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Can a Physician Assistant Practice Using a General Stock Corporation in California?

Apr 24, 2024


In California, the structure and organization of businesses that physician assistants may use to provide physician assistant services are subject to specific legal and regulatory considerations. A physician assistant must contemplate the most suitable corporate form for tax liability by minimizing both income and self-employment taxes as well as personal liability and personal asset protection concerns such as separating personal and corporate assets and practicing in a business entity that provides limited liability protection to protect personal assets. To undertake their physician assistant practice without losing sight of the legally permissible forms of business structures, physician assistants should seek the advice and counsel of both experienced corporate attorneys and their tax advisors when choosing a business structure for their physician assistant practice.

The question of whether rending professional services is permitted through a General Stock Corporation, whether that is a California Corporation or a California S-Corp, is a matter of legal interpretation. This article aims to dissect the legal framework governing the use of General Stock Corporations, such as California Corporations and California S-Corps for physician assistant practices in California, analyzing the implications, limitations, and potential benefits of adopting such a structure.

Given the stringent regulations on physician assistant services in California, understanding the nuances and requirements is crucial for physician assistants seeking to incorporate their physician assistant practices in California as General Stock Corporations. This article endeavors to provide a clear, informative, and practical answer for physician assistants considering the use of a General Stock Corporation for their physician assistant practice and to inform physician assistants who might currently be practicing as a physician assistant in a General Stock Corporation their options to get into compliance with the California Corporations Code, the California Business and Professions Code, and the rules and regulations of the Physician Assistant Board of California.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Putting the Conclusion First for Busy Physician Assistant

California physician assistants may not practice as a physician assistant in California using a General Stock Corporation, and instead must opt for a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation. As a California Professional Medical Corporation is for a medical practice by licensed physicians and surgeons, a California Professional Physician Assistants Corporation is for a practice by a licensed physician assistant.

How to Identify a California General Stock Corporation

A General Stock Corporation may be easily identified by reading the Purpose Statement in the Articles of Incorporation. The Purpose Statement of a California General Stock Corporation will read as follows:

“The purpose of the corporation is to engage in any lawful act or activity for which a corporation may be organized under the General Corporation Law of California other than the banking business, the trust company business or the practice of a profession permitted to be incorporated by the California Corporations Code.”

The Purpose Statement of a General Stock Corporation formed in a state other than California will read similarly, although the accepted Purpose Statement wording will vary by state.

How to Identify a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

A California Corporation may be easily identified by reading the Purpose Statement in the Articles of Incorporation. The Purpose Statement of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation will read as follows:

“The purpose of the corporation is to engage in the profession of physician assistant and any other lawful activities (other than the banking or trust company business) not prohibited to a corporation engaging in such profession by applicable laws and regulations. This corporation is a professional corporation within the meaning of California Corporations Code section 13400 et. seq.”

Options for Professionals Practicing in a General Stock Corporation

If you are a physician assistant currently practicing as a physician assistant within a General Stock Corporation, whether formed under California law or the laws of another state, it is imperative to seek informed legal guidance to either form a new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation or convert your California General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation to ensure compliance with the nuanced requirements set by the California Corporations Code, the California Business and Professions Code, and the rules and regulations of the Physician Assistant Board of California.

Contact the experienced attorneys at San Diego Corporate Law today for personalized legal solutions tailored to the unique needs of your physician assistant practice. Our team of corporate attorneys is dedicated to helping you seamlessly transition into a compliant corporate structure, safeguarding the future of your physician assistant practice and protecting the physician assistant license you studied and worked hard to obtain.

What are General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations?

While similar in structure generally, General Stock Corporations formed under California law or the laws of another state and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations differ with respect to their ability to be used for a physician assistant practice by a California licensed physician assistant in California. Understanding the nuances between these corporate structures is essential for physician assistants intending to establish or continue their practices within the legal frameworks of California or any other state. This section will discuss the attributes of both General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations.

