Personal Service Corporations: How They Benefit Professionals


A personal service corporation is a specific type of corporation established to provide personal services in fields like accounting, consulting, law, and more. It offers certain tax advantages, but strict IRS regulations apply. This article delves into the details of personal service corporations, their benefits, tax implications, and the key criteria for their formation.

Understanding personal service corporations

A personal service corporation is a distinct business structure, recognized and regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These corporations are specifically created to offer personal services to individuals or groups. The services they provide encompass a wide range of professional fields, including accounting, engineering, architecture, consulting, actuarial science, law, performing arts, and health services, including veterinary services. It’s important to note that financial services activities are not considered qualified services, which often leads financial advisors to opt for S Corporations.

Key criteria for personal service corporations

To qualify as a personal service corporation, the employee-owners must meet specific criteria outlined by the IRS. First, they must perform at least 20% of the personal services themselves. Second, the employee-owners must collectively own at least 10% of the outstanding stock of the personal service corporation on the last day of the initial one-year testing period.

Personal service corporation and taxes

Personal service corporations are subject to a unique tax rate. They are taxed by multiplying their taxable income by 21%. Despite this seemingly higher tax rate, there are tax benefits associated with organizing as a C Corporation, which makes it an attractive option for many high-earning professionals.

Tax benefits of personal service corporations

One of the primary reasons professionals choose personal service corporations is the potential for tax savings. For example, a C Corporation allows employee/owners to leave some of their earnings within the corporation. This deferred income is taxed at a lower corporate rate compared to individual marginal tax rates.

Compliance and regulations

Personal service corporations have to comply with certain tax regulations. They typically follow a fiscal year based on the calendar year, and there are specific rules governing passive activities. It’s crucial for those considering this corporate structure to be aware of and adhere to these regulations to maintain their corporation’s status.

Personal service corporation test

To determine whether a person qualifies as an employee-owner of a personal service corporation, the IRS has set specific conditions. The following criteria must be met:

  • They must be an employee of the corporation or perform personal services for, or on behalf of, the corporation, even if they work as independent contractors for other purposes during the testing period.
  • They must own any stock in the corporation at any time during the testing period.

Special considerations for creative/fine arts or photography

If an individual functions as the owner/employee of a personal service corporation, and their primary business involves creative/fine arts or photography, there are unique deductions available for expenses related to creative work. However, in this case, either the owner/employee or their family members must hold all or nearly all of the corporation’s outstanding stock. It’s essential to understand that this rule does not apply to other types of personal service corporations.

Examples of personal service corporations

Personal service corporations can be found in various professional fields. Here are a few comprehensive examples of businesses that may opt for this corporate structure:

  • Medical practices: Physician groups, dental clinics, and other healthcare providers often organize as personal service corporations to benefit from tax advantages while delivering essential medical services.
  • Legal firms: Law practices and legal consultancy businesses can choose this structure to manage their tax liabilities more effectively while offering legal services.
  • Architectural firms: Companies in the field of architecture may opt for personal service corporation status to access tax benefits in their industry.
  • Entertainment industry: Professionals in the performing arts, including actors, musicians, and artists, might form personal service corporations to handle their income and expenses efficiently.

Key criteria for each example

Each of these examples would need to meet specific criteria to qualify as a personal service corporation. These criteria include the ownership and involvement of the employee-owners in personal services, as outlined by the IRS.

Tax planning and personal service corporations

Tax planning plays a crucial role in the decision to establish a personal service corporation. Professionals often consult with tax advisors to optimize their tax strategies. Here’s a closer look at tax planning in this context:

Deferred income strategies

One of the primary tax planning strategies for personal service corporations is deferring income. By leaving a portion of earnings within the corporation, professionals can reduce their immediate tax liability since the corporate rate is typically lower than individual marginal rates.

Franchise tax considerations

Professionals operating across different states need to consider franchise tax implications. Different states have varying regulations, and tax planning should address the complexity of multi-state operations.

Comparing personal service corporations with other business structures

To make an informed choice, professionals should compare personal service corporations with other business structures. It’s crucial to understand the pros and cons of each option.

S Corporations vs. personal service corporations

One alternative to personal service corporations is the S Corporation. Professionals in certain industries, like financial services, often choose S Corporations. This section provides a comparative analysis of the two structures, emphasizing when one might be more advantageous than the other.

Limited liability companies (LLCs) vs. personal service corporations

Another option is forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This section explores the differences and similarities between LLCs and personal service corporations, helping professionals decide which structure aligns better with their goals.


A personal service corporation is a specialized entity designed for professionals in various fields. It offers specific tax advantages but comes with strict IRS regulations that must be adhered to. Understanding the criteria for forming and maintaining a personal service corporation is vital for professionals seeking tax benefits while providing personal services.

Frequently asked questions

What is the primary purpose of a personal service corporation?

A personal service corporation is primarily established to provide specific personal services in professional fields. These services include accounting, consulting, law, health services, and more. The main aim is to offer these services while benefiting from the unique tax advantages associated with this corporate structure.

Why do some financial advisors choose S Corporations over personal service corporations?

Financial advisors often opt for S Corporations because financial services activities are not considered qualified services for personal service corporations. By choosing an S Corporation, they can manage their tax liabilities more effectively. What’s more, S Corporations offer different tax benefits that align better with the financial industry.

Are there any specific tax planning strategies for personal service corporations?

Yes, tax planning plays a significant role in the decision to establish a personal service corporation. Professionals in these corporations can employ tax-saving strategies such as deferred income, where a portion of earnings is left within the corporation, subject to lower corporate taxation rates. Additionally, they can take advantage of various tax-free fringe benefits.

What happens if a personal service corporation doesn’t adhere to IRS regulations?

If a personal service corporation fails to comply with IRS regulations, it may lose its status and the associated tax benefits. It’s crucial to adhere to rules such as the ownership and involvement criteria for employee-owners and maintain compliance with specific tax regulations, including those related to passive activities.

How can professionals decide whether to choose a personal service corporation or another business structure?

Professionals should carefully consider their industry, business goals, and tax preferences when deciding between a personal service corporation and other business structures. It’s advisable to compare the pros and cons of different options, such as S Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and consult with tax advisors to make an informed choice.

Key takeaways

  • Personal service corporations are specialized entities designed for professionals offering personal services in various fields.
  • Tax benefits include a unique tax rate and the ability to defer income for lower corporate taxation.
  • Compliance with IRS regulations is essential for maintaining personal service corporation status.
  • Criteria for forming and maintaining such corporations include ownership and involvement in personal services.
View article sources
  1. Publication 542 (01/2022), Corporations – legal information institute 
  2. qualified personal service corporation – IRS
  3. Foreign Corporation – International Taxation – controller.richmond