What is a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)?

8 Nov, 2023
Paresh @Boloforms
6 min read
What is a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)?

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A PLLC, or "Professional Limited Liability Company," is a unique legal entity primarily formed by licensed professionals in fields like law, medicine, engineering, or architecture, requiring state licensure. It offers vital legal and financial safeguards while maintaining the structure of a limited liability company. PLLCs provide members protection against personal liability for business debts or legal claims. Professionals actively manage PLLCs and can customize their structure. State-specific regulations and licensing requirements apply, and PLLCs are typically taxed as pass-through entities. Despite liability protection, members must adhere to ethical and professional standards in their respective fields. Consultation with legal and financial experts specialized in the relevant industry and jurisdiction is crucial for compliance.

What is the meaning of PLLC?

A PLLC, or Professional Limited Liability Company, is a specific form of limited liability company where all owners, known as "members," must hold the same professional licenses within the same state. These licensed professionals are restricted to offering services related to their specific licensed expertise, ensuring that the PLLC's services align with their professional qualifications and state regulations. For instance, a group of licensed dentists could establish a PLLC, but their services would be limited to dentistry within their state of operation.


In certain states, licensed professionals face restrictions when forming a limited liability company (LLC) and are mandated to establish a PLLC, or Professional Limited Liability Company, instead. In California, professionals offering services can opt for Registered Limited Liability Partnerships (RLLP) or Professional Corporations (PCs), with LLCs and PLLCs not being permitted. Notably, states like Alaska and Alabama lack specific legislation concerning the creation of PLLCs. Both LLCs and PLLCs are favored business structures due to their asset protection and tax flexibility. The key distinction lies in PLLCs, where all members must hold licenses in the same profession, while PLLCs operate similarly to LLCs in other aspects.

How to Establish a PLLC: Step-by-Step Guide

The process of forming a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) varies from state to state, but here are the general steps for licensed professionals looking to create a PLLC:

1. Comply with State Filing Requirements

PLLCs typically need to file articles of organization with the secretary of state. In some states, this may involve submitting an LLC operating agreement or a single-member LLC operating agreement along with other required formation documents.

2. Provide Member's Licenses

Members of the PLLC must demonstrate that they possess all the valid and necessary licenses related to their profession.

3. Sign Formation Documents

At least one member is usually required to sign the articles of organization document.

4. Obtain Authorization

The state licensing board governing your profession must grant approval for the establishment of your PLLC.

5. Determine Management Structure

PLLC members will need to decide on the company's management structure, which can be either member-managed or manager-managed.

It's worth noting that the process of forming a PLLC shares many similarities with establishing a regular Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Membership in a PLLC: Who's Eligible?

The rules governing who can become a member of a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) vary from state to state. Nonetheless, the following licensed professionals are generally allowed to form PLLCs in most states:

  1. Doctors
  2. Lawyers
  3. Engineers
  4. Accountants (CPAs)
  5. Architects
  6. Chiropractors
  7. Dentists
  8. Optometrists
  9. Podiatrists

It's essential to note that specific requirements and regulations regarding PLLC membership eligibility can differ among states. In some states, only a portion of a PLLC's members need to hold the necessary professional licenses.

Taxation of a PLLC: Options and Implications

A Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) enjoys the same flexible tax structure as a standard Limited Liability Company (LLC) and can elect one of three tax entities:

Pass-Through Taxation

    • By default, unless a PLLC chooses to be taxed as a corporation, it follows the "pass-through" taxation method.
    • Profits and losses of the PLLC are passed through to the member's personal tax returns.
    • The PLLC itself does not pay federal income taxes as an entity.
    • A multi-member PLLC is treated as a partnership, and members report their allocated share of profits and losses on their individual tax forms.
    • Members consider their portion of PLLC earnings as self-employment income, subject to a self-employment tax rate of 15.3% (12.4% for social security and 2.9% for Medicare taxes).
    • A single-member PLLC is taxed similarly to a sole proprietorship, enjoying the same pass-through taxation benefits.


    • A PLLC can opt for S-Corporation status by filing Form 2553, which shifts its tax status from a partnership or sole proprietorship.
    • Under S-Corporation status, the PLLC files Form 1120S and reports members' earnings as either wages or dividends, depending on their ownership percentage and work contributions.
    • These earnings are taxed as personal income.


    • If a PLLC prefers to pay regular corporate taxes, it can file Form 1120 Corporate Income Tax Return.
    • Members are then taxed on earnings they receive as salaries or shareholder dividends.

PLLC members must consider the tax implications of each option and consult with tax professionals to determine the most advantageous taxation method for their specific situation.

Professional LLC (PLLC) Advantages

A Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) offers licensed professionals several valuable advantages:

Liability Protection

    • PLLC members benefit from limited liability protection, safeguarding their assets against the business's judgments and debts. However, it's important to note that individual members are not shielded from malpractice suits within their practice areas.
    • To mitigate the risk of malpractice suits, members typically obtain malpractice insurance specific to their state.

Perpetual Existence

    • PLLCs, much like standard LLCs, enjoy perpetual existence, allowing them to continue operations even in the event of a member's departure or passing.
    • For example, if a member of a dental clinic relocates to another state, there's no need to dissolve and reestablish the business with the remaining members, streamlining business continuity.

Creating a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)

A PLLC combines the advantages of an LLC with the ability of licensed professionals to establish a business. Once you grasp the concept of a PLLC, it's essential to ascertain whether you are eligible or obliged to create one in your state. The subsequent steps involve obtaining approval for your members' licenses from your state licensing board and submitting your PLLC's business formation documents to the secretary of state.

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In conclusion, a Professional Limited Liability Company, or PLLC, stands as a unique and invaluable entity that bridges the gap between licensed professionals and the protection of a limited liability company. With the need for state licensure as its foundation, a PLLC offers vital legal and financial safeguards while enabling professionals to actively manage and customize their business structure. However, it is imperative to navigate state-specific regulations, maintain ethical and professional standards, and consider tax implications judiciously. This intricate balance ensures that PLLC members enjoy liability protection while providing their specialized services in compliance with the law.

As licensed professionals consider forming a PLLC, it is not just a legal process; it is a strategic decision that can have a profound impact on their careers and financial well-being. Therefore, consultation with experts well-versed in the industry and jurisdiction is a paramount step towards achieving both compliance and success. The journey of creating a PLLC is a journey towards professionalism and protection, ensuring that business continuity thrives even in the face of challenges, and the services offered remain aligned with the highest standards of excellence.