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11.2 Corporations And Their Structure

Comprehensive guide to understanding the structure and types of corporations, including advantages, disadvantages, process, and comparison with other business structures.

Corporations And Their Structure

1 | Define the Three Types of Business Structures

In the realm of business, three primary structures define how businesses operate and are governed: sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Let’s examine each:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure where a single individual owns, manages, and is responsible for the business. Here are the key points:

  • Taxes: The owner’s personal income tax rate applies to the business earnings.
  • Profits and Losses: The owner enjoys all the profits but is also personally liable for all business debts and obligations.
  • Assets: No legal distinction between personal and business assets.
  • Liability: The owner holds unlimited liability, meaning if business assets are insufficient to cover debts, personal assets may be at risk.


Partnerships involve two or more individuals co-owning a business, governed under the Partnership Act. There are two types:

  • *General Partnership:

    • Management: All partners manage the business.
    • Liability: Partners share unlimited personal liability for business debts and obligations.
  • *Limited Partnership:

    • Management: One or more general partners handle business operations.
    • Limited Partners: Invest in the business but do not participate in day-to-day management. Their liability is limited to their investment amount.

2 | Describe the Advantages, Disadvantages, Process, and Structure of Corporations


A corporation is a legally defined, independent entity separate from its shareholders. It operates under legal and regulatory frameworks unique to corporate entities.


  • Liability Protection: Shareholders have limited liability; they are not personally responsible for corporate debts.
  • Perpetual Existence: Corporations continue to exist beyond the life of their owners.
  • Capital Raising: Corporations can issue shares or bonds to raise substantial capital.
  • Transferable Ownership: Ownership can be transferred through the sale of shares, without affecting the corporation’s operations.


  • Complexity and Cost: Corporations require extensive documentation, regulatory compliance, and legal formalities to establish and maintain.
  • Double Taxation: Income can be taxed at both corporate and dividend levels, potentially reducing overall earnings.

Process of Formation

  • Incorporation: Legal process includes registering with governmental authorities, typically requires comprehensive documentation such as articles of incorporation and corporate bylaws.
  • Continuing Obligations: Regular filings, board meetings, compliance with corporate governance rules.


The corporate structure usually includes the following components:

  • Shareholders: Owners of the corporation through purchased shares.
  • Board of Directors: Elected by shareholders, responsible for major decisions and policy direction.
  • Officers: Executives such as the CEO and CFO, responsible for daily operations and implementation of board policies.

Comparison with Other Business Structures

Unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations possess distinct advantages in raising funds through issuing equity or debt, making them suitable for substantial business ventures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What distinguishes a corporation from a sole proprietorship or partnership? Corporations are separate legal entities offering limited liability to their shareholders, more favorable for large-scale operations due to their ability to raise capital via equity or debt issuance.

  2. Why do corporations face double taxation? Income is taxed at the corporate level and again at the individual level when distributed as dividends.

  3. What are the primary responsibilities of the Board of Directors? They include overseeing corporate policies, major business decisions, and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.


  • Sole Proprietorship: A business owned and run by one person with no distinction between the business and the owner.
  • Partnership: A business structure where two or more individuals share ownership.
  • Corporation: A legal entity that is separate from its owners, providing limited liability protection.
  • Liability: Legal responsibility for debts and actions.
  • Equity: Ownership interest in a corporation through stock.
  • Debt: Money borrowed by the corporation to be repaid at a later date, often with interest.

Key Takeaways

  • Corporations are separate legal entities, distinct from their shareholders, providing limited liability and perpetual existence.
  • Unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations can raise significant capital through issuing shares and bonds.
  • While offering several financial and legal advantages, corporations are more complex and costly to maintain.

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CSC® Exams Practice Questions

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Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You'll find 10 carefully curated CSC exam practice questions designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you're on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

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markdown ## Which of the following business structures involves a single person running the business and being liable for all debts and obligations? - [x] Sole proprietorship - [ ] General partnership - [ ] Limited partnership - [ ] Corporation > **Explanation:** A sole proprietorship is owned and managed by one person, and this person is personally responsible for all debts and obligations. ## What is the main characteristic of a corporation? - [ ] The owner is taxed at personal income tax rates - [ ] All partners are liable for debts and obligations - [x] It is a distinct legal entity separate from its shareholders - [ ] The owners run day-to-day operations > **Explanation:** A corporation is a distinct legal entity, separate from its shareholders who have no personal liability for the company’s debts. ## How is a corporation taxed? - [ ] At the personal income tax rate of the owner - [ ] At the partnership tax rate - [x] As an independent legal entity - [ ] It varies depending on the shareholders > **Explanation:** A corporation pays taxes as a separate legal entity, distinct from its shareholders. ## In which business structure can property owned by the business belong to the owner personally? - [x] Sole proprietorship - [ ] General partnership - [ ] Limited partnership - [ ] Corporation > **Explanation:** In a sole proprietorship, there is no distinction between personal and business assets. ## What is a key advantage of forming a corporation compared to a sole proprietorship or partnership? - [ ] Personal liability for debts - [x] Ability to raise funds by issuing equity or debt - [ ] Simpler tax filing - [ ] Personal involvement in day-to-day operations > **Explanation:** Corporations can raise capital through equity or debt, making them suitable for larger business ventures. ## Who is liable for debts in a general partnership? - [ ] Only the limited partners - [ ] Only the CEO - [x] All general partners - [ ] Only the shareholders > **Explanation:** In a general partnership, all partners share liability for the debts and obligations of the business. ## What is the liability limit for limited partners in a limited partnership? - [ ] Unlimited - [ ] Only the debts amount - [ ] Fully dependent on the general partner - [x] Limited to the amount of their investments > **Explanation:** Limited partners' liability is restricted to the amount they have invested in the partnership. ## Which business structure does not have the potential to issue equity as a means of raising funds? - [ ] Corporation - [x] Sole proprietorship - [ ] General partnership - [ ] Limited partnership > **Explanation:** Sole proprietorships cannot issue equity; only corporations have the ability to raise funds through equity. ## Which legislation governs the formation and operation of partnerships? - [ ] Business Corporations Act - [ ] Income Tax Act - [ ] Companies Act - [x] Partnership Act > **Explanation:** Partnerships are governed by the Partnership Act, which outlines the rules and structure for their formation and operation. ## In which of the following structures do the shareholders not have personal liability for the debts of the entity? - [ ] Sole proprietorship - [ ] General partnership - [ ] Limited partnership - [x] Corporation > **Explanation:** Shareholders of a corporation do not have personal liability for the corporation’s debts.

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In this section

  • 11.2.1 Advantages And Disadvantages Of Incorporation
    Explore the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation in this comprehensive guide. Understand why incorporation as a legal entity might benefit or constrain your business.
  • 11.2.2 Private And Public Corporations
    Learn the differences between private and public corporations, their by-laws, voting rights, and shareholders' meetings. Understand the importance of voting by proxy, voting trusts, and more in the Canadian context.
  • 11.2.3 Corporate Structure
    Understanding the executive-level corporate structure including roles and responsibilities can significantly benefit those preparing for the Canadian Securities Course (CSC). Learn about the duties and obligations of directors, the chairman, president, vice-presidents, and officers.
Sunday, July 21, 2024