Inc. is the abbreviation for incorporated. An incorporated company, or corporation, is a separate legal entity from the person or people forming it. Directors and officers purchase shares in the business and have responsibility for its operation. Incorporation limits an individual’s liability in case of a lawsuit. The corporation, as a legal entity, is liable for its own debts and pays taxes on its earnings, and can also sell stock to raise money. A corporation is also able to continue as an entity after the death of a director or stock sale. A corporation is formed according to state law, through application to the secretary of state and filing articles of incorporation. Because corporations cost more to administer and are legally complex, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that small businesses not incorporate unless they become established as a large company. In most states, corporations must add a corporate designation, such as Inc. after their business name.
A limited company can be abbreviated to Ltd. This structure is used mostly in European countries and Canada. In a limited company, directors and shareholders have limited liability for the company’s debt, as long as the business operates within the law. Its directors pay income tax and the company pays corporation tax on profits. Responsibility for company debt is usually limited to the amount a person has invested in the company. A limited company can be set up in four different ways. In some companies, a shareholder’s liability is limited to specific predetermined amounts, drawn up in a memorandum. These businesses are known as “private company limited by guarantee,” and shareholders are called guarantors. Charities and social enterprise groups frequently use this structure. In England, limited companies must also have a pay-as-you-earn system established for collecting income tax payments and National Insurance contributions from all employees.
There are actually no distinctions between them in Ontario.