How to Pay Yourself as An LLC

by Finance Tips

As an entrepreneur, understanding how to efficiently and legally pay yourself from your Limited Liability Company (LLC) is crucial for both your personal and business financial health. Whether you’re a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC, the process of paying yourself requires careful consideration of tax implications and legal requirements. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this important aspect of business ownership.

Understanding Your LLC Structure

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize that an LLC can be a single-member or a multi-member entity. A single-member LLC is treated as a disregarded entity for tax purposes, akin to a sole proprietorship. This means that the income and expenses of the LLC pass through to the owner’s personal tax return.

Paying Yourself as an Owner

As an LLC owner, you typically have two ways to pay yourself:

  1. Draws: You can take money out of your LLC as needed. These are called draws, and they are not subject to tax withholding. However, come tax time, you will pay taxes on the LLC’s profits, regardless of whether you kept the money in the company or took it out.
  2. Salary: If your LLC is taxed as an S corporation (S corp), you can also pay yourself a salary. This requires you to withhold taxes from your paycheck. The benefit here is that as an S corp, you can save on self-employment taxes by splitting your income between a salary and distributions.

Determining Reasonable Compensation

If you choose to pay yourself a salary, it’s vital to determine what the IRS considers “reasonable compensation.” This is especially true for LLCs taxed as S corps. Your salary should reflect the going rate for similar services in your industry and region.

Leveraging Tax Benefits

One of the significant advantages of an S corp structure is the potential for tax savings. For instance, while you must pay FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) on your salary, distributions are not subject to these taxes. Moreover, the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction allows you to deduct up to 20% of your business income, which can significantly lower your tax bill.

Steps to Switching to an S Corp

If you’re considering switching your LLC to an S corp to take advantage of these benefits, you’ll need to file Form 2553 with the IRS. This election can be complex, so consulting with a tax professional is advisable.

Practical Example

Let’s say your LLC makes $100,000 in a year. As a single-member LLC, you’d pay self-employment taxes on the entire amount. However, as an S corp, you could pay yourself a reasonable salary (say $40,000) and take the remaining $60,000 as a distribution, reducing your FICA tax liability.


Paying yourself from your LLC involves more than just transferring money from your business account to your personal account. It requires a strategic approach to minimize taxes and comply with legal standards. By understanding your LLC’s structure and the tax implications of your compensation, you can make informed decisions that benefit both you and your business.

Remember, while this guide provides a general overview, your specific situation may require tailored advice. Always consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before making significant changes to how you pay yourself from your LLC.

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Silvia Manent, Manent Capital

Silvia Manent, CFA, CFP®

Silvia is the Founder and Managing Partner of Manent Capital, a Boston-based wealth management firm that focuses on helping women understand their personal and business finances so that they can feel accomplished, confident and excited about investing in their future dream goals.


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