The limited liability company (LLC) is a much more popular business entity in some U.S. states than in others. This empirical study provides the first detailed analysis of this phenomenon.
I find that formation fees, rather than taxes or substantive rules or anything else, explain the variation in LLC popularity best. Differentials between the fees for organizing an LLC and the fees for organizing a corporation explain 17% to 28% of the state-to-state variation in LLC popularity. These formation fee differentials are not very big, but they are highly visible at the moment the business entity is formed. In contrast, the data show no relationship between LLC popularity and differentials in annual fees and entity-level taxes. Differences in substantive rules contained in LLC statutes are likely to be trivial in the sense that they are not important enough to affect entity choice. However, LLCs are more popular in those states whose LLC statutes expressly uphold the principle of contractual freedom and thus reassure LLC members that courts will not rewrite their contract in the event of a lawsuit. Finally, I found no evidence that LLC popularity is related to different levels of uniformity of LLC statutes, the age of LLC statutes, and other factors.
The Digital Object Identifier of the dataset compiled for this study is doi:10.3886/ICPSR31561
Daniel M. Häusermann,
For a Few Dollars Less: Explaining State to State Variation in Limited Liability Company Popularity,
20 U. MIA Bus. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.miami.edu/umblr/vol20/iss1/2