It’s getting closer to the time of year that most business owners dread… tax season! While navigating the multiple required tax returns and complicated tax rules can be a challenge for business owners, it doesn’t have to make you feel like you’re preparing to go to war with the IRS. The IRS’s website, irs.gov contains a plethora of helpful information and forms, and we’ve done our best to navigate through the maze of pages to bring you the most relevant information that you need to file your business tax returns.
The first thing that you need to know as a business owner is that there are 4 general types of business taxes:
- Income tax
- Self-employment tax
- Employment taxes
- Excise taxes
Income tax returns need to be filed by all business (minus partnerships – they must file an information return). The specific return filed depends on your business structure, so check out the business structure section toward the bottom of this article to find the appropriate forms for your business.
Self-employment tax returns cover your payments into Social Security and Medicare. You can download and file the required SE Schedule if you either had net earnings over $400 while working for yourself or if you were paid $108.28 or more in wages from a church or organization that was exempt from paying Social Security or Medicare taxes.
Employment tax returns are required to be filed if you have any employees that work for you. This return covers any Social Security and Medicare taxes that you withheld from your employees’ pay, as well as your matching amount. You‘d want to report this information on either Form 941 (filed quarterly), Form 944 (filed annually), or Form 943 (filed annually if you have agricultural employees).
Excise tax returns are required to be filed by businesses that sell or manufactures items that have an excise tax on them. If your business sells or manufactures the following items, you may be required to file an excise tax return: gasoline, diesel fuel, cigarettes, liquor, wine, airline tickets, tires, trucks, tanning, local phone service, or medical devices. For specifics on whether you have to file an excise tax return, check out the IRS website publication on excise taxes.
Or you can find and download your federal excise tax forms, but keep in mind that excise taxes can differ on the state level… always do your research about excise taxes specific to the state that you file in.
Tax return info by business size. The IRS website has handy information pages that aim to answer tax questions for businesses of all shapes and sizes:
- If you are newly self-employed, you can find answers to all of your burning tax questions.
- If you own a small business, you can search for forms and get answers to all of your questions.
- If you are self-employed or a small business owner, you can get even more help by taking the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Virtual Tax Workshop. Think of it as a tax-help class for small business owners.
- If you own a large or international business, you’ll find all the information you need to file.
Tax return forms by business structure. Different business structures have different tax return filing requirements. Utilize the IRS’s resources to find and download the correct forms for your business structure:
What about deductions? You can deduct anything that the IRS defines as “ordinary” and “necessary”. “Ordinary” meaning that it is something that is common and accepted in your industry and “necessary” meaning that it is something that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. For more help defining what is ordinary or necessary, visit the IRS guide on deducting business expenses.
Keep track of filing deadlines by with the IRS’s Tax Calendar. Make sure you never miss a due date or action.
Did you miss the filing deadline? It’s never too late to file, so make sure you visit the IRS website to find out what you should do and educate yourself on possible late filing repercussions.
Have any further questions or comments for us? Post those, along with any business tax advice you have, in our comments section!