Professional Practice Entities

Professional practices (such as doctors and lawyers) have a number of options as to their form of business entity.

Professional Corporations (PC)

These provide limited liability for general business debts but not for the professional's own malpractice and, in some states, no limited liability for malpractice of fellow practitioners in the firm. They may be C-Corps or S-Corps. Unlike many other C-Corps, a P.C. C-Corp can use the cash method of accounting.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Most states allow professionals to practice in LLC's, either under a general LLC law or a special Professional Limited Liability Company law (PLLC). In either case, liability is not limited for the professional's own malpractice but, depending on the state, may be limited for the malpractice of other firm members and for other firm debts. These LLC's share the comparative advantages (and minor disadvantages) of other LLC's.

Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)

LLP's are general partnerships whose general partners have limited liability. They are designed for professional practices. A partner is liable for his or her own malpractice but not for a partner's malpractice or, depending on state law, other acts of partners. Typically they are required by state law to maintain malpractice insurance, and are obliged to pay a per-partner fee to keep their status, but are not subject to entity-level tax.

Sole Proprietors and Partners

Many practitioners choose to practice as sole proprietors or partners, rather than in a limited liability entity. They reason that their main exposure to liability is to malpractice claims, and the entity won't protect against claims for their own malpractice (or, in some states, for a partner's malpractice). They therefore, choose to rely on malpractice insurance (which practitioners in limited liability entities may have too).

Tip: Sole proprietorships and partnerships are less likely than limited liability entities to be subject to state entity level tax.

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