Owner's Draw vs. Salary


When it comes to compensating business owners, two common methods are owner’s draw and salary. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but choosing the right one depends on various factors. In this article, we will explore the differences between owner’s draw and salary, and help you understand which option may be the most suitable for your business needs.

Owner’s Draw: What is it?

An owner’s draw refers to the money that a business owner takes out of the company’s profits for personal use. It is not considered a business expense but is recorded as a reduction in the owner’s equity. This method is commonly used in partnerships, sole proprietorships, and certain types of LLCs.

Advantages of Owner’s Draw

One of the main advantages of taking an owner’s draw is flexibility. Since you are withdrawing money from the profits, you have the freedom to choose how much to take and when to take it. This can be especially beneficial for business owners with irregular income streams or those who need immediate access to cash.

Additionally, an owner’s draw does not incur payroll taxes, which can save you money in the short term. By avoiding payroll taxes, you can lower your overall tax burden and have more funds available for personal use.

Disadvantages of Owner’s Draw

While flexibility may be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage for some business owners. Without a set salary, it can be challenging to determine a consistent income and make long-term financial plans. This uncertainty can add stress and make it difficult to budget personal expenses.

Furthermore, an owner’s draw does not provide any benefits typically associated with traditional employment, such as health insurance, retirement contributions, or unemployment benefits. As a business owner, it becomes your responsibility to ensure that you have adequate coverage for these areas.

Salary: What is it?

Unlike an owner’s draw, a salary is a fixed amount of money paid to an employee for their work within a specified period, usually on a regular basis. It is the most common method of compensation for regular employees and is subject to income tax, payroll tax, and other relevant deductions.

Advantages of Salary

One of the key advantages of offering a salary is its stability. With a predetermined amount, employees can plan their finances better and have a consistent income source. This stability can be beneficial for individuals who prefer a predictable cash flow and need to meet regular financial obligations.

Moreover, salaries provide employees access to various benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and other perks. These can significantly enhance an employee’s overall compensation package, attract top talent, and foster a sense of loyalty and commitment among the workforce.

Disadvantages of Salary

One major disadvantage of salary payments is the higher tax burden placed on both the employer and the employee. Salary payments are subject to income tax, social security tax, Medicare tax, and other payroll taxes. Consequently, employers may need to allocate additional funds to accommodate these tax obligations, reducing the available resources for other business expenses or investments.

Additionally, salaries can be less flexible compared to an owner’s draw. If a business experiences tough times or has fluctuating profits, it may be challenging to adjust salary payments accordingly. This lack of flexibility may pose financial challenges for both the employer and employees.

Owner’s Draw vs. Salary: Which one should you choose?

The choice between an owner’s draw and a salary depends on your specific business circumstances and personal preferences. Here are a few factors to consider when making this decision:

1. Business structure: Different legal structures, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, may be better suited for an owner’s draw, while corporations and LLCs may require salaries for owners who also provide services to the company.

2. Financial stability: If your business experiences consistent profits and you have a clear picture of your financial needs, a salary might be a better option to ensure a stable income.

3. Cash flow requirements: If you need immediate access to cash or have irregular income streams, an owner’s draw can provide you with the flexibility you need to cover personal expenses.

4. Employee recruitment and retention: If you have employees, offering salaries with benefits can help attract and retain top talent while providing them with additional perks and financial security.

Ultimately, it is crucial to consult with a financial advisor or accountant who can assess your specific situation and provide personalized guidance on the most suitable compensation method for your business.


Deciding whether to opt for an owner’s draw or a salary is an essential consideration for business owners. While an owner’s draw offers flexibility and potential tax advantages, a salary provides stability and benefits typically associated with employment. By carefully evaluating your business structure, financial needs, and long-term goals, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business’s best interests.


1. Can I change my compensation method from owner’s draw to salary or vice versa?

Yes, as a business owner, you can change your compensation method from an owner’s draw to a salary or vice versa. However, it is essential to consider the legal and tax implications of such a change and consult with an accountant or financial advisor before making any modifications.

2. Are there any legal requirements for salaries or owner’s draws?

Yes, there are legal requirements for both salaries and owner’s draws. Salaries must comply with minimum wage laws, overtime regulations, and other relevant labor laws. On the other hand, owner’s draws should follow the guidelines set by business entity laws and agreements in place.

3. Can I receive both an owner’s draw and a salary?

Yes, it is possible for business owners to receive both an owner’s draw and a salary. This can be suitable for business owners who also perform specific services for the company in addition to their ownership responsibilities. However, it is essential to ensure that the overall compensation remains reasonable and complies with tax regulations.

4. How do owner’s draws and salaries impact my personal tax obligations?

Owner’s draws and salaries are treated differently for tax purposes. Owner’s draws are not subject to payroll taxes and are classified as personal income, while salaries are subject to income tax, payroll tax, and other relevant deductions. Consult with a tax professional or accountant to understand the specific implications for your personal tax obligations.

5. Can I take an owner’s draw even if my business is not profitable?

Taking an owner’s draw when your business is not profitable can have legal and tax implications. It is crucial to consult with an accountant or financial advisor to understand the implications and requirements based on your specific business circumstances and jurisdiction.

6. Does choosing a salary or an owner’s draw impact my liability as a business owner?

The choice of compensation method, whether a salary or an owner’s draw, generally does not directly impact your liability as a business owner. However, it is essential to ensure that you have appropriate legal protections in place and comply with the requirements of your business structure to minimize personal liability. Consulting with a legal professional can provide further guidance in this regard.


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