Learn the basics of single-member LLC capital contributions to fund a successful, thriving LLC.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur, you might find yourself wondering: how does a single-member LLC capital contribution work? Capital contributions are essential, but they look a bit different for single-member LLCs than they do for multi-member LLCs.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials to single-member LLC capital contributions: what they are, how you can make them, and their benefits.
Capital contributions are financial investments by an LLC’s members. A single-member LLC capital contribution, then, is any financial investment that the LLC’s sole owner makes.
Capital contributions can help at any time, but the most crucial one is the initial capital contribution that gets the LLC up and running. Whenever a single-member LLC’s member makes a contribution, they should carefully document it.
These records are especially important for multi-member LLCs, but SMLLCs should make them, too. Keeping careful records helps protect your personal liability and corporate veil.
There are three primary types of capital contributions: cash, property, and services. Cash contributions are pretty straightforward, as the member contributes a lump sum of money. Property contributions can include real estate, office space, equipment, or any type of property.
Service contributions are a little more complicated (and less common). To make a service contribution, a member offers services that aren’t part of the LLC’s normal business in exchange for an ownership percentage of the LLC. For example, a member of a math tutoring LLC might offer to build the business’s website in exchange for LLC membership. You have to calculate a fair market price for these services to document them appropriately.
Typically, a single-member LLC owner makes property or cash contributions, not service contributions.
Capital contributions are crucial to a limited liability company’s success. For one, your LLC needs funds in its bank account to get up and running — and stay in operation. For example, your LLC might need to pay rent, purchase marketing materials, or order supplies. An initial capital contribution or even as-needed contributions can make that happen.
More importantly, capital contributions avoid a serious problem: undercapitalization. If you start a registered business entity without enough capital to maintain normal operations, a court could rule to pierce your business’s corporate veil. In a sense, you’d be acting more like a sole proprietorship than an LLC. That compromises your personal asset protection.
Making an initial contribution as a single member is actually pretty simple. When multi-member LLCs make contributions, they may have to make contributions together according to their membership percentage in the LLC, if that’s what’s stipulated in their operating agreement. But as an SMLLC, you have the only ownership percentage in the business. You get to draft the operating agreement, which governs how capital investments are made.
Often, making an initial contribution entails you transferring some of your personal funds into the LLC’s bank account. For future contributions, you can set a schedule for contributions or make them as needed. But whenever you make a contribution, you should keep careful records of what you contributed.
Ultimately, how much you contribute to your SMLLC is up to you. That said, you should contribute enough to cover your projected business start-up expenses. For many small businesses, this might just be a few hundred dollars. But if you want to put several thousand dollars (or more) into the LLC, you can do so.
It’s a good idea to conservatively estimate your projected revenue and expenses for the first several months. That way you have a good idea of the minimum initial contribution you should make. If it turns out that your initial contribution wasn’t enough, you can make additional contributions later.
Typically you can’t just “amend” a contribution after you’ve made it; it becomes property of the LLC itself. You can, however, make distributions to yourself from the LLC’s profits. That’s how you “pay yourself” from your LLC.
If you want to make additional capital contributions later, you can do so.
Not really. A contribution stays with the LLC after it’s made. You can only “get back” the full value of your contribution if you sell your LLC or dissolve it and distribute its assets back to yourself.
If you don’t want to stop owning your LLC, you can pay yourself through distributions from the business profits. If you’re just starting out, you might make more contributions than distributions. But as your business grows, you’ll hopefully enjoy profit distributions that are more valuable than the initial amount you invested.
In general, making a contribution isn’t a taxable event, especially for cash contributions. There are, however, some contributions that might have tax consequences, especially with property contributions. For example, let’s say you bought a property for $30,000 a few years ago. Today it’s worth $45,000, and you want to contribute it to the LLC. The gain for that appreciation might incur a tax liability.
The IRS also distinguishes between selling an asset or contributing an asset to an LLC. We highly recommend consulting with a licensed tax attorney if you’re dealing with property contributions.
Starting an SMLLC, but scared to go it alone? ZenBusiness has your back — let us handle the complicated red tape so you can focus on what makes your business unique. Whether you need help starting your LLC, drafting an operating agreement to govern your contributions, or managing your business finances, we can help.
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.
ZenBusiness is a financial technology company and is not a bank. Banking services provided by Thread Bank; Member FDIC. The ZenBusiness Visa® Debit Card is issued by Thread Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
Popular States to Form a Single Member LLC
The most common capital contribution is cash, but you can also contribute property, such as office space, vehicles, and equipment. It’s also possible to contribute services to an LLC.
Generally, you can’t write off capital contributions that you make on your personal tax returns. From a tax perspective, you haven’t realized any personal net gain or loss. Practically speaking, you’ve merely transferred that amount from your personal bank account into your capital account in the LLC.
You should make capital contributions in accordance with your operating agreement. The agreement might require regular contributions or “as-needed” contributions. Either way, a capital contribution often entails making a check out to the LLC. If you’re contributing property, you might need to transfer the title over to the LLC instead.
Any time you make a contribution, you should carefully document it: the amount contributed, when it happened, and confirmation that you contributed it.
It’s not uncommon for a small business to fail to turn a profit at first. Since you’re a single-member LLC, you won’t report it on Form 1065 (used to document partnership losses and gains). That’s for multi-member LLCs. Instead, you’ll report your loss on Schedule C of your personal tax return. If your business gained money, you’d report your share of profits there, too.
All LLCs are pass-through entities by default. They aren’t subject to corporate taxation unless they elect to be taxed as a corporation.
Start an LLC in Your State
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for forming an LLC.
Still Need to Form Your LLC?