|The dismal "science"|
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“”CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
|—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)|
A corporation is an artificial entity formed by one or more interested parties to achieve some specific end.
Usually the connotation is of profit-motivated, publicly-owned economic players, however the structure is also used to organize not-for-profit do-gooder projects, and some government functions are set up as semi-independent corporations.
 Corporations: Are they people?
 In the United States
In the United States, a series of Supreme Court decisions has given corporations effectively all the rights of human beings, except voting in public elections. Holding these fictitious persons accountable, e.g. for actions that would get an actual individual tossed in the slammer for a lengthy term, has proven to be unrealistic.
Meanwhile, Congress has expanded the ability of corporations to declare bankruptcy, while meanwhile restricting those rights to people. For example, student loans, auto loans, and credit card loans are all less discharged than corporate bonds, loans, and pension obligations to workers who have loyally worked at the same corporation for their whole life.
Some argue taxing corporations while denying the right to vote in elections is taxation without representation.
 In the Commonwealth system
Throughout the Commonwealth, corporations are generally considered to be "legal persons" by the common law system for the purposes of statutory interpretation (i.e. figuring out what a law means). This means that, if any given piece of legislation says "a person", that is taken to include both "legal persons" (corporations) and "natural persons" (homo sapiens). This means that corporations have many of the same rights and can commit many of the same crimes as natural persons, although there are many cases where a corporation would not be charged with a crime (it is, for example, very difficult for a corporation to commit assault).