LLC vs. DBA vs. Corporation (Inc.): Comparing Business Structures for Success

LLC vs DBA vs Corporation

When considering the best structure for your growing business, it’s helpful to understand the differences between an LLC vs. DBA vs Corporation (Inc.) Each entity type offers unique benefits and drawbacks, which can significantly impact your operations and tax obligations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the nuances of each business structure, exploring their definitions, advantages, disadvantages, and tax implications. Understanding these distinctions lets you make well-informed decisions about your company’s future and compare the three entities.

We will also analyze these three entities to help you understand their similarities and differences. This knowledge will prove invaluable when determining which option aligns with your needs as a small business owner or online seller.

Finally, we’ll provide insights on choosing the correct entity based on various factors and offer guidance on setting up your preferred business structure. Our goal is to empower you with all the necessary information so that you can confidently take steps toward expanding your enterprise in a way that suits legal requirements and personal aspirations.

LLC Vs. DBA Vs. Corporation Takeaways

  • A DBA is an easy way to create a business name without establishing a company, doesn’t require incorporation or forming an LLC, and is usually inexpensive. It also doesn’t offer any kind of legal protection.
  • An LLC is a famous business structure that provides limited liability protection for personal assets against lawsuits related to the company’s debts or obligations.
  • Incorporating your business can provide limited liability protection and tax advantages but comes with compliance requirements that vary depending on the type of corporation you choose. 
  • C corporations offer more flexibility regarding stock classes and the number of shareholders but are subject to double taxation.
  • S corporations avoid double taxation by passing income directly to shareholders but have limitations on stock classes and the number of shareholders.
  • Choosing the proper business structure is crucial for small business owners and entrepreneurs. When deciding between an LLC, Corporation (Inc.), or DBA, it is essential to consider factors such as tax implications, liability protection, growth potential, and ongoing formalities.
  • Before registering your business as an LLC, DBA, or Corporation, conducting a thorough name search is crucial to ensure that the chosen name is not already used.

Understanding DBAs

DBA (Doing Business As) is a fictitious name under which sole proprietorships and partnerships can operate. It allows businesses to accept and deposit checks made to the chosen business name while maintaining their current tax status. Filing for a DBA is relatively easy, inexpensive, requires less paperwork than other options, and some states require annual refiling.

The process of filing for a DBA

Filing for a DBA involves registering your desired business name with the appropriate government agency in your state or county. The specific requirements may vary depending on your location; therefore, researching local regulations before proceeding with DBA filing is essential. Filling out an application, paying fees, and supplying documents such as I.D. or business registration (if necessary) are usually part of filing a DBA.

Benefits of using a DBA for small businesses

  • Simplicity: A DBA offers simplicity compared to legal structures like limited liability companies (LLCs) or corporations since fewer compliance requirements are involved.
  • Credibility: Using a professional-sounding business name instead of operating under one’s name can improve customer and supplier credibility.
  • Economical: Registering as a fictitious business usually costs less than forming an LLC or incorporating it due to lower initial setup fees and ongoing maintenance expenses.
  • Tax Flexibility: Sole proprietors who use a DBA maintain their current tax status without having separate filings associated with more complex structures like LLCs or corporations.

While a DBA offers several advantages, it’s essential to remember that this structure does not provide limited liability protection for personal assets against business debts and obligations. Exploring other options like LLCs or incorporating may be more suitable for those seeking additional legal safeguards.

Filing for a DBA can be a promising approach to safeguard your enterprise resources and aid you in distinguishing yourself from competitors. Small businesses can benefit from limited liability protection by forming an LLC while taking advantage of tax benefits.

Limited Liability Companies Explained

An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a famous business structure formed under state law as its legal entity is separate from its owners. This structure provides limited liability protection for personal assets against lawsuits related to the company’s debts or obligations. In addition, forming an LLC offers increased credibility compared to operating without any formal structure like sole proprietorship or partnership. It also comes with recurring operation fees depending on your location.

How an LLC Provides Liability Protection

The primary advantage of forming an LLC is the limited liability protection it offers to its members (owners). Unlike sole proprietors and general partners in partnerships, who are personally responsible for all business debts and liabilities, LLC members’ assets remain protected from creditors seeking repayment for the company’s debts. If your landscaping business faces financial difficulties or gets sued your home, car, and other belongings won’t be at risk.

