Pay yourself | Xero (2023)

How to pay yourself as an LLC, sole proprietor, or corporation

Your business structure affects how you take pay and how you’re taxed on that pay. If you’ve never done anything to set up a specific business structure, then you’re automatically considered a sole proprietor.

How to pay yourself as an LLC

LLCs can pay their owners a couple of different ways. It all comes down to your underlying tax structure. An LLC can have the tax structure of a:

  • sole proprietorship or partnership, in which case you simply draw cash from profits

  • corporation, in which case you pay yourself a salary (and probably top it up with dividends from profits)

In other words, you don’t pay yourself as an LLC. You pay yourself as a sole proprietor, partner or corporation, depending on which of those is your tax structure.

(Video) Pay Yourself

How to pay yourself as a sole proprietor or partnership

Sole proprietors and partners pay themselves simply by withdrawing cash from the business. Those personal withdrawals are counted as profit and are taxed at the end of the year. Set aside a percentage of earnings in a separate bank account throughout the year so you have money to pay the tax bill when it’s due.

How to pay yourself as an S-Corporation

Corporation owners often pay themselves a salary, which works the same way as with a normal job. The salary shows as an expense on the business books and the owner pays personal income tax on it. It’s common for owners of smaller corporations to take a modest salary and top it up with dividends from profits.

Get tax advice

(Video) How To Pay Yourself As An LLC In 2023

While a salary might sound nice, there’s extra admin and extra costs to being a corporation. The numbers don’t always stack up, so definitely speak to an accountant or tax professional to decide what’s right for you.

How much to pay yourself

Once you’ve decided how to pay yourself as a business owner, you still need to decide what to pay yourself. That number needs to strike a balance between what your household requires and what your business needs.

What the business needs

You need to leave enough cash in the business to cover:

  • Expenses: Keep a formal list of what you owe and when it’s due so you don’t draw too much from the business at the wrong time. Accountants say it doesn’t go well when business owners try to guesstimate their cash flow requirements. Keep some money aside for taxes too.

  • Rainy day funds: Tuck away some cash to ride out business disruptions. You might keep enough aside to cover 30, 45 or 90 days worth of expenses, for example.

  • Reinvestment: Hold onto some money for developments and improvements. Someday you’ll want to buy new work tools, try a new marketing idea, or hire a consultant.

(Video) How To Pay Yourself As An LLC

What the household needs

Your household budget needs to cover day-to-day living expenses and debt repayments such as mortgages. Don’t forget to make a plan for insurance and retirement, which your employer may have managed before you went out on your own.

Finding a balance

There will be negotiable items in both the home and business budgets. Be prepared for some give and take – especially during the early days of your business.

Typical business owner salary or pay

(Video) How To Pay Yourself (And Taxes) in a Single Member LLC

Most business owners take only modest weekly or monthly pay – just enough to meet household living expenses. The rest of the cash is left in the business where it acts as a float to cover against a lull in revenue or unexpected business expense. If cash reserves build up in the business, an owner might take out extra "bonus" payments.

So while there aren’t any worthwhile stats on average business owner salary or income (each business is different after all), their regular pay tends to be conservatively low.

How to pay yourself fairly as a business owner

Irrespective of how much you pay yourself, be fair about it. Pay yourself a consistent amount at frequent intervals. That predictability will help you run a functional home budget.

This is where the rainy day fund for your business can help. Having a reserve of cash in the business reduces the need to dip into your own pocket when there’s an unexpected expense at the shop or office. And having that financial security in your personal life helps clear your head to be a better business manager.

An accountant or bookkeeper can help you figure out how to pay yourself as a business owner. They’ll help you work out an amount for now and a plan for the future.

(Video) How to Pay Yourself in an S Corp | What is REASONABLE Compensation!?


What is a good amount to pay yourself? ›

How much should you pay yourself first? As for how much to set aside for your future self, a good benchmark to aim for is between 10% and 15% of your gross income.

How do I figure out how much to pay myself? ›

Calculate your net income

First, subtract the cost of your business's expenses (such as employees' salaries, rent for your office space, etc.) from your gross revenue to find your net income. Once you subtract the amount of taxes to set aside, you will pull your pay from this figure.

Should I pay myself a salary from my LLC? ›

Rather than taking a conventional salary, single-member LLC owners pay themselves through what's known as an owner's draw. The amount and frequency of these draws is up to you, but it's ideal to leave enough funds in the business account to operate and grow the LLC.

What percentage should you pay yourself first? ›

A good target is to put 5 – 10% of your take-home pay toward your savings goals. Saving even $25 or $50 a month is one small step you can take to help you get into the habit. If you know you can only pay yourself a small amount right now, look for opportunities to increase these payments in the future.

What is a decent paycheck? ›

A good monthly income in California is $3,886, based on what the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Californians pay for their cost of living. A good monthly income for you will depend on what your expenses are and how much you typically spend per month.

