By Washington law, a business that has incorporated is identified thereafter as its own legal entity. This means that the business can buy or sell property, offer and accept contracts and exercise legal rights in its own name. The office of the Secretary of State is the agency that receives applications for incorporation in Washington, and they must be completed in conformity with certain guidelines.
Benefits of Incorporation in Washington
A corporation enjoys advantages that unincorporated companies do not. Primarily, it cannot be held accountable for an amount of debt greater than the value of the assets that the owners have invested in it. Had the business instead remained a collection of the owners' personal assets, the personal property of the stakeholders could be liquidated to pay the liabilities of the business, if it runs into financial issues. Also, creditors in the Mercer Island area typically prefer to deal with corporations, since a loan is an investment more easily evaluated when the credit-worthiness of various owners is not an issue. Lastly, ownership of a corporation is divided into equal portions or "shares" of stock, which may be bought and sold much more easily than the ownership of an unincorporated business.
Costs of Incorporation
Along with a possible fee to apply for incorporation in Washington, 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 might avoid this disadvantage with proper planning and assistance from a local Mercer Island lawyer.