  • Tax implications: An LLC can choose how it wants to be taxed – either as a disregarded entity (for single-member LLCs), partnership (for multi-member LLCs), C corporation, or S corporation.
  • Flexibility in management: Unlike corporations that require a board of directors and adherence to strict corporate governance rules, an LLC allows flexibility in managing the business’s day-to-day operations.
  • Ease of formation: Forming an LLC involves fewer steps than incorporating a business while providing valuable benefits such as limited liability protection and tax advantages.

Tax Implications of Forming an LLC

One of the significant benefits of forming an LLC is its tax advantages. By default, LLCs with one owner are treated as sole proprietorships, and those with multiple owners are taxed as partnerships. LLCs can also be classified as C or S corporations for tax purposes. Business profits and losses pass through to the members’ tax returns, avoiding double taxation.

Although not mandatory, an LLC may be taxed as a C corporation or an S corporation instead of its default classification. This may provide additional tax savings depending on your specific situation. For example:

  • C Corporation Taxation: If you expect your business to generate substantial profits retained within the company for future growth or expansion rather than being distributed among members immediately, electing C corporation status could result in lower overall taxes.
  • S Corporation Taxation: An S corporation election allows income and certain deductions (such as fringe benefits) to flow directly to shareholders without being subject to corporate-level taxes first, potentially saving money on taxes while providing limited liability protection.

In addition to these federal tax implications, it’s essential to consider state-specific sales tax collection rules and other local requirements when deciding whether forming an LLC suits your business needs.

In summary, establishing an LLC is an excellent option to shield one’s possessions and supply legal security for the proprietor. However, incorporating your business can also be beneficial in terms of tax implications and compliance requirements – C corporations vs. S corporations will need to be explored further.

Incorporating Your Business – C Corps vs. S Corps

Incorporating your business creates either C corporations or S corporations that provide similar limited liability protections as an LLC and additional tax advantages such as deductions unavailable for sole proprietors. Corporations allow businesses more significant opportunities for growth by taking on new owners/investors but may have higher compliance requirements than other structures.

Differences between C corporations and S corporations

  • C Corporation: A C corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, providing them with limited liability protection. It can issue multiple classes of stock, has no restrictions on the number of shareholders, and is subject to double taxation (the company’s profits are taxed at the corporate level, while dividends paid to shareholders are also taxed).
  • S Corporation: An S corporation offers many of the same benefits as a C corporation but avoids double taxation by passing through its income, losses, deductions, and credits directly to its shareholders. Unlike a C Corporation, an S corporation is limited to one class of stock and has a maximum of 100 shareholders who must all be U.S. citizens or residents.
MarkCuban S

To learn more about these two types of corporations and their differences, you can visit this informative guide provided by the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA).

Compliance requirements when incorporating

Incorporating your business comes with specific compliance requirements that vary depending on whether you choose a C or S corp structure. Some typical responsibilities include:

  1. Filing annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  2. Preserving precise and current financial records.
  3. Submit annual reports and any required fees to your state’s Secretary of State office.
  4. Holding regular board meetings and keeping minutes of those meetings.

In addition to these general requirements, specific obligations may vary depending on your industry or location. It is essential to consult a legal professional or accountant familiar with your business type and local regulations to guide incorporating and maintaining compliance in the long run.

Establishing a C Corp or S Corp for your enterprise can be critical to ensuring its sustained prosperity. Choosing between a Corporation, LLC, or DBA is the next step in setting up a successful and compliant company structure that meets your needs.

Choosing Between a Corporation, LLC, or DBA Based on Your Needs

Selecting a suitable business structure can be an intimidating challenge for numerous small-business proprietors and entrepreneurs. Before deciding, it is essential to consider the various factors associated with each business structure. It is essential to consider various factors when choosing between registering your company as a Corporation (Inc.), forming an LLC, or filing for a DBA.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Business Structure

  • Tax implications: Each of these structures has different tax advantages and disadvantages. For example, LLCs offer pass-through taxation, while corporations allow more deductions unavailable to sole proprietors.
  • Liability protection: LLCs and corporations provide limited liability protection that shields personal assets from being seized in case of company debts or obligations lawsuits. On the other hand, DBAs do not offer liability protection since they are not separate legal entities.
  • Growth potential: If you plan on expanding your business by taking on new investors or partners, incorporating may be more suitable due to its ability to issue shares and attract funding easily.
  • Ongoing formalities: Corporations require higher compliance than other structures like LLCs which have fewer ongoing requirements such as annual meetings and record-keeping practices.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Each Option

To make an informed decision about which structure best suits your needs, it is crucial to understand the pros and cons based on specific circumstances surrounding your venture.


