payments. This arrangement guarantees partners a specific payout, irrespective of the company’s profitability.

Paying Yourself from a Corporate LLC

In a corporate LLC, whether it is classified as an S corporation or a C corporation, shareholders (LLC members) cannot receive draws. Instead, they must be employed by the corporation and compensated through a salary.

  • Dividends as Additional Income: In addition to their salaries, shareholders have the opportunity to receive a percentage of the corporation’s income as dividends. The exact amount of dividends is typically specified in the articles of incorporation.
  • Tax Considerations: When employed by a corporation, income tax, and payroll taxes are automatically withheld from the shareholders’ salaries. However, it is important to note that C corporations are subject to double taxation. This means the corporation itself is taxed on its income, and shareholders are required to pay personal income tax on any wages or dividends they receive.
  • The Benefits of Dividends: Dividends, unlike wages, are exempt from payroll taxes. Therefore, the greater the portion of income received as dividends, the lower the tax liability. However, it is crucial to ensure that “reasonable compensation” is paid to oneself as an employee, as mandated by the IRS.

Step 5 – Document Payments and Maintain Records

Documenting payments made to yourself from the LLC is crucial for transparency, compliance, and establishing a clear financial record. Comprehensive records, including transaction details such as date, purpose, amount, and payment method, serve as evidence and provide support during audits, inquiries, and legal disputes.

Types of Records to Maintain

There are several types of records that you should maintain to effectively document payments and ensure proper record-keeping:

  • Payroll Records: Detailed payroll records should be maintained, including payroll periods, gross and net earnings, taxes withheld, and deductions.
  • Bank Statements: Retain bank statements to document financial transactions related to the LLC’s accounts, providing a clear record of deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.
  • Receipts and Invoices: Maintain copies of receipts and invoices for expenses or payments made on behalf of the LLC, serving as proof of expenditure and validating transactions.
  • Expense Reports: Keep detailed expense reports for business-related expenses, including information on the nature of the expense, date, amount, and supporting documentation.

Top 5 LLC Services to Start an LLC

To simplify the process, let’s explore how five top LLC services—ZenBusiness, Swyft Filings, Tailor Brands, Northwest Registered Agent, and Bizee—can help you pay yourself from an LLC.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness is a comprehensive LLC service that offers a range of services, including formation, registered agent services, annual report filing, and more. While ZenBusiness primarily focuses on formation services, their ongoing compliance features can also help you with paying yourself from your LLC. They provide tools and resources to help you navigate the process and ensure that you stay compliant with legal and tax obligations.

Swyft Filings

Swyft Filings is another prominent LLC service that assists with LLC formation and ongoing compliance needs. Although they do not specialize in financial management or payment services, Swyft Filings can still provide valuable guidance on paying yourself from your LLC. They offer personalized support to help you understand the appropriate steps to take and comply with relevant regulations.

Tailor Brands

Tailor Brands is a unique service that primarily focuses on logo design and branding for businesses. While they may not directly offer LLC formation or compliance services, they can still play a role in helping you pay yourself from your LLC. A strong brand presence and professional image can positively impact your business, attracting more customers and revenue. By enhancing your business’s brand identity, Tailor Brands indirectly contributes to your ability to pay yourself.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is an LLC service specializing in registered agent services and business compliance. Although they do not offer extensive financial management tools, they provide excellent support in meeting legal requirements for your LLC. Their registered agent service ensures you receive important legal and tax documents, including information related to paying yourself. With their assistance, you can stay informed and compliant throughout the process.

Bizee (Previously Incfile)

Bizee is widely recognized as a reputable LLC service provider that offers a comprehensive suite of services for business formation and ongoing compliance. With its user-friendly platform, bizee facilitates a seamless experience in establishing your LLC and effectively managing your business. Their expertise and support in LLC management can significantly benefit your business’s financial aspects and ensure adherence to regulatory requirements.

How Much to Pay Yourself From Your LLC?

Determining the appropriate salary to pay yourself from your LLC can be a complex task. It is important to strike a balance between paying yourself adequately and avoiding potential tax issues. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you pay a “reasonable” salary, but they do not provide a clear definition of what that means.

To determine a reasonable salary, you can follow these steps:

  • Calculate your personal expenses for the year and determine the minimum amount you need to earn to cover them.
  • Consult with an accountant and review your business’s financial records to determine how much your company can afford to pay you beyond covering personal expenses.
  • Research industry and job position earnings statistics to find the average salary range for your particular role.
  • Based on the information gathered, set a reasonable salary for yourself.

It’s important to find the right balance between salary and dividends. By paying yourself a lower salary and receiving more income as dividends, you can potentially reduce your tax obligations. However, it is crucial to consult with an accountant who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Remember that these guidelines are meant to provide a general approach, and it is always advisable to seek professional advice from an accountant or tax specialist to ensure compliance with tax regulations and maximize your financial efficiency.

How to Pay Yourself From an LLC – Bottom Line

In conclusion, paying yourself from an LLC requires establishing an operating agreement, separating finances, documenting payments, and maintaining accurate records. Seeking guidance from professionals like tax advisors and accountants is crucial for compliance. Services like ZenBusiness can simplify the process, providing support in managing payments and ensuring regulatory adherence. By following these steps and leveraging professional assistance, LLC owners can achieve financial stability and focus on growing their businesses.

About the author

Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, a distinguished legal scholar with a business law degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science, is a leading expert in business registration and diverse business departments. Renowned for his academic excellence and practical insights, Dr. Sterling guides businesses through legal complexities, offering invaluable expertise in compliance, corporate governance, and registration processes.

As an accomplished author, his forthcoming book is anticipated to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the dynamic intersection of law and business, providing clarity and practical wisdom for entrepreneurs and legal professionals alike. With a commitment to legal excellence, Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.

Tags: