Home Blog Bookkeeping Sole Proprietorship: definition, meaning, features, advantages

Sole Proprietorship: definition, meaning, features, advantages

what is a sole proprietorship

Consulting with business counselors, attorneys, and accountants can prove helpful. With over a decade of editorial experience, Rob Watts breaks down complex topics for small businesses that want to grow and succeed. His work has been featured in outlets such as Keypoint Intelligence, FitSmallBusiness and PCMag. Julia is a writer in New York and started covering tech and business during the pandemic.

what is a sole proprietorship

Many also believe a sole proprietor increases the risk of the tax authorities treating the person as an employee rather than an independent contractor. Sole proprietors are required to fill out the standard 1040 tax form for individual taxes as well as a Schedule C form, the form businesses use to report profits and losses. However, because the business is not taxed separately, the government determines how much tax is owed based on the combined income of both Form 1040 and Schedule C. An S corporation, sometimes called an S corp, is a special type of corporation that’s designed to avoid the double taxation drawback of regular C corps.

Start Paying Other Taxes

Any excess self-employment taxes can be rolled over to the following year, or refunded. The IRS offers a great deal of helpful information for self-employed individuals online at their Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center. The requirements may be obtained by contacting the county or city clerk responsible for issuing business licenses.

what is a sole proprietorship

Millions of sole proprietorships are operating in the United States, making it one of the most popular forms of business ownership. Someone is also considered a sole proprietorship for tax purposes if they are the single member of a domestic LLC. Keeping business records and finances separate from personal activities is essential when tax time rolls around. While sole proprietors are not required to file a separate business tax return, they are required to report their business activities on a separate schedule to their personal tax return. A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that’s owned by the individual running it. A sole proprietorship is the default choice for anyone who runs a business but hasn’t set up another formal business structure like an LLC.

Harder to get financing and business credit

It can be difficult for individuals to manage all aspects of their business properly. The owner can hire employees, outside help, or get professional advice on parts of the business process. There is no legal separation between the owner and the business, so the owner gets 100% of the profits. Although all profits go to the owner, taxes are paid once, and proprietors pay taxes individually. Sole proprietors can use their personal Social Security numbers to identify their businesses, if they have no employees.

If you have a name that you want to use that feels more recognizable and eye-catching, make sure you factor the registration costs into your original budget. Typically, this will involve submitting your LLC application with your state’s Secretary of State, Business Bureau or Business Agency. An LLC is a business entity that’s created by filing paperwork with your state. Although becoming a sole proprietor has its benefits, there are some disadvantages as well. Unfortunately as a sole proprietor, business liabilities are also personal liabilities. To change from a sole proprietor to LLC, you must file articles of organization with your secretary of state, refile your DBA to maintain your trade name and get a new EIN from the IRS.

What is Sole Proprietorship?

There are no major upfront costs, and you’re only responsible to yourself for the continued operation of the business. For this reason, it is common among small businesses, freelancers, and other self-employed individuals. If you are going to sell taxable products, you will need to register for a sales tax license with your state. The main benefits of a sole proprietorship are the pass-through tax advantage, the ease of creation, and the low fees for creation and maintenance. Since you’re starting an individual consulting business, your business name can be your personal name as a trade name or a business name.

what is a sole proprietorship

A distinct disadvantage, however, is that the owner of a sole proprietorship remains personally liable for all the business’s debts. So, if a sole proprietor business runs into financial trouble, creditors can bring lawsuits against the business owner. If such suits are successful, the owner will have to pay the business debts with his or her own money. https://www.bookstime.com/ You can, but it requires you to dissolve the LLC first, which is known as a dissolution. Then, you have to alert all of your creditors that you are dissolving the LLC so that you can receive your final bills from them and pay them. You must also file all tax forms with the federal government as well as on the state and local levels if necessary.


With sole proprietorships, on the other hand, you generally do not need to register with the state; instead, you become a business entity merely by virtue of doing business. There are a few distinctions in operating a business as a sole proprietorship vs. an LLC. As a sole proprietor, there’s no separation between you and your business. You’re not obligated to separate your personal and business bank accounts and credit cards.

  • Sole proprietorships are popular because of the simplicity of getting started.
  • People who are self-employed do not have the advantage of having taxes withheld from their paychecks to cover their tax obligations at the end of the year.
  • But setting up a sole proprietorship is simple enough in most cases that you can do it without a lawyer, though it’s a good idea to consult one anyway.
  • If you run a freelance writing business from your home, you may need a general business license, or no license at all.
  • Instead of starting a small business as an LLC or corporation, many are opting for a sole proprietorship.
  • A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that one person owns and manages.

A sole proprietorship is also a tax entity, and the IRS considers your business income as part of your personal tax return. As a sole proprietor, all of your business’s income is considered your personal income. So even if you had a separate business bank account that you drew a salary from, all of the money your business made—not just the salary you’re choosing to withdraw—would be taxed as your personal income. Since it’s easy and inexpensive to set up, you can quickly legitimize your side hustle. If you have a candle-making hobby, you can ask around local stores to see if they’re interested in selling items from local artisans. It’s easy to transition your sole proprietorship into an LLC or a corporation once you start making money and proving yourself in your chosen field.


The main difference between a sole proprietorship and an LLC is increased liability and responsibility for the owner, along with legal protection and possible tax advantages. There are many pros to setting up a sole proprietorship, sole proprietorship the greatest of which is that it is the easiest and least expensive business type to set up. The term simply describes a person who owns a business, and is personally responsible for its operation, as well as its debts.

It’s all going to depend on your income, business type and your personal management preferences. Sole proprietors are personally liable for all debts of a sole proprietorship business. Let’s examine this more closely because the potential liability can be alarming. Assume that a sole proprietor borrows money to operate but the business loses its major customer, goes out of business, and is unable to repay the loan. The sole proprietor is liable for the amount of the loan, which can potentially consume all her personal assets. Most people interested in entrepreneurship have heard the term sole proprietorship many times.


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