  • Easy and inexpensive to setup
  • Requires less paperwork
  • Suitable for small businesses or side hustles
  • No liability protection
  • No tax advantages compared to other structures.


  • Provides limited liability protection
  • Pass-through taxation benefits
  • Flexibility in accounting methods and management structure
  • Can own real estate through the business entity
  • Recurring operation fees depending on your location
  • More complex than a DBA but simpler than incorporating


  • Limited liability protections are similar to LLCs
  • Additional tax advantages like deductions unavailable for sole proprietors
  • More significant opportunities for growth by taking on new owners/investors. 
  • Compared with other structures (e.g., annual meetings), higher compliance requirements may be more expensive and time-consuming to establish

Conducting a thorough name search before deciding and registering with the appropriate government agency is essential. Next, we’ll explore how to perform a comprehensive name search when choosing a business structure.

Conducting a Business Name Search

Conducting a thorough business name search before registering any of these structures is essential to ensure that another entity within your state does not already use the chosen name. States require businesses to register their DBAs so consumers and the public know who operates under fictitious names.

Importance of Checking for Existing Business Names

Selecting an appropriate and unique business name is crucial for establishing your brand identity, avoiding legal issues, and ensuring smooth operations. A unique business name helps you stand out from competitors while preventing potential trademark infringement lawsuits or customer confusion. Additionally, many states have strict regulations against using identical or similar names as existing businesses to protect consumer interests.

How to Perform a Comprehensive Name Search

  1. State-Level Searches: Start by searching your desired business name on the Secretary of State’s website in the state where you plan to operate. Most states offer online databases where you can quickly check if another registered entity has taken your preferred name.
  2. Federal Trademark Database: Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database through their Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This will help identify federally registered trademarks that may conflict with your proposed business name.
  3. National Domain Registry: Check domain availability for websites related to your desired company’s title using tools like GoDaddy’s Domain Name Search. This will help you determine if a similar name is already being used online and may also assist in securing your desired website domain.
  4. Local Business Directories: Perform searches on local business directories such as Yelp, Google My Business, or Yellow Pages to identify businesses with the same or similar names operating within your region.
  5. Social Media Platforms: Finally, search for your proposed business name across popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to ensure that no other companies use the same name.

Doing these activities can assist in evading possible lawful problems as well as helping to form a powerful brand character from the beginning. Conducting a comprehensive business name search is essential to successfully registering your DBA, LLC, or Corporation (Inc.) Invest time and effort into this process before moving forward with registration.

Frequently Asked Questions: LLC vs. DBA vs. Corporation

What is the difference between a DBA, LLC, and a corporation?

An LLC (Limited Liability Company) protects personal liability and has pass-through taxation. A corporation is a separate legal entity with shareholders, offering limited liability but subject to double taxation.

What is the benefit of an LLC vs. a DBA?

An LLC offers personal liability protection for its owners, separating their assets from business debts. It also has flexible tax options compared to a DBA, which does not provide liability protection, and taxes are reported on the owner’s tax return.

What is the benefit of an LLC vs. a Corporation?

An LLC typically has a more straightforward management structure and fewer compliance requirements than a corporation (Corporation (Inc.)). Additionally, it benefits from pass-through taxation, avoiding double-taxation issues C corporations face. However, raising capital may be easier for corporations due to share issuance.

Is a DBA the same as incorporated?

No, a DBA is not equivalent to being incorporated. A DBA simply allows you to use another name for your business without creating a separate legal entity like incorporating does through forming either an LLC or Corporation.


Deciding which business entity best suits your objectives and requirements is vital for small businesses, online sellers, and side hustlers. Comprehending the disparities between LLCs, DBAs, and Corporations can assist you in making a wise decision that is compatible with your ambitions and requirements.

LLCs offer flexibility and limited liability protection, DBAs are simple to set up but don’t provide liability protection, and Corporations offer strong liability protection but come with more formalities. Consider taxes, legal requirements, ownership structure, and personal preferences when deciding which entity is best for your business.

If you’re unsure which option is right for you or need help setting up your chosen entity type correctly, check out Seller Journal. They have plenty of resources available to help guide you through the process!


The Seller Journal may receive a commission from purchases made through links in this post. Click here to learn more about how we treat affiliate links and content that contains them. As an Amazon Associate, The Seller Journal earns from qualifying purchases.