3 min read

How to Pay Yourself from Your LLC: A Comprehensive Guide


Content provided for general information. Talk to your advisor to learn about recent updates or other rules that may apply to your situation.

Starting and managing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) offers many advantages, including liability protection and flexible tax options. However, one common question that often arises for LLC owners is how to pay themselves from their business. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore various methods and considerations for paying yourself from your LLC, ensuring that you do it in a legally sound and tax-efficient manner.

The Importance of Paying Yourself

Before diving into the specifics of how to pay yourself from your LLC, let's establish why it's crucial to address this matter. Paying yourself appropriately not only helps cover your personal expenses but also ensures your LLC remains compliant with tax regulations.

Choosing the Right Payment Method

When it comes to paying yourself from your LLC, you have several options, each with its own implications. The choice you make should align with your business structure and financial goals.

1. Salary

Paying yourself a salary is a common method, especially if you're actively involved in day-to-day operations. To establish a salary, follow these steps:

  • Determine a reasonable salary based on industry standards and your role.
  • Set up a payroll system for your LLC.
  • Deduct payroll taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Keep in mind that taking a salary can provide a stable income, but it may also lead to higher payroll tax obligations.

2. Distributions

Another way to pay yourself from an LLC is through owner's distributions. This method allows you to take money from your LLC's profits without being subject to payroll taxes. Here's how to go about it:

  • Ensure your LLC is organized as a pass-through entity for tax purposes.
  • Determine the available profits to distribute after covering necessary expenses and obligations.
  • Document and report distributions in your LLC's financial records.

Distributions offer tax advantages, but they may not be a consistent source of income, depending on your LLC's profitability.

3. Combination of Salary and Distributions

Many LLC owners opt for a combination of salary and distributions. This approach allows for a balance between a stable income and tax advantages. It's essential to consult with a tax professional to determine the right proportion based on your financial situation.

Payroll Tax Considerations

Whether you choose to pay yourself a salary, distributions, or a combination of both, you must understand the tax implications and obligations involved. Here are some key tax considerations:

1. Self-Employment Tax

LLC owners who take a salary are subject to self-employment tax, which covers Social Security and Medicare. However, distributions are generally not subject to self-employment tax, making them a tax-efficient choice.

2. Estimated Taxes

Regardless of your chosen payment method, you may need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year to cover your income tax liability. Failing to do so can result in penalties and interest.

3. State Taxes

State tax regulations vary, and some states may impose additional taxes on LLC income. It's essential to be aware of your state's specific tax requirements.

Record-Keeping and Documentation

Proper record-keeping is essential for maintaining financial transparency and compliance. Here's what you should document:

1. Payroll Records

If you opt for a salary, maintain detailed payroll records, including pay stubs, tax withholdings, and any benefits provided.

2. Distributions Documentation

Keep a record of all owner's distributions, specifying the date, amount, and the reason for the distribution.

3. Financial Statements

Regularly update your LLC's financial statements to track income, expenses, and profits. This information will help you make informed decisions about payments to yourself.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Paying yourself from your LLC involves complex tax and financial considerations. To ensure that you're making the right choices for your specific circumstances, it's highly recommended to consult with a tax advisor or financial professional. They can provide personalized guidance and help you navigate the intricacies of LLC taxation.


Paying yourself from your LLC is a crucial aspect of managing your business and personal finances. Whether you choose to take a salary, distributions, or a combination of both, understanding the tax implications and obligations is essential. Proper documentation and financial transparency are key to maintaining compliance. To make well-informed decisions and ensure you're maximizing your financial efficiency, don't hesitate to reach out to a tax advisor for personalized guidance and support.