Most small business owners form what are called “pass-through” entities. Two examples of a “pass-through” entity are S-corporations and Limited Liability Companies. A pass-through entity means that, for tax purposes, the income of the business passes through to the business owners, and the business owners are taxed themselves.
As a general rule, forming a Florida corporation or LLC does not provide liability protection to its business owners for tax liabilities. This rule was made clear in the case of Littriello v. United States, 484 F.3d 372 (6th Cir. 2007). In this case, Plaintiff Littriello challenged the validity of the Treasury Department’s “check-the-box” regulations, 26 C.F.R. §§ 301.7701-1 to 301.7701-3. Littriello had incorporated several separate LLC’s, and he was the sole owner of each LLC. The operations of the LLC resulted in unpaid federal employment taxes totaling $1,077,000. Of course, the Internal Revenue Service brought actions against Littriello personally for these unpaid taxes. One of Littriello’s arguments to the Court was that the IRS had disregarded the separate existence of an LLC under state law. In their seven page opinion, the Court discussed the history of the “check-the-box” regulations and the difference between pass-through taxation and corporate taxation. After an extensive analysis, the Court found that the IRS may seek unpaid employment taxes from the sole owner of an LLC.