Business owners, take note: thanks to a quiet revolution that has taken place in all but a handful of states, you've now got an exciting new option regarding your company's corporate status.
Known as the limited-liability company (LLC), this structure offers the best of all corporate worlds for many new businesses: personal-asset protection (normally available only to shareholders of C corporations), elimination of corporate-level taxes (a benefit normally reserved for partners or S-corporation owners), and flexible ownership rules (which S corporations in particular lack).
Although it's generally too expensive for existing corporations to make the switch to LLC status, the option is well worth considering for any start-up or fledgling business venture. Although there are already plenty of LLC guidebooks around, a good one is The Essential Limited Liability Company Handbook (Oasis Press, 800-228-2275, 1995, $19.95), by Corporate Agents, a company that specializes in handling incorporation issues. Besides offering a good discussion of the pros and cons of LLCs, the guide provides a valuable state-by-state breakdown of key rules and fees.