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Accounting Information > Business Entity Types > General Partnership
General Partnership

There are many possible business entities under which to conduct your trade or business. These include sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, S corporations, C corporations, and limited liability companies. You must evaluate the pros and cons of each and determine how it would work with your organization. Some forms of doing business offer limited liability protection for the business owner while others donĎt, and some are only available as options if certain conditions are met.


A general partnership is formed when you go into business with one of more other people, and all of you are personally liable for the debts of the business. General partners are both jointly and severally liable for the debts the business incurs. This means that creditors can pursue any one partner for the total amount of the debt. That partner can then try to recover a proportionate share of the debt from the other partner or partners.

A partnership can be formed under an informal agreement regarding splitting profits and losses. It is much more common, though, for a partnership to be formed through a formal written partnership agreement. The partnership agreement explains in detail the method and proportion to be used to divide income, deductions, gains, losses, and credits among the partners. Also addressed in the partnership agreement is how the death, retirement, disability, or bankruptcy of any of the partners will be handled.

A partnership is a pass-through entity. That means that the partnership itself does not pay any income taxes. The partnership must file a partnership information return, the Form 1065. This form reports the income and deductions of the partnership. Part of Form 1065 is a Schedule K-1 for each partner, which shows that partnerís share of the partnership net income or loss, along with any separately stated items.

The partner uses the Schedule K-1 to report their business income or loss on their Form 1040. This income or loss is reported on Schedule E, Part II, Income or Loss From Partnerships and S Corporations. If the partnership is reporting a loss, there are limits imposed on the amount of loss that can be taken by the partners. The partner cannot claim a loss for more than their basis in the partnership. The partnerís basis is the partnerís interest in the partnership, or the amount of cash and other property that they contributed to the partnership. If you are a passive investor in the partnership, otherwise known as a silent partner, further limits are imposed due to the passive activity rules. You would only be able to deduct the loss in an amount up to the amount of your income from passive activities.

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