Some business matters are governed by state laws, such as forming a business entity and filing annual reports. Others are governed by federal statute, such as registering intellectual property or paying corporate income tax. When you are operating a business, you may not have time to focus on critical legal matters.
Our South Carolina business lawyers understand state and federal laws and can help ensure your company remains compliant. Whatever your legal needs are, the seasoned attorneys at Sparks Law can help.
The structure in which your business operates impacts taxes, personal liability, and management. Whether you are just starting your business or thinking of converting your company into another legal entity, you should understand the requirements and advantages of each structure.
The simplest legal entity is a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is owned by one person who is liable for the company’s debts and claims profits on personal taxes. Although there are no state filing requirements, owners must secure business licenses and permits and register any names.
When at least two people found a business, they may choose to form a partnership, sharing profits, losses, and management. A limited partnership (LP) protects the owners from unlimited personal liability for business losses.
Owners must register the business name in the county where it operates, but no additional state filings are required. A local attorney can help you draft a partnership agreement that serves as a roadmap for you and your associates’ obligations and benefits.
Limited liability companies (LLCs) are useful for business owners who do not want to be personally liable for the company’s debts. Owners work with a pass-through tax structure in which the LLC is not taxed, but the profits are passed to the owners, taxed as personal income. To start a limited liability company, you must file Articles of Organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State, followed by annual reports with filing fees.
Corporations are the most complex legal structures, especially if the company intends to become public, that is, trade on a national stock exchange. Owners file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State to become a C corporation. Additional designations in South Carolina include S and B corporations, all of which afford owners protection from personal liability.
S corporations are C corporations in which the owners elect an IRS designation that allows income, losses, and deductions to be passed through to owners, much like an LLC. Restrictions apply, such as limiting shareholders to one hundred, all of whom must be U.S. citizens.
South Carolina also recognizes Benefit or B corporations, which benefit the public These companies operate for profit and are taxed the same as C corporations. It is best to consult a business attorney in South Carolina before choosing a legal entity.
All businesses are built on exchanges, and contracts allow those exchanges to happen. Some standard business contracts include:
A skilled lawyer familiar with contractual language can help you negotiate favorable terms in any business agreement.
If creative work, inventions, logos, or slogans are an important aspect of your business, you will likely need to protect your intellectual property. A diligent corporate law attorney can help you acquire patents, trademarks, or copyrights to protect your intellectual property. Our firm can also draft licensing agreements or defend your company in infringement disputes.
If you do not understand all the legal aspects of running a business, you are more likely to run into trouble down the line. Sparks Law can offer you legal guidance to protect your company.
Whether you are negotiating a merger, taking your corporation public, or filing a trademark, our law firm can help. Call us today to schedule your initial consultation with a South Carolina business lawyer.