Maryland pioneers 'benefit corporation' companies

The state has a new class of company, a hybrid of for-profit and non-profit

October 01, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland became the first state in the nation Friday to create a new class of company that falls between a for-profit and a non-profit, giving companies flexibility to generate public benefits along with profits.

Eleven people lined up early Friday in the charter division of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation to register businesses as "benefit corporations," said Robert E. Young, the department's acting deputy director.

The state's benefit corporation legislation was signed into law in April and took effect Friday. Vermont passed similar legislation in the spring, which is not yet in effect. Nearly a dozen other states have either introduced bills or are expected to propose similar measures next year.

Under Maryland law, a so-called B. Corp. pays taxes and has shareholders but is shielded from shareholder lawsuits if the company chooses to channel some profits to benefit employees, the community or the environment.

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