No, a capital contribution isn't necessary. But typically you would, and should, make one. You would because there’s almost no way to start a business with zero invested in it. And you should because if your corporation is “under-capitalized”, then you could be exposing yourself and fellow shareholders or members to personal liability, making the formation of the entity a waste of time and money. And it takes more than $1.00 to protect yourself (but nice try).
Any corporation can be an S Corporation, unless it doesn’t meet certain criteria. For example, an S Corporation cannot be owned by another corporation, with certain very narrow exceptions. And sometimes you don’t want your corporation to be an S Corporation, for example, when you are seeking VC investments.
For a corporation to be an S Corporation, the paperwork to make that effective is due no more than two months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year the election is to take effect (yes, I copied that from the IRS instructions). If you’re really ahead of the game, then anytime during a tax year preceding the year you want it to be in effect. For new corporations, the tax year typically begins on a day other than January 1, unless you formed on that date. So, for example, if your corporation was formed on July 8, then the S Corp election would be due 15 days after September 7, or September 22.
Can I cause my corporation to be an S Corp at the end of the year, after I see how my year has been?
You wish. But no. Congress treats this election as a go-forward business decision, not a look-back election. The good news is that it’s easy to revoke, or even “bust”, the election. But be careful about switching back and forth – as in, things don’t work that way.
You’re going to get different answers, depending on the advisor you ask, and the state you’re in. Generally, though, best practice is yes, and sometimes required. PS - If you're keeping this a secret from your spouse, then an S Election is not your biggest problem.
Yes. It’s really that simple. Here’s a link to the IRS page that’s chock full of info. PS - Spouses too.
Short question . . . long answer. For the most part, the classic answer, which is also correct, is a C Corporation (or an S Corporation) provides limited liability for its owners and management. An S Corporation could provide additional tax benefits. On a less obvious level, having your business in a corporation may provide it with more “respect” in the business community, and may fend off nuisance suits.
It can, but not always. It’s not often the case that a business will put their business into an entity solely to save on taxes, although S Corporations for small businesses are frequently and legitimately used for that purpose.
If you have an existing business, then its assets and contracts should get transferred to your corporation. This can look like an assignment, or a bill of sale. There are tax considerations regarding contribution of the assets of your existing business. You may also need to notify third parties, such as vendors and landlords. A stitch in time, as they say. Paperwork is king.
The answer in most situations is going to be yes. One of the virtues of an LLC is its simplicity. Once you choose to form your business as a corporation (and then an S Corporation), or to have your LLC elect to be taxed as an S Corporation, costs for tax returns, payroll, corporate state compliance paperwork, and other accounting items get triggered. You'll need to balance the benefits of an S Corporation against the ease of use that comes with an LLC.