Articles Posted in Partnerships

iStock-621263016-300x97[This started out to be a three-part series, but it now has five parts. The first three parts are here, here, and here.]

In writing the first three parts of this series, we ran across several issues that Senate Enrolled Act 443 either raised or left unresolved. This Part IV describes some minor flaws that are unlikely to be consequential but that, nonetheless, we hope the General Assembly will address, either in the 2018 session or another.

Relationship to ESIGN

iStock-621263016-300x97[This is the third of a five-part series discussing the Business Entity Harmonization Bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017. The first two parts are here and here.]

Senate Enrolled Act 443 creates, effective as of January 1, 2018, a new Article 0.6, the Uniform Business Organization Transactions Code, in Title 23 of the Indiana Code. In previous versions of the statute, provisions dealing with mergers, conversions, and domestications of business corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), and nonprofit corporations were scattered across several articles of Title 23. The Uniform Business Organization Transactions Code gathers most of them into one article that, in general, applies at least as broadly as each corresponding provision of the former statute, and in some cases more broadly. In addition, the new article provides for the acquisition of ownership interest (i.e., stock in a corporation or interest in a partnership or LLC) by another entity.

Conversions, mergers, and domestications effect changes in organization that could be accomplished by other means, but with different tax or legal consequences. For example, instead of converting to a limited liability company, a corporation could form a new LLC, transfer all its assets to the LLC, and dissolve, distributing the interest in the LLC to its shareholders. However, that process will have tax consequences that can often be avoided by conversion. In addition, all the corporation’s contracts will need to be assigned to the LLC, and those assignments may require the consent of the other parties to the contracts. In most cases, consent of the other party to a contract is not required for a conversion because a conversion preserves continuity of identity. Even though the converted entity has a different name and will be governed by different laws, it is treated as if it is the same entity that existed prior to conversion. The same is true for domestication and mergers, at least with respect to the entity surviving a merger.

iStock-621263016-300x97[This is the second of a five-part series discussing the Business Entity Harmonization Bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017. An overview of the bill is provided in Part I.]

Senate Enrolled Act 443 creates, effective as of January 1, 2018, a new Article 0.5 in Title 23 of the Indiana Code, the Uniform Business Organizations Code, that includes a number of provisions that apply to Indiana business corporations (including professional corporations and benefit corporations, but excluding insurance companies), limited liability companies (LLCs, including series LLCs), limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), and nonprofit corporations, eliminating a number of inconsistencies between similar provisions for different types of entities. The following discussion is a brief description of some of the more important provisions, drawing attention to new or substantially changed provisions.

Chapter 2, Filing

iStock-621263016-300x97Indiana law provides for several types of business and nonprofit entities, each of which is governed by one or more articles of Title 23 of the Indiana Code, all of which require similar filings with the Indiana Secretary of State, and all of which are capable of undergoing transactions such as mergers and conversions into other types of entities. The types of entities and the governing portion of Title 23 are:

iStock_000023649013Small.jpgLast year the Indiana Court of Appeals decided a case that illustrates some of the hazards of operating a business as a general partnership. The case is Curves for Women of Angola vs. Flying Cat, LLC.

In 2001, a married couple, Dan and Lori, purchased a fitness and health franchise known as Curves for Women that they intended to operate in Angola, Indiana. The franchise agreement, which Dan and Lori both signed, contained the following affirmation:

We the undersigned principals of the corporate or partnership franchisee, do as individuals jointly and severally, with the corporation or partnership and amongst ourselves, accept and agree to all of the provisions, covenants and conditions of this agreement[.]

At no time did Dan and Lori form a corporation or limited liability company to own the franchise – not before signing the franchise agreement and not after.

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[This is the fourth post in a seven-part series discussing the characteristics of limited liability companies and comparing them to the characteristics of corporations, general partnerships, and sole proprietorships. Here’s the entire list.

