LLC Guaranteed Payments Guide

An LLC Guaranteed Payments Guide explains the predetermined payments made to LLC members, regardless of the company's profits, which are akin to a salary and can provide stable income for members.

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Guaranteed payments are used to schedule minimum payments for LLC members to ensure that they receive payment even if the company isn’t profitable. Because LLC members receive a distributive share of profits once a year, guaranteed payments are used to pay members on a consistent basis. The specifics of how guaranteed payments will be made should be included in the LLC operating agreement for all multi-member LLCs.

What is a guaranteed payment for LLCs?

A guaranteed payment for LLC members is comparable to a C or S corporation shareholder or employee salary. Because LLCs are treated as a pass-through entity and don’t pay federal income taxes on their profits, guaranteed payments are treated as business entity expenses and pass through to the member, who pays income taxes and self-employment taxes on their payments.

LLC members will report their guaranteed payments as taxable income by filling out a K-1 form at the end of the year.

Draw Payments vs. Guaranteed Payments

Although draw payments are similar to guaranteed payments, they’re not the same. A draw payment comes directly out of the member’s equity and is later paid back when they receive their distribution of profit share.

Draw payments and guaranteed payments are taxed as normal income on the individual member’s personal tax return. 

Guaranteed Payments vs. Distributions

Unlike guaranteed payments, which are dispersed throughout the year, distributions are only given out at the end of a year. A distribution is an annual payment of a member’s proportional earnings from the business, also known as a distributive share. Distributions aren’t guaranteed income, and if the company is not profitable, members will not receive any distributions. 

How do guaranteed payments work?

Guaranteed payments are paid out to the members throughout the year according to the terms of the LLC’s operating agreement. Unless an LLC is taxed as a corporation, the members can’t be employed by the LLC, so they can’t get a normal employee salary.

Guaranteed payments are tax-deductible expenses for an LLC, so they reduce the LLC’s net profit. The deductions are reported on Form 1065 in a multi-member LLC.

Members who receive guaranteed payments will have to pay federal income tax and self-employment taxes (the taxes that go toward Social Security and Medicare) on them, just as they do for their share of business profits.

Tax Implications of Guaranteed Payments

Are guaranteed payments subject to income tax?

Guaranteed payments are subject to self-employment taxes, federal income tax, and any other applicable state and local taxes. The members pay this on their individual tax returns.

Are guaranteed payments tax deductible?

For the LLC, guaranteed payments to LLC members are a tax-deductible expense. They reduce the company’s profits. If the LLC is a multi-member LLC taxed as a partnership, the guaranteed payments would be reported on Form 1065.

Learn about other LLC tax write-offs

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

LLC Guaranteed Payments FAQs

  • As limited partners in a business venture, it’s natural to expect to receive some amount of payment as profit from your involvement. However, the question of whether a limited partner can receive a guaranteed payment is not a simple one. While the short answer is yes, a limited partner can receive a guaranteed payment, whether such a payment is allowed will depend on the specifics of the partnership agreement.

  • Guaranteed payments are minimum payments that are paid to LLC members throughout the year. A draw payment is treated as an advance payment coming directly out of the LLC member’s equity and deducted from their end-of-year profit share.

  • Yes. They’re subject to self-employment taxes, federal income tax, and any applicable state and local taxes.

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