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What Are the Different Types of Corporate Structures?

Corporate structures shape the backbone of the business world, each with unique features and benefits. From the widespread C-corporation to the flexible S-corporation, the partnership-oriented LLC, and beyond, these frameworks dictate tax obligations, ownership rules, and liability protections. Understanding these differences is crucial for any entrepreneur. How might the right structure elevate your business vision? Continue reading to find out.
Whitney Leigh White
Whitney Leigh White

There are four main types of corporate structures that businesses can organize themselves as: a General Corporation, an S-Corporation, a C-Corporation, or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). The structure that a business chooses to construct itself as determines how the company is financially taxed from any profits that it earns, making it very important to carefully choose the right type. A large amount of time and research is required in order to choose the right type of structure to follow. The General Corporation is the most common corporate structure that businesses follow, but, like all others, it also has its own advantages and disadvantages.

When a business incorporates itself as a General Corporation, stockholders are the owners. There is no limitation on how many stockholders can invest in a General Corporation and the investors are not liable to any business creditors. The personal liability of any stockholder is, most times, limited to how much he or she initially invested into the corporation. Companies that take part in this type of structure are obliged to more state and federal regulations than other types of companies, and this type is also more expensive to form. Some of the most advantageous aspects of creating General Corporations are the tax-free benefits and the easiness of raising capital.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

The “classic company structure” is referred to as the C-Corporation. Although these types of corporate structures are similar to General Corporations, there are significant differences. A C-Corporation must have a director that offers to sell shares to any existing investors before offering them up for sale to new ones. In the United States, not every state recognizes this type of structure, but those that do limit the number of shareholders from 30 to 50.

An S-Corporation, also referred to as a Small Corporation, is mostly found in businesses of small sizes. No more than 75 shareholders can take part in this type of corporation and they must decide on a single type of stock to be sold. All investors have to include the profits or losses that they incur through this type of corporation on their personal income, but this allows them to not be double taxed. The shareholders must also hold annual meetings in which each shareholder is present. Many small businesses prefer to organize themselves as an S-Corporation because limited liability protection is present and taxable gains are reduced if the company owner decides to sell the company.

In Latin America and Europe, of all corporate structures, the LLC is the most dominant. This type of organization allows the owners to protect their personal assets from any business debt. Many businesses prefer to organize themselves according to LLC corporate structures because they are allowed great flexibility when it comes to the management of the company. There are many foreign investors who prefer this type of structure because there are no ownership restrictions.

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Discussion Comments


How large does a business need to be to be considered a corporation?


How are corporate structures developed? Is it an organic process or something that is implemented intentionally?

Continuing with that idea, how would a company go about changing its corporate structure? I have mostly worked for small businesses and don't have many points of reference for corporate life.


Does anyone know about the corporate structure at Apple? They are one of the most profitable and consistently innovative companies on the planet and they obviously have a management style that is unorthodox. Has anyone worked for Apple before and seen how the corporate structure affects the people who work there?

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