California law allows a business to incorporate and be recognized as its own legal entity. After incorporation, buying and selling property, assenting to contracts and exercising legal rights are considered acts of the business itself and not its owners. In California, the process of incorporation is begun by filing with the Secretary of State in accordance with certain guidelines.
Benefits of Incorporation in California
An incorporated business enjoys certain benefits, the most important being a limit of liability for the shareholders. The most shareholders can lose is the amount they invest in the business. Had the business remained unincorporated, owners risk losing their personal property should the business become unable to fulfill its liabilities. A corporation also allows creditors in the California area to assess the credit worthiness of the business as a whole rather than that of its owners, allowing the business to receive loans more easily. Lastly, a corporation's ownership stake is divided into equal slices or "shares" of stock, which make investments in the business much easier to transfer.
Costs of Incorporation
Along with a possible fee to file for incorporation in California, there are other costs that corporations incur. The most important is that a corporation is taxed as its own entity. In other words, the profits a corporation makes are now taxed separately, while any disbursements to shareholders are taxed as individual income. This is called double taxation. However, a business may avoid this disadvantage with proper planning and assistance from a local California lawyer.