September 16, 2016

Can an LLC Owned by Husband & Wife Change Tax Filing Status?

We have owned our business since 2004 and are a husband and wife LLC.  I am majority owner (75%) and my wife is 25%. We currently file with one joint personal return and one for the LLC taxed as a partnership. We have not filed for this year but want to change our filing status to be a disregarded entity.  Can I elect a disregarded entity and file only one return? The LLC was formed in Delaware and we are residents of Delaware and the business is located in Massachusetts. If so, is there anything special I need to do given that we filed separate business and personal returns previously?


Use IRS form 8832 to elect to have your LLC taxed as a disregarded entity (the only limited liability companies eligible for such treatment are single member LLCs and LLCs where the only two members are husband and wife):


Under IRS rules, you have to file the Form 8832 no later than 75 days after the date you want the new classification to take effect.

In your situation, it’s too late to elect disregarded entity status for last years return. However, you can file your Form 8832 to elect disregarded entity status going forward. Attach a copy of your Form 8832 to your partnership tax return when you file it.

is there any reason to continue to do the separate returns? Is there any other reason to do it besides the obvious administrative benefits?


If you are married, and file joint personal tax returns, I can’t think of any reason why your tax situation would change going from partnership taxation(where you and your spouse are the only members of the LLC), to disregarded entity status.

So yes, the advantage of disregarded entity status are the administrative benefits.

The only advantage to keeping it separate, and this is an “advanced” topic, is that as a disregarded entity, your income and expense statements are on your Schedule C, as opposed to a separate form 1065. Now, there are tax advisors who speculate that you are less likely to be audited if you file as a partnership using form 1065 rather than as a disregarded entity using Schedule C. The statistics do somewhat support that view.

That said, even the “increased” chance of audit using a Schedule C is about 2% (meaning, you have a 2% chance of being audited in any particular year).

With proper records and receipts, an audit should be nothing to fear. Furthermore, many audits are conducted through the mail, and do not involve an IRS agent physically rummaging through your desk drawers and files.

The administrative benefits of disregarded entity status accrue each year, while the chance of an audit is slim (you have a 98% chance each year of NOT being audited).

The choice is ultimately yours but you may want to engage a CPA to fully discuss the options.

Return to Ask A Question About Single Member LLCs.

Members are Husband & Wife in a community property state

For tax purposes, can an LLC whose only members are husband and wife be treated as a single member llc in a community property state (CA)?


For income tax purposes, an LLC owned solely by husband and wife can be treated as a single member limited liability company. This includes election as a disregarded entity.

Whether the limited liability company is formed in a community property state is not relevant for this purpose–LLCs in all states can elect single member llc status if owned by a husband and wife who file their income taxes jointly.

Of course, being in a community property state will obviously have an impact on distribution of the LLC membership interests in the event of a dissolution of the marriage.

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