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Small business tax forms: Your comprehensive guide

September 29, 2023
Minh Mai

For small business owners, managing tax forms can feel daunting. However, achieving compliance is crucial not just for legal reasons but also for your business’s stability. These forms, complex as they may seem, serve as essential tools to ensure you meet your financial obligations.

In this blog, we'll shed light on the ins and outs of small business tax forms. And with Stable's expertise in mail and document management, missing a tax deadline can be one less concern on your list.

Key small business tax forms

Navigating the world of business taxation means understanding the many forms that come with it. These