Part 1. Background on sole proprietorships.
Part 2. Background on partnerships.
Part 3. Background on corporations.
Part 4. LLCs are distinct legal entities, separate from their owners.
Part 5. A limited liability company’s owners are not liable for the LLC’s obligations.
Part 6. Options for an LLC’s management structure.
Part 7. Options for an LLC’s tax treatment.]

iStock_000005422636XSmall.jpgTo set the background for a discussion of the basics of limited liability companies, we’ve discussed sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. As we’ll see, a limited liability company shares some characteristics with corporations and other characteristics with sole proprietorships (if the LLC has one owner, called a member) or partnerships (if the LLC has more than one member).

The first thing to recognize about a limited liability company is that it is a separate legal entity, apart from its owners. How does that compare to the other structures? First, a sole proprietorship is NOT a separate legal entity apart from its owner. If you’re running a business as a sole proprietorship, you really ARE the business, and the business is you.

At the other end of the spectrum, a corporation is a distinct legal entity, completely separate from its shareholders. For example a corporation can sue and be sued in its own name, It can enter into contracts in its own name. And it can go into bankruptcy without dragging its owners with it.

In the middle of the spectrum is a partnership. Without getting into all the details, I’ll just say that for some purposes a partnership has the characteristics of a separate legal entity, and for other purposes a partnership is treated more like the aggregate of all the partners.

So in this sense, a limited liability company is just like a corporation. It is a separate legal entity, apart from its members. It can sue and be sued; it can enter into contracts; and it can go into bankruptcy, all apart from its members. And all that is true even if the LLC has only a single member.

Next we’ll discuss another way that a limited liability company is like a corporation — the liability shield.
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[This is the second post in a seven-part series discussing the characteristics of limited liability companies and comparing them to the characteristics of corporations, general partnerships, and sole proprietorships. Here’s the entire list.

Part 1. Background on sole proprietorships.
Part 2. Background on partnerships.
Part 3. Background on corporations.
Part 4. LLCs are distinct legal entities, separate from their owners.
Part 5. A limited liability company’s owners are not liable for the LLC’s obligations.
Part 6. Options for an LLC’s management structure.
Part 7. Options for an LLC’s tax treatment.]

iStock_000000489267XSmall.jpgIn the last entry, I began a discussion of the basics of limited liability companies. To start that discussion, I began by describing the first of three other types of business structures: sole proprietorships. This entry is about partnerships, and the next will describe corporations.

In a sense, a general partnership is like a sole proprietorship, but with multiple proprietors. Each partner is liable for all of the obligations of the partnership. In other words, a creditor of the partnership can sue any or all of the partners to collect what the partnership owes. Income taxes are also similar, but things get a little more complicated with multiple owners.

For tax purposes, a general partnership is a “pass-through entity.” Unlike a sole proprietorship, a partnership has to file a tax return, called Form 1065. However, the partnership itself does not have to pay taxes. Form 1065 is used to calculate the partnership’s profits or losses and other “tax items,” which are allocated to the partners, most often in proportion to their ownership interests. In other words, the tax items are “passed through” to the partners, and each partner receives a report from the partnership called a Schedule K-1 that tells the partner how much income, etc. to report on his or her own personal tax return. Then the partner pays income tax as an individual.

One more point worth noting about taxes. If the partner is actively involved in the operation of the partnership — in essence, if the partner is “employed” by the partnership — he or she is considered to be self-employed and must pay self-employment tax on his or her share of the partnership’s income. Again, being a partner is very much like being a sole proprietor, except for the “sole” part.

The general partnership is an old form of business association. For instance, in Dickens‘s A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley were partners. “The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.” Id. at p. 3. Of course, I’m not holding out Scrooge and Marley as a typical partnership or as a model of customer service. The example came to mind only because last month our family attended the Indiana Repertory Theater‘s annual production of A Christmas Carol, and I’ve always liked that line.

In the next entry, I’ll describe corporations, and then (finally!) get around to discussing limited liability companies.
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