August 08, 2019

Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating as a Sole Proprietorship

As you graduate dental school, you typically must think about becoming an associate or purchasing your own practice. Whichever road you choose, various advisors most likely will bombard you with information concerning all the things you need to do to prepare to travel it.

One decision you do need to make rather quickly involves which tax entity you will choose. A taxable entity is an individual or business that, as the name implies, must file a tax return and pay income tax on earnings. Individuals and corporations are subject to income tax and both are considered taxable entities. My colleague, Mike McAninch, recently addressed three types of tax entities popular among dentists.

Why do you need to make your entity selection so quickly? Well, you may need a tax ID number, either to provide to your employer in certain cases or, if you’re purchasing a practice, to the bank. You can’t obtain a tax ID number without first selecting which entity type you’ll be.

Let’s take the time to explore one of your options – becoming a sole proprietor. As a sole proprietor, you will capture your income and expenses on Schedule C of IRS Form 1040 (your personal tax return). Typically, your tax ID number will be your Social Security number.

Here are some advantages to selecting a sole proprietorship as your tax entity:

1) Sole proprietorships are the easiest entity to form.

2) Because your income and expenses are reported on Schedule C of IRS Form 1040, you only need to pay to prepare and file one federal tax return.

3) Unlike with C Corporations, you are only taxed once on the profits from your business, when you file your personal tax return.

4) If you are an associate and paid as an independent contractor, any unreimbursed business expenses are deductible on Schedule C. Such tax-deductible expenses may include CE, travel and association dues (again, as long as your employer doesn’t cover them).

Here are some disadvantages to selecting a sole proprietor as your tax entity:

1) There is unlimited personal liability because there is no legal separation between you and your business.

2) There can only be one owner of a sole proprietorship.

3) As a sole proprietorship, you will need to pay self-employment tax in addition to your personal income tax. This is calculated based upon your Schedule C income and represents both the employer and employee share of payroll tax.

These are just a few of the advantages and disadvantages of operating as a sole proprietorship, so consult your attorney and your accountant before settling on an entity. However, you still should have an understanding of the ins and outs of your options in order to make an informed decision.

This commentary originally appeared July 31 on

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The opinions expressed by featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of Buckingham Strategic Wealth®. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.

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About the Author

Katie Collins

Practice Integration Advisor

As a practice integration advisor, Katie works directly with clients to develop a financial plan personalized for their specific situation and goals. She quarterbacks the entire financial picture, often for clients who have never put all the pieces together with one advisor. Katie joined Buckingham Strategic Wealth through the 2014 merger with Indiana-based Hufford Advisors, where she spent more than 10 years working in various financial planning roles, most recently as a senior planning consultant.