Incorporation Day Jitters
I can’t talk business right now. I’m getting married in two weeks and I can’t deny that I’m a little bit nervous. It’s not like stage fright. I’m a part-time DJ — I have no problem getting up in front of people. And it’s not a fear of commitment — there’s no doubt in my mind that she and I are meant to be. It’s just…all this paperwork! I’ve learned from past business ventures that there’s always the risk of failure — that’s business. But from an entrepreneur’s point of view, this marriage thing is a bit scary; the tax benefits are terrible and the liability is over the top.
In fact, I’m beginning to think my fiancÃ©e and I should just incorporate, rather than marry.
I mean, the process of getting the marriage license calls for both parties to appear at the courthouse — with Social Security card, birth certificate and driver’s license. Fork over a crisp Benjamin, raise our right hands and swear in. And that’s just for permission to get married. Really? I have registered a few businesses and it took just a few minutes online. My EIN came in the mail and that was it; My LLC was incorporated. It takes a little more paperwork to get the tax benefits of an S-Corp, but balance that with the paperwork of developing a family.
I’m not taking a cold-shouldered stance against familial bonds, nor am I saying we should eliminate the ceremony and traditions — I’m all about that stuff. I can’t wait to get in an expensive suit and celebrate love with our families and closest friends. But as far as the government is concerned, our ceremony is nothing more than arts & entertainment commerce. If the feds were invited to our wedding, they’d probably be less into the spiritual aspects of the day and more concerned with whether the musicians are claiming the full balance of their cash fees on their annual return. Really, the government shouldn’t have anything to do with the connection between the two of us, but since they insist on getting all up in our business, why don’t we just make that business an actual business?
The reality is, business partners get so much more for their labor than marriage partners. They also have the benefit of billions of dollars lobbying to reduce the cost of running a business in America. If we incorporate as “Shank Family, LLC”, every dollar we spend on shelter, food and utilities could be classified as overhead — a business expense. The rest of the money we reinvest back into the business. We could consider all family members the company’s intellectual property and call paychecks from their day jobs “royalties” — thereby eliminating income tax. If we pay those royalties to our subsidiary in Bermuda, we can pull a “Google” and get our tax rates down to practically nothing. And since no one is actually paying us to be a family, it can all be written off as break-even or a loss. In fact, maybe we should register for non-profit status??
We’re in the business of procreation. We’re building the future here. Higher education is a pretty popular business lately. I can count more colleges in our neighborhood than McDonalds’ and Walgreens. If we incorporate as an educational institution, we could probably get some pretty good government subsidies. I can read the brochure copy now: “At Mike Shank College, our students start in their first year of life, and are trained with a broad, yet focused curriculum in a top-notch, one-on-one educational environment. In just 18 years our students can earn a degree in physical education, common sense, nutrition, economics and theology. “
I know our legal friends are just shaking their heads at this post. It’s just the ramblings of a nervous groom under pressure. But hey, I’m coping with it better than this guy.