How often should I pay myself? ›

Getting paid

You'll need to decide how often to pay yourself. Biweekly is a common choice, but you also can pay yourself more or less often. At a minimum, pay yourself quarterly to stay on top of your tax obligations.

What is the most tax efficient way to pay yourself? ›

The most tax-efficient way to pay yourself as a business owner is a combination of a salary and dividends. This will allow you to deduct the salary from your business's income and pay taxes on it. If you are not paying yourself a salary, you will have to pay taxes on the profit of your business.

How can an LLC avoid paying taxes? ›

As an LLC owner you're able to reduce taxes by:

Claiming business tax deductions. Using self directed retirement accounts. Deducting health insurance premiums. Reducing taxable income with your LLC's losses.

What is it called when I pay myself from my LLC? ›

Starting a Business

As the owner of an LLC, you don't get paid a salary or wages. Instead, you pay yourself by taking money out of the LLC's profits as needed. That's called an owner's draw.

What is the 70 20 10 Rule money? ›

The biggest chunk, 70%, goes towards living expenses while 20% goes towards repaying any debt, or to savings if all your debt is covered. The remaining 10% is your 'fun bucket', money set aside for the things you want after your essentials, debt and savings goals are taken care of.

What percentage of my small business should I pay myself? ›

The SBA reports that most small business owners limit their salaries to 50% of profits, Singer said.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

One of the most common percentage-based budgets is the 50/30/20 rule. The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. Learn more about the 50/30/20 budget rule and if it's right for you.

What salary is middle class? ›

Pew defines “middle class” as those earning between two-thirds and twice the median American household income, which in 2021 was $70,784, according to the United States Census Bureau. That means American households earning as little as $47,189 and up to $141,568 are technically in the middle class.

What is the average U.S. salary? ›

National average income: The national average U.S. income in 2021 was $97,962. The median U.S. income in 2021 was $69,717. Highest paying jobs: Chief executives and nurse anesthetists earned over $200,000 a year on average in 2021, making them the highest paid occupations.

What is the average income 30 year old? ›

Average Salary for Ages 25-34

For Americans ages 25 to 34, the median salary is $1,003 per week or $52,156 per year. That's a big jump from the median salary for 20- to 24-year-olds. As a general rule, earnings tend to rise in your 20s and 30s as you start to climb up the ladder.

How much spending money should I give myself per month? ›

One popular guideline, the 50/30/20 budget, proposes spending 50% of your monthly take-home pay on necessities, 30% on wants and 20% on savings and debt repayment. For example, if you make $4,000 after taxes each month, that works out to $800 for savings and paying off debt.

How much cash should you always have on hand? ›

Carry $100 to $300

“We would recommend between $100 to $300 of cash in your wallet, but also having a reserve of $1,000 or so in a safe at home,” Anderson says. Depending on your spending habits, a couple hundred dollars may be more than enough for your daily expenses or not enough.

What job makes the most money? ›

Here are the highest paying jobs of 2023:
  • Anesthesiologist: $208,000.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $208,000.
  • Obstetrician and Gynecologist: $208,000.
  • Surgeon: $208,000.
  • Orthodontist: $208,000.
  • Physician: $208,000.
  • Psychiatrist: $208,000.

What can I write off as an LLC? ›

LLC Tax Deductions Guide (What Expenses Can You Write Off?)
  • Expenses of Starting a Business.
  • Home Office Expenses.
  • Business Use of Your Car.
  • Business Meals.
  • Travel Expenses.
  • Education Expenses.
  • Business Interest and Bank Fees.
  • Medical Expenses.
Jan 17, 2023

How do I avoid huge taxes? ›

  1. Contribute to a Retirement Account.
  2. Open a Health Savings Account.
  3. Check for Flexible Spending Accounts at Work.
  4. Use Your Side Hustle to Claim Business Deductions.
  5. Claim a Home Office Deduction.
  6. Rent Out Your Home for Business Meetings.
  7. Write Off Business Travel Expenses, Even While on Vacation.

Is it better to pay someone to do your taxes or do them yourself? ›

In many cases, you'll find that the fee you pay to hire a professional makes up for itself in tax savings you otherwise would not have uncovered yourself. Just as importantly, when you hire a professional, you usually get the benefit of audit support should the IRS question your return down the line.

Can you write off a car with an LLC? ›

Can my LLC deduct the cost of a car? Yes. A Section 179 deduction allows you to deduct part of or the entire cost of your LLC's vehicle.

How many years can an LLC show a loss? ›

The IRS will only allow you to claim losses on your business for three out of five tax years. If you don't show that your business is starting to make a profit, then the IRS can prohibit you from claiming your business losses on your taxes.

Can the IRS take from my LLC? ›

While the IRS can't levy your business account for your personal back taxes, the IRS can freeze and seize your company's assets to satisfy your tax debt if your business has a sizable tax liability. In most cases, for the IRS to implement a levy, your business must have: A substantial amount in back taxes.

