An Overview of Pass-through Businesses in the United States

One of the goals of tax reform is to improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and grow the economy. A promising way to do that is by lowering taxes on saving and investment through business tax reform. Much time is devoted to improving the corporate side of the tax code, but corporate-only business tax reform misses a significant portion of business activity.

The United States currently has a large number of pass-through businesses, or businesses that pay their taxes through the individual income tax code rather than through the corporate code. These sole proprietorships, S corporations, and partnerships make up the vast majority of businesses and more than 60 percent of net business income in America. In addition, pass-through businesses account for more than half of the private sector workforce and 37 percent of total private sector payroll. Pass-through businesses are represented in all industries in the United States.

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