I'm starting a small business and I'm concerned about personal liability. I like the idea of a corporation providing some protection, but I'm uncomfortable with the notion that the corporate veil could be pierced if the corporation looks like a shell.
Wikipedia lists a number of common reasons why a judge may pierce the corporate veil. Some of the notable ones listed in the United States section:
- Absence or inaccuracy of corporate records;
- Failure to observe corporate formalities in terms of behavior and documentation;
- Intermingling of assets of the corporation and of the shareholder;
- Significant undercapitalization of the business
- Siphoning of corporate funds by the dominant shareholder(s);
- Treatment by an individual of the assets of corporation as his/her own;
- Was the corporation being used as a "façade" for dominant shareholder(s) personal dealings;
It seems that many of these could easily be proven true for many small businesses operated by one owner or a perhaps a couple.
Speaking strictly in terms of liability, does an S-Corp provide me with any practical protection that I can't get with a liability insurance policy?