Under the check the box regulations, an LLC may elect to be an S corporation. But it is important to remember that the LLC must meet all of the requirements to be treated as an S corporation during its life, which includes the single class of stock rule. PLR 201918004 details a case where an LLC was forced to ask the IRS for relief from inadvertent termination of its S status when a review of the operating agreement found that the agreement provided for the potential for a disproportionate distribution.
IRC §1362(b)(1)(D) provides that one of the conditions for S status is that the corporation does not have more than one class of stock outstanding. However, the “class of stock” is not based on state law rules for what makes for different classes of stock. Rather, Reg. §1.1362-1(l)(1) creates a federal S corporation test for what constitutes the existence of only a single class of stock:
(1) General rule. A corporation that has more than one class of stock does not qualify as a small business corporation. Except as provided in paragraph (l)(4) of this section (relating to instruments, obligations, or arrangements treated as a second class of stock), a corporation is treated as having only one class of stock if all outstanding shares of stock of the corporation confer identical rights to distribution and liquidation proceeds. Differences in voting rights among shares of stock of a corporation are disregarded in determining whether a corporation has more than one class of stock. Thus, if all shares of stock of an S corporation have identical rights to distribution and liquidation proceeds, the corporation may have voting and nonvoting common stock, a class of stock that may vote only on certain issues, irrevocable proxy agreements, or groups of shares that differ with respect to rights to elect members of the board of directors.Read More