Under Pennsylvania law, a business may incorporate. If it chooses to do so, it is thereafter recognized as its own legal entity. As a separate entity from the owners, the business is then considered to be acting on its own when it buys and sells property, assents to contracts and exercises legal rights. The Pennsylvania Secretary of State receives and processes applications for incorporation, which must be submitted in compliance with local guidelines.
Benefits of Incorporation in Pennsylvania
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. Without incorporation, the personal property of business owners is at stake should the company become unable to pay its debts. A corporation may also find it easier to finance itself through loans, allowing creditors in the Philadelphia County area to evaluate their investment by assessing the corporation rather than the individual credit-worthiness of its owners. Lastly, a corporations charter requires that ownership be divided into stakes or "shares" of stock, all of equal size. This makes the process of transferring control much more practical.
Costs of Incorporation
These advantages come at a price. First, incorporation in Pennsylvania may require a filing fee. Second, a corporation pays taxes just like any other entity. The individual incomes of owners who are paid disbursements from the corporation's earnings are still taxed as well. This is called double taxation, but it can be avoided with proper planning and assistance from a local Philadelphia County lawyer.