What is a General Stock Corporation?

A General Stock Corporation is a business entity formed under the laws of the State of California or the laws of other states that can engage in virtually any legal activity, other than the banking business, the trust company business, or the practice of a profession permitted to be incorporated by the California Corporations Code. This type of corporation is recognized broadly across states, allowing for a degree of uniformity in business operations beyond California or the jurisdiction of its formation and generally permitted to file for authority to transact business in other states (commonly referred to a registration of a foreign corporation).

What is a Professional Physician Assistant Corporation in California?

California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations are specialized entities formed pursuant to the Moscone-Knox Professional Corporation Act specifically for rendering professional services that require a California license to practice as a physician assistant. This differentiation ensures that physician assistants are able to comply with specific legal stipulations governing their practice of as a physician assistant, including liability and practice requirements, thereby protecting both the physician assistants and the public they serve.

General Stock Corporations versus California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations

Limitations on the Provision of Professional Services Between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations

The primary distinction between a California General Stock Corporation and a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation lies in the nature of the services provided. While General Stock Corporations can operate in a wide array of industries and offer virtually any service or product, other than the banking business, the trust company business, or the practice of a profession permitted to be incorporated by the California Corporations Code, California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations are exclusively established by licensed physician assistants to render professional services personally or with professional employees to practice as a physician assistant under the California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation.

Limitations on the Identity of Permitted Shareholders Between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations

Another key difference between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations is the restriction on the ownership structure of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation. Whereas a General Stock Corporation such as a California Corporation has virtually no restrictions on the identity of shareholders, and a General Stock Corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as an S Corporation like a California S-Corp has some limitations on citizenship and number of permitted shareholders, California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations have significant restrictions on the identity of shareholders and must be owned by licensed physician assistants or certain other licensed professionals, such as licensed physicians, naturopathic doctors, registered nurses and other specifically licensed persons. For more information about permitted shareholders, read this article about who may be a shareholder of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation.

Limited Liability Protection Differences Between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations

Liability is another area where California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations differ from General Stock Corporations. While shareholders in a General Stock Corporation generally enjoy comprehensive protection from personal liability for the debts, liabilities, obligations, and legal judgments against a General Stock Corporation, professional shareholders and professional employees of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation are personally liable for their own professional malpractice (professional negligence). However, these professional shareholders are shielded from the malpractice liabilities of their associates and the general debts, liabilities, obligations, and legal judgments against a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, which still provides a significant benefit compared to sole proprietorships or partnerships where personal assets of professionals are at risk for all debts, liabilities, obligations, and legal judgments against the physician assistant practice.

Taxation Differences Between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations

Taxation presents the potential for variance between General Stock Corporations and California Professional Corporations. Both General Stock Corporations and California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations may elect to be taxed under Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code, a specific taxation status potentially offering benefits such as pass-through taxation of income, deductions, and credit through to shareholders to be reported on personal tax returns. However, if not electing to be taxed as an S Corporation, traditionally personal service corporations (sometimes referred to as professional service corporations) such as California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations not electing S Corporation tax status were taxed at a flat federal rate of 35% in addition to state income taxes. Furthermore, these personal services corporations were subject to the double taxation of traditional C corporations. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by then President Trump in 2018 reduced the federal flat tax from 35% to the standard federal corporate tax rate of 21%, but this tax cut is due to expire at the end of 2025 and return to the 35% federal tax rate unless the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is extended or new tax laws are adopted.

Summary of General Stock Corporation versus California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation Differences

In summary, a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation serves as a critical vehicle for physician assistants desiring to practice as a physician assistant within a corporate framework while adhering to the legal requirements and professional standards of the practice of as a physician assistant in California. This structure not only provides a way to manage the business aspects of a physician assistant practice, but also offers a layer of protection against certain liabilities and the advantages of corporate tax structures. Understanding these differences is essential for physician assistants in deciding the appropriate entity structure for their physician assistant practice.

