Can an Owner Of an LLC Be On a Payroll?



The structure of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) offers entrepreneurs and business owners a versatile and flexible framework for conducting their business affairs.

One common question that arises for LLC owners is whether they can be on a payroll, much like employees of larger corporations.

The intricate relationship between LLC owners and their companies sparks curiosity about whether such owners can receive regular salaries, benefits, and tax withholdings.

In this article, we will explore the possibilities, considerations, and legal aspects of putting an owner of an LLC on a payroll.

Understanding the Structure of an LLC

Before we explore the concept of an owner being on a payroll within an LLC, let’s review some essential aspects of this business structure:

  • Limited Liability: One of the primary advantages of an LLC is that it provides limited liability protection to its owners (often called members). This means that the personal assets of the members are generally protected from business-related debts and liabilities.
  • Pass-Through Taxation: By default, an LLC is a pass-through entity for tax purposes. This means that the profits and losses of the business “pass-through” to the individual members, who report this income on their tax returns. There is no separate federal income tax for the LLC itself.
  • Flexible Management: LLCs can be managed in various ways. They can be member-managed, where all members are actively involved in the business’s day-to-day operations, or manager-managed, where certain members or appointed managers oversee operations.

Can an Owner of an LLC Be on a Payroll?

The concept of putting an owner of an LLC on a payroll is feasible but comes with several important considerations:

1. LLC Taxation.

  •  By default, an LLC is not subject to federal income tax at the business level. Instead, the income and losses “pass-through” to the individual members’ tax returns.
  •  Because there is no separate federal income tax for the LLC, there is no traditional payroll system within the LLC structure.

2. Alternative Methods for Compensation.

   Instead of putting themselves on a payroll, LLC owners often receive compensation through a combination of methods, including:

  • Owner’s Draws: Owners can withdraw money from the business based on their ownership percentage. These draws are not considered wages but rather a distribution of profits.
  • Guaranteed Payments: In manager-managed LLCs, members serving as managers can receive guaranteed payments for their managerial services, which are similar to a salary.
  • Profit Distributions: Owners can share in the profits of the business based on their ownership interests.

3. Tax Considerations.

Compensation methods for LLC owners have tax implications. Owner’s draws are not subject to payroll taxes (e.g., Social Security and Medicare), but owners pay self-employment taxes on their share of the business’s net income.

Guaranteed payments and profit distributions are subject to self-employment tax as well. However, some LLCs elect to be taxed as S-corporations to mitigate self-employment tax liabilities.

4. Formal Employment Relationship.

If an LLC owner wishes to establish a formal employment relationship with the company, they can do so by electing S-corporation tax status.

In this case, the owner can become an employee of the company and receive a regular salary with tax withholdings.


While the concept of an owner of an LLC being on payroll may not fit the traditional payroll model, LLC owners have various methods to receive compensation, such as owner’s draws, guaranteed payments, or profit distributions. 

Each method has its tax implications and considerations, making it crucial for LLC owners to consult with tax professionals or accountants to determine the most advantageous compensation strategy based on their specific circumstances and goals. 

Additionally, electing S-corporation status may provide a more traditional payroll option for those owners seeking a formal employment arrangement within their LLC.

What do you think?

Written by Udemezue John

Hello, I'm Udemezue John, a web developer and digital marketer with a passion for financial literacy.

I have always been drawn to the intersection of technology and business, and I believe that the internet offers endless opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals alike to improve their financial well-being.

You can connect with me on Twitter


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