Selecting a Business Partnership Type
A partnership is a business with several individuals, each of whom owns part of the business. The relationship between the partners and the duties of partners are clarified in the .
In any partnership, each partner must "buy in" or invest in the partnership. Usually, each partner's share of the is based on his or her percentage share of ownership.
The term "partnership" has changed over the years, as business people have come to add new features to the old business form. These are intended to help reduce the liability issues with partnerships. The most used partnership types are listed here, with their features, to help you decide which type you might want to use.
Partnerships are formed by state laws, so some partnership types may not be available in some states.
A is a partnership with only. Each general partner takes part in the management of the business and also takes responsibility for the liabilities of the business. If one partner is sued, all partners are held liable. General partnerships are the least desirable for this reason.
A limited partnership includes both general partners and limited partners. A limited partner does not participate in the day-to-day management of the partnership and his/her liability is limited. In many cases, the limited partners are merely investors who do not wish to participate in the partnership other than to provide an investment and to receive a share of the profits.
Considering Liability in Partnerships
The general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship in the liability of owners. In both cases, the owner or owners have full liability for the debts of the business and for their actions. That's why new partnership types were set up to limit the liability of one partner for the actions of other partners. in general means that the liability of any one partner is limited to that person's investment in the partnership.
In a limited partnership, limited partners have limited liability because they don't participate in management decision-making. General partners don't have limited liability because they are active in making decisions - and being liable for them.
Limited Liability Partnerships
A (LLP) is different from a limited partnership or a general partnership but is closer to a . In the LLP, all partners have limited liability.
An LLP combines characteristics of partnerships and corporations. As in a corporation, all partners in an LLP have limited liability, from errors, omissions, negligence, incompetence, or malpractice committed by other partners or by employees. Of course, any partners involved in are still personally liable, but other partners are protected from liability for those acts.
LLC or Partnership?
In recent years, the has become more common than the general partnership and the limited partnership, because it has more limited liability for the owners (as the name suggests).
But there are still cases in professional practices in which some partners want to be limited in the scope of duties and they just want to invest, having the liability protection.
You might have also considered setting up your multiple-person business as an LLC. While a multiple-member (owner) LLC is taxed like a partnership, there are differences in liability and in other ownership provisions. Read more about the differences between an .
Joint Ventures as Partnerships
The lists a joint venture as a type of partnership. A joint venture is typically a partnership between different businesses formed for a specific purpose (like making a movie or building a structure) or for a specified time period.
Qualified Joint Ventures as Partnerships
A is a special kind of partnership in which two spouses who jointly own a business can elect to file separately to avoid having a file a complicated partnership tax return. You can read more about , and the restrictions.
Types of Partners
Just to confuse the issue, a partnership can have different types of partners - . There can be both types of partners in any type of partnership except for the general partnership, which has only general partners. Briefly, the two types of partners:
- General partners, who invest in the partnership, participate in the day-to-day operations and are liable for debts and lawsuits of the partnership
- Limited partners, who invest in the partnership but who have no participation in day-to-day operations and who are not usually considered to have liability.
Partnerships and Tax Issues
As you are you should also consider how a partnership (and a multiple-member LLC) is taxed. The partnership, as a whole, files an on and the individual partners receive a showing the share of the partnership profits or losses for the year. Read more about .
This is a general overview of these partnership types. This article describes the