Can I use my personal money for my LLC? ›

Forms of LLC Capital Contributions

If your capital contribution will be in the form of cash, making the contribution is generally as easy as making out a check from your personal funds to the LLC.

Does the owner of an LLC get a 1099? ›

Do LLC's get a form 1099-MISC? If you're a single-member LLC or taxed as a partnership: you will receive a 1099 from a company that pays you $600 or more in annual income. Meanwhile, LLC's taxed as an S Corporation do not receive a 1099.

Is owner's draw taxed? ›

The Owner's Draw Method

No taxes are withheld from the check since an owner's draw is considered a removal of profits and not personal income. Pros: Using the owner's draw method can help you, as an owner, keep funds in your business during times when your business may not be able to afford paying yourself a salary.

Is the 50 30 20 rule realistic? ›

The 50/30/20 has worked for some people — especially in past years when the cost of living was lower — but it's especially unfeasible for low-income Americans and people who live in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York. There, it's next to impossible to find a rent or mortgage at half your take-home salary.

What is the 50 40 10 rule? ›

One of the most quoted rules of happiness is the 50-40-10 rule. This knowledge about happiness states that 50% of our happiness is determined by genetics, 10% by our circumstances and 40% by our internal state of mind. This rule originates from the book "The How Of Happiness" written by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

What is the 40 20 10 rule money? ›

40% of your income goes towards your savings. 30% of your income goes towards necessary expenses (food, rent, bills, etc.). 20% of your income goes towards discretionary spending (entertainment, travel, etc.). 10% of your income goes towards contributory activities (donations, charity, tithe, etc.).

How much cash should I hold in my business? ›

How Much Cash Reserve Should A Company Have On Hand? According to experts, setting aside 3-6 months' worth of expenses is a good rule of thumb. But the right answer will vary depending on several factors, like your: Business stage and access to funding.

How is it best to pay yourself as a business owner? ›

Company owners often pay themselves a salary, which works the same way as with a normal job. The salary shows as an expense on the business books and the owner pays personal income tax on it. It's common for owners of smaller companies to take a modest salary and top it up with dividends from profits.

How long should it take for a business to pay for itself? ›

Three to four years is the standard estimation for how long it takes a business to be profitable. Most of your earning in the first year of the business will be used for paying expenses and reinvestment.

What is cash stuffing? ›

Cash stuffing is none other than the envelope system with Gen Z flair. As explained by money guru Dave Ramsey, the envelope system is a budgeting tool that has you allocating cash into different buckets (by way of designated envelopes) as a strategy to control monthly spending.

What is the 50 15 5 rule? ›

50 - Consider allocating no more than 50 percent of take-home pay to essential expenses. 15 - Try to save 15 percent of pretax income (including employer contributions) for retirement. 5 - Save for the unexpected by keeping 5 percent of take-home pay in short-term savings for unplanned expenses.

How much savings should I have at 40? ›

A common age-based estimate for retirement savings holds that a 40-year-old should have approximately three times their annual salary set aside for retirement.

What percentage of income should I pay myself from my LLC? ›

A safe starting point is 30 percent of your net income.

If you're in a higher tax bracket or filing jointly with someone with a high income, your tax savings percentage may be higher. If you have an accountant or tax preparer, ask them what percentage of your net income you should save for your tax bill.

Should I pay myself a salary as a business owner? ›

Business owners should pay themselves if their business earns enough money to do so. Aside from affordability, there are also tax considerations and different payment methods to consider, depending on how you've structured your company. We'll help you decide when and how to pay yourself the right way.

What percentage should I pay myself from my business? ›

The SBA reports that most small business owners limit their salaries to 50% of profits, Singer said.

Is it better to pay myself as a business owner? ›

It can be especially difficult when your business is just starting out, but it's important that you set yourself up for success and compensate yourself for the work you put into your business. One of the most important benefits of paying yourself is that it helps you build up your personal savings.

How much cash should I keep in my LLC? ›

How Much Cash Reserve Should A Company Have On Hand? According to experts, setting aside 3-6 months' worth of expenses is a good rule of thumb.

How do most small business owners pay themselves? ›

Most small business owners pay themselves through something called an owner's draw. The IRS views owners of LLCs, sole props, and partnerships as self-employed, and as a result, they aren't paid through regular wages. That's where the owner's draw comes in.

Do I give myself a 1099 from my LLC? ›

If you choose to pay yourself as a contractor, you need to file IRS Form W-9 with the LLC and the LLC will file an IRS Form 1099-MISC at the end of the year. You will be responsible for paying self-employment taxes on the amount earned.

Is salary taxed differently than hourly? ›

Is salary taxed differently than hourly? No. Income is taxed at the same rate and in the same way regardless of how compensation is structured. An employer processes payroll taxes based on the amount of wages on a paycheck, whether they're figured hourly or as part of a salary.


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