A Partnership consists of two or more individuals in business together. Partnerships may be as small as mom and pop type operations, or as large as some of the big legal or accounting firms that may have dozens of partners. There are different types of partnerships—general partnership, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership—the basic differences stemming around the degree of personal liability and management control.
- Synergy. There is clear potential for the enhancement of value resulting from two or more individuals combining strengths.
- Partnerships are relatively easy to form, however, considerable thought should be put into developing a partnership agreement at the point of formation.
- Partnerships may be subject to fewer regulations than Company.
- There is stronger potential of access to greater amounts of capital.
- No corporate income taxes. Partnerships declare income by filing a partnership income tax return. Yet the partnership pays no taxes when this partnership tax return is filed. Rather, the individual partners declare their pro-rata share of the net income of the partnership on their individual income tax returns and pay taxes at the individual income tax rate.
- Unlimited liability. General partners are individually responsible for the obligations of the business, creating personal risk.
- Limited life. A partnership may end upon the withdrawal or death of a partner.
- There is a real possibility of disputes or conflicts between partners which could lead to dissolving the partnership. This scenario enforces the need of a partnership agreement.
As pointed out, unlimited liability exists for partnerships just as for sole proprietorships. One way to alleviate this risk is through Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP’s). As with LLC’s, LLP’s may offer some tax advantages while providing some risk protection for owners.