A sole proprietorship is one of the less formal ways of running your business. You generally don't have any forms to fill out, and you operate under your own name. Your business doesn't have a separate legal existence from you as a person, meaning that your income and expenses appear on your income tax return, which has several advantages.
As a sole proprietor, you report your business income on your personal income tax return, which is convenient because you only have to file one return. You do have to fill out Schedule C, however, which lists your income and expenses; your net sole proprietorship income flows onto your individual Form 1040 return. If you incorporated your business, you will need to file a separate tax return for the company, which increases the time and expense of tax filing.
Potential Lower Rates
Income from your sole proprietorship is taxed at your individual income tax rate, which may be lower than the corporate tax rates. For example, if the corporate tax bracket is 39 percent and your individual income rate is 28 percent, you'll save on the tax difference. Besides the potentially lower tax rates, you'll also avoid the double taxation that affects corporations. Corporate income from a C Corporation is taxed in the year it's earned on the corporate return and then taxed a second time when the income is distributed to the owners. With a sole proprietorship, you only pay individual income taxes on it once -- when you earn it.
If you have losses in your sole proprietorship for the year, you can use these losses to offset other income. For example, assume that your sole proprietorship has a $10,000 loss for the year. If you work a second job as an employee that pays you a salary of $40,000, you can use that $10,000 to reduce your other taxable income to $30,000. If you incorporated your business, the company's losses would be stuck with the company and could only be used when the company had future profits.
Net Loss Uses
If you have a loss from your sole proprietorship but don't have any other income to offset, you're not out of luck. Instead, you can carry it back for the prior two years or carry forward the loss for the next 20 years to offset your future gains. For example, say you have a $10,000 loss in the first year and no other income to offset. When you make a profit of $90,000 in the second year, you can carry that loss forward to bring your taxable income down to $80,000 in the second year.
Read More: Net Operating Loss for a Sole Proprietorship
Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."