When should we use IRS Form 8893?

If you have a partner, the partnership tax treatment is automatic. The LLC is a disregarded entity at the Federal level.

Even if you don't have a formal partnership agreement, when you are in business with another person you are automatically a partnership and have to file a partnership return (Form 1065). A partnership is a pass-through entity in that the income or loss from the partnership passes to the partners and is taxed on the partners' individual tax returns.

The Form 8893 has nothing to do with how your LLC is taxed. It's for specialized treatment at audit and at trial for small partnerships. Read the election statement on the form, which states, in part: "This election will subject the partnership to the unified audit and litigation procedures of sections 6221 through 6234."

This is a somewhat complex matter in tax law and you'd be advised to consult with an expert before making the election. Under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), audit procedures were changed for partnerships. Prior to TEFRA, each partner was audited separately and one partner's outcome did not necessarily affect another partner's outcome. TEFRA changed that so that most partnerships are audited as a single entity and the outcome affects all partners. Small partnerships, having less than 10 partners, are exempt from TEFRA procedures unless the partnership elects TEFRA treatment.

If you make this election, your partnership will be treated as a large partnership for audit and court proceedings. This may or may not be in your best interests. That's why expert consultation with a CPA or EA is needed before you make this election. It won't affect how your partnership is taxed, but it will affect how audits are handled.