My wife and I want to start our own business, but we can't decide if we should set it up as a partnership or a qualified joint venture. Is one method better than the other? Also, we'd like to pay our teenage twins to help us out. What's the best way to do this?
What state are you in? In some states, like Texas, you can forego the business return (like the 1065) and just file two Schedule Cs, splitting the business between you.
Filing as a qualified joint venture (QJV) is the easiest way to go if both you and your wife will materially participate in the business. You’ll include a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) for each of you on your jointly filed tax return. Each spouse reports his or her share of the business income and expenses (50/50, 75/25, etc.). If your business is profitable (which is our hope), you’ll both pay self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare taxes.) Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of filing as a QJV versus a partnership.
- It’s easy to set up.
- You only have to file an individual tax return, so there’s less paperwork and you can take care of everything with TurboTax.
- You don’t need an EIN (unless you are required to file employment, excise, or ATF returns).
- You can employ your children and they’ll be exempt from FICA until they turn 18 and FUTA until they turn 21.
- You can’t have any other members.
- Both spouses must materially participate in the business (no silent partner).
- You must file a joint tax return (but that’s usually not a bad thing).
- There is no distinction between you and the business, so you’re personally liable for any debts or obligations incurred by the business.
- You are not eligible for QJV treatment if you’ve already set up an LLC in a non-community property state.
- You can bring other people into the business (including your children when they reach the age of consent).
- You can file your individual tax return(s) jointly or separately.
- Both spouses aren’t required to materially participate in the business.
- You need an EIN.
- You need to register with your state. (This means there are additional implications if you move to another state.)
- You may incur legal fees. (You should draft an agreement to get the partnership started).
- You have to file a partnership return (Form 1065 and Schedule K-1 for the partners). You’ll need TurboTax for your individual return(s) and TurboTax Business for your partnership return.
- You’re personally liable for the partnership’s debts and obligations.
Employing your school-age children is a great idea and can save you money for a while.
- While working for your unincorporated business they’ll be exempt from FICA until they turn 18 and from FUTA until they turn 21.
- Employing your child shifts income from your higher tax bracket to your child’s lower tax bracket.
- Since your children will have earned income, they can set up Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) at an early age and develop good saving habits.
- Legitimately shifting income to your children may let you use education credits that would otherwise phaseout due to your AGI.
- Travel expenses for your children may be deductible when mixing business with vacation travel since the children will be your employees.
Keep in mind that your children must perform bona fide work for your business and receive a reasonable wage. Maintain contemporaneous records of their work and compensation and be sure to issue them W-2s each year.
Here are some great articles if you’d like a little more information:
Or, if you prefer guidance directly from the IRS:
My wife and I filed for a partnership with the IRS to receive an EIN. Are we still able to file as a Qualified Joint Venture? We have been using QuickBooks Self-Employed and have all of our information submitted through the app. Would we simply file jointly with Schedule C's?