split profits in a small business partnership

Starting a small business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, it’s crucial to establish clear guidelines on how profits will be divided to ensure fairness and avoid potential conflicts down the road. So, how do you split profits in a small business partnership? To ensure fair profit splitting, you must have a well-drafted partnership agreement and take advantage of legal protections afforded to you. Here, we’ll discuss equitable profit splitting in a small business partnership in Florida, including key considerations, legal protections, tax implications, and what to do if profit-sharing becomes a source of disagreement. Contact us today!

What Is a Small Business Partnership in Florida?

A small business partnership in Florida is a legal structure in which two or more individuals come together to jointly operate a business for profit. Several types of partnerships are available in Florida, including general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability partnerships. Each type has its own characteristics, requirements, and personal liability protection.

How Do I Split Profits in a Small Business Partnership?

To determine how to split profits in a small business partnership, you must decide on your profit-sharing ratio and document the business partnership profit splitting in a written agreement.

Profit-Sharing Ratio

To determine a fair profit-sharing ratio, you should consider the following: 

  • Contributions. Determine each partner’s initial investment, skills, and contributions to the business. These factors can influence the profit-sharing ratio.
  • Equity versus sweat equity. Acknowledge that partners may contribute both financially and through their labor. Consider how sweat equity, or non-monetary contributions like time and expertise, will be valued.
  • Percentage versus fixed amount. Decide whether profits will be split based on percentage or a fixed dollar amount. 

Depending on the above factors, some partnerships may want to split their profits equally, while for others, it may be more equitable that one or two partners receive more profit. 

Equitable Business Agreement

It is essential to draft a comprehensive business agreement that outlines the profit-sharing structure. An equitable business agreement should include: 

  • Contributions. The assets each partner is contributing to the business.
  • Profit-sharing ratio. Include how the profits and losses will be split as well as  how and when each partner will get paid. 
  • Decision-making ratio. Clarify how major business decisionswill be made collectively or by specific partners.
  • Duties. Outline each partner’s duties and responsibilities. 
  • Review periods. Establish regular review periods to assess the profit-sharing arrangement and make adjustments if necessary.

In order to draft a comprehensive and equitable business agreement, you should consult with an experienced business law attorney.

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What Are the Tax Implications of Profit Splitting?

Profit distribution can have tax consequences for both partners and the business. Here are some tax-related considerations: 

  • Pass-through entity. Florida does not collect income tax from its residents. As a result, all income generated by the partnership will “pass-through” to partners’ personal federal tax returns.
  • Self-employment taxes. Partners may be subject to self-employment taxes on their share of profits.
  • Basic adjustments. Keep track of your capital accounts, as they can affect the tax consequences of profit distributions.

Consult with a business lawyer to ensure compliance with federal and state tax laws.

What Are the Laws in Place to Protect Partners?

Florida law provides certain default rules for partnerships, but having a written agreement in place is always wise. Here are some legal considerations: 

  • Default rules. In the absence of a written agreement, Florida law typically presumes equal profit-sharing among partners, regardless of contributions.
  • Dissolution rules. Ensure your agreement includes provisions for the dissolution of the partnership, including the distribution of assets and profits in such an event.
  • Equitable accounting. In Florida, partners can bring a cause of action for equitable accounting when there is a breakdown in trust and cooperation or when there are concerns about financial improprieties within the partnership. This cause of action allows partners to compel an accounting of the partnership’s affairs, financial records, and transactions.
  • Dispute resolution. Specify how disputes related to profit-sharing or other matters will be resolved, whether through mediation, arbitration, or litigation.

It is important to know the various legal protections in place to ensure fair profit splitting.

What If a Partner Isn’t Splitting Profits Fairly?

If you find that a partner isn’t adhering to the agreed-upon profit-sharing terms, you can take the following steps: 

  • Open communication. Start by discussing the issue with your partner and trying to get to the bottom of it.
  • Mediation. If communication fails, consider mediation as a neutral way to resolve the dispute. Many partnership agreements include mediation clauses for this purpose.
  • Legal action. Consult an attorney to explore legal options, including bringing a cause of action for equitable accounting or enforcing the partnership agreement through a lawsuit.

While you hope your partner will always follow the agreed-upon profit-sharing terms, that isn’t always the case. Qualified legal counsel will take the necessary steps to protect your rights and ensure that your partner is splitting profits fairly.

Contact an Attorney

Equitably splitting profits in a small business partnership in Florida is essential for the venture’s long-term success. A well-drafted partner agreement, knowledge of your legal protections and tax considerations, and effective communication can help partners navigate profit-sharing issues and ensure a fair and prosperous business partnership. The best way to make informed decisions about splitting profits in a small business partnership is to seek legal counsel from experienced business attorneys. BrewerLong is a knowledgeable and qualified business law firm that focuses on the needs of small businesses and startups. Our attorneys have successfully represented business clients of all sizes in many different industries. We are here to increase your chances of success with your company. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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