Drawbacks to Incorporating

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Before an entertainer decides to incorporate, he/she must first evaluate the application of Internal Revenue Code Section 269A. This section can be debilitating to the tax benefits of incorporating. Section 269A addresses the PSC and the services performed by it.

§ 269A(a): “If (1) substantially all of the services of the personal service corporation are performed for (or on behalf of) 1(sic) other corporation, partnership or other entity, and (2) the principal purpose for forming, or availing of, or such personal service corporation is the avoidance or evasion of Federal income tax by reducing the income of, or securing the benefit of any expense, deduction, credit, exclusion, or other allowance for, any employee-owner which would not otherwise be available, then the Secretary may allocate all income, deductions, credits, exclusions, and other allowances between such personal service corporation and its employee-owners, if such allocation is necessary to prevent avoidance or evasion of Federal income tax or clearly to reflect the income of the personal service corporation or any of its employee-owners.”

These words empower the government to disregard all of the tax planning done by the employee. If the government feels that “substantially all” of the income of the employee is from one source, the tax benefits afforded the loan-out corporation can be set aside. This issue was addressed by the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Sargent v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The case involved a hockey player who incorporated in order to place money in a pension plan for himself.

As discussed above, § 401 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for the corporate retirement plan contribution to be deducted by the corporation while not constituting income to the employee until the money is distributed by the plan. The hockey club contracted with Sargent’s PSC for his services and paid the corporation its contractual fee. The IRS issued a tax deficiency notice to Sargent for unpaid taxes, which was appealed to the Tax Court for consideration.

The Tax Court agreed with the IRS that the corporation set up by Sargent was merely a form of assigning income to the corporation and that Sargent was still liable for the taxes. The issue in the Tax Court was whether Sargent was an employee of the hockey team or his PSC. If he was an employee of the PSC, then the deductions taken for pension plan contributions were allowable. If he was an employee of the hockey club, then his pension plan contributions were not deductible, and the income from the hockey club would be attributed to Sargent as an individual and not to his PSC.

* For specific inquiries regarding a business legal matter that you may have, you are contact our Tax Attorney in Los Angeles.

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The Tax Benefits of Incorporation to the Entertainer (Part 2)

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This is the part 2 of the second section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the tax benefits of incorporation to the entertainer.

The only difference between a corporation and an individual taxpayer is the application of the rate of tax to the taxable income.” Section 1(c) applies to the individual taxpayer and requires taxation at the highest level of 39.6%. Section 11, which applies to the corporate taxpayer, requires taxation at the highest level of 35%. While it may seem that the 4.6% difference in maximum taxation rates is inconsequential, the §1(c) rate of 39.6% is applied to taxable income over $250,000. The §11 tax rate of 35% is applied to taxable income exceeding $10,000,000.

The foregoing analysis, though, is altered when applied to a personal service corporation (“PSC”) (also known as a loan-out corporation). Section 11(b)(2) states that the qualified PSC will be taxed at a rate of 35%.  “The [Internal Revenue] Code provides for the taxation of the taxable income of certain personal service corporations at the highest corporate [tax] rate, thereby depriving these corporations of the benefit of lesser, graduated tax rates on taxable income not in excess of $75,000″ (Ness and Vogel, 1991).  The corporation with very little taxable income will be taxed at the same rate as large corporation with a large amount of taxable income. Section 11(b)(2) only applies to those PSCs that are qualified as defined by Internal Revenue Code § 448(d)(2).

Therefore, a corporation which is substantially involved in the performing arts (among other specified industries, including accounting, law, and engineering), and where substantially all of the stock in the corporation is held either directly or indirectly by an employee performing the services in which the corporation is substantially involved, then the corporation is a qualified PSC.

* For specific inquiries regarding a tax planning legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Woodland Hills Tax Lawyer services page.

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