How to Identify if Business Entities are General Stock Corporations or California Professional Physician Assistant Corporations?

Since General Stock Corporations, whether formed under California law or the laws of another state, cannot render professional services in California, it is important for every physician assistant to identify whether they are practicing as a physician assistant as a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation or a General Stock Corporation such as a California Corporation or a California S-Corp.

While the corporate documents of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, such as the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Stock Certificates should contain language specific to the practice of as a physician assistant under the California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, the easiest way to determine whether a business entity is a General Stock Corporation or a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation is to review the Purpose Statement in the Articles of Incorporation of the business structure.

Purpose Statement of a General Stock Corporation

A General Stock Corporation may be easily identified by reading the Purpose Statement in the Articles of Incorporation. The Purpose Statement of a California General Stock Corporation will read as follows:

“The purpose of the corporation is to engage in any lawful act or activity for which a corporation may be organized under the General Corporation Law of California other than the banking business, the trust company business or the practice of a profession permitted to be incorporated by the California Corporations Code.”

The Purpose Statement of a General Stock Corporation formed in a state other than California will read similarly, although the accepted Purpose Statement wording will vary by state.

Purpose Statement of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

A California Corporation may be easily identified by reading the Purpose Statement in the Articles of Incorporation. The Purpose Statement of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation will read as follows:

” The purpose of the corporation is to engage in the profession of physician assistant and any other lawful activities (other than the banking or trust company business) not prohibited to a corporation engaging in such profession by applicable laws and regulations. This corporation is a professional corporation within the meaning of California Corporations Code section 13400 et. seq.”

What to Do if Practicing a Profession in a General Stock Corporation?

A physician assistant practicing as a physician assistant in California using a General Stock Corporation should contact the experienced attorneys at San Diego Corporate Law today for personalized legal solutions tailored to the unique needs of their physician assistant practice. Our team of corporate attorneys is dedicated to helping physician assistants seamlessly transition into a compliant corporate structure, safeguarding the future of their physician assistant practice and protecting the physician assistant license they studied and worked hard to obtain.

What are the Options for a Physician Assistant Practicing in a General Stock Corporation?

In California, physician assistants who discover they are not incompliance with the California Corporation Code, the California Business and Professions Code, and the rules and regulations of the Physician Assistant Board of California because they are practicing as a physician assistant under a General Stock Corporation should cease operating as a General Stock Corporation as soon as possible. These physician assistants are presented with two viable pathways to align their business structure with California laws and regulations: (1) forming a new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and thereafter dissolving and winding up the General Stock Corporation; or (2) converting their existing General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation. This section of the article will explore the considerations involved in each option, providing a clear roadmap for physician assistants facing the need to navigate this transition.

Forming a New California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and Dissolving and Winding Up the General Stock Corporation

Forming a new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation as a means to come into compliance with the California laws and regulations for corporate structures permitted to be used for physician assistant practices is a viable option for physician assistants operating their physician assistant practice under a General Stock Corporation. This option entails the establishment of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation that adheres to the specifics outlined in the Moscone-Knox Professional Corporation Act, the California Corporations Code, and California Business and Professions Code, thereby enabling the physician assistant to legally render physician assistant services within the State of California.

Forming a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

The initial step in forming a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation is drafting and filing Articles of Incorporation specific to as a physician assistant with the California Secretary of State. These Articles of Incorporation should include the required Purpose Statement for a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and should also comply with all pertinent codes and regulations specific to the profession of as a physician assistant. Subsequently, it is essential to adopt corporate Bylaws that govern the internal operations of the California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation. All of the required language that must be included in the corporate documents of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation should be included in the Articles of Incorporation and the corporate Bylaws. A California Statement of Information, Internal Revenue Service EIN, S Corporation election, California Limited Offering Exemption Notice, and FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Information Report should be filed for the new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, and all other corporate documents should be drafted and adopted.

Dissolving and Winding Up a General Stock Corporation

Upon the successful formation of the California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, attention must then turn to the dissolution and winding up of the General Stock Corporation. This process involves settling debts and obligations, distributing any remaining assets, and filing the necessary documentation with the state in which the General Stock Corporation is registered to officially terminate the corporate existence of the General Stock Corporation.

If the General Stock Corporation is a California General Stock Corporation, the experienced attorneys at San Diego Corporate Law can assist in the dissolution and winding up process by drafting the plan of dissolution, shareholder and board of directors approvals, and drafting and filing the Certificate of Election to Wind Up and Dissolve and the Certificate of Election to Wind Up and Dissolve with the California Secretary of State.

If the General Stock Corporation is registered in a state other than California, an attorney licensed to practice in the state where the General Stock Corporation is registered should assist with the dissolution and winding up of the General Stock Corporation.

When is Forming a New California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and Dissolving and Winding Up the General Stock Corporation the Best Option?

Transitioning to a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation not only assures compliance with California law but also provided the limited liability status for physician assistant shareholders, which is crucial for protecting their personal assets from business liabilities. Additionally, it aligns the business structure not only with the norms and expectations of a physician assistant practice within California, potentially enhancing its legitimacy and reputation among peers and clients, but also complies with the legal requirements for the physician assistant practice in California.

Forming a new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and dissolving and winding up the previously used General Stock Corporation is generally the less expensive of the two options, however, if the administrative burden of managing contracts with patients, vendors, business bank accounts, loss of operating history, or insurance coverage or panels to name a few would be less cumbersome with a conversion of the General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, the higher legal fees may justify using the conversion option as opposed to the formation of a new California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and the dissolution and winding up of the General Stock Corporation.

Physician Assistant navigating this transition should consult with legal and financial advisors to ensure a seamless and compliant shift from a General Stock Corporation to a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, ultimately ensuring that their physician assistant practice stands on solid legal and operational ground.

Converting the Existing General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

The conversion of an existing General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation is a structured process that necessitates meticulous planning and strict adherence to California law. This route allows business entities to transition structure without the need to dissolve the original business entity and form a new business entity, thus retaining its existing operational history, relationships, contracts, and potentially Internal Revenue Service EIN if the taxation type of the General Stock Corporation converting is the same as the resulting California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation.

Converting a California General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

The initial step in converting a California General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation is drafting Articles of Incorporation Conversion specific to as a physician assistant with the California Secretary of State. These Articles of Incorporation Conversion should include the required Purpose Statement for a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation and should also comply with all pertinent codes and regulations specific to the profession to be practiced. Subsequently, it is essential to adopt new corporate Bylaws that govern the internal operations of the California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, as these corporate Bylaws will differ significantly from the corporate Bylaws used by a California General Stock Corporation. All of the required language that must be included in the corporate documents of a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation should be included in the Articles of Incorporation Conversion and the corporate Bylaws. A California Statement of Information and FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Information Report should be filed after conversion of a California General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation, and all other corporate documents required should be drafted and adopted.

Converting a General Stock Corporation Registered Outside of California into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation

Not all states allow the conversion of business structures registered in their state to other states. However, if permitted, the process of converting a General Stock Corporation registered in a state other than California into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation is similar to converting a California General Stock Corporation into a California General Stock Corporation with the addition of an additional set of filings made with the state in which the General Stock Corporation was registered prior to the conversion into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation to inform that state that the conversion has occurred.

When is Converting a General Stock Corporation into a California Professional Physician Assistant Corporation the Best Option?

Conversion presents a practical option for physician assistants seeking to align their corporate structure with the legal regulatory requirements of California laws and regulations without disrupting the continuity of the business operations. Legal and financial advisories play a key role in navigating the conversion process, ensuring that the transition not only complies with California laws and regulations, but also positions the physician assistant practice for sustained success and growth within the legal framework of a California Professional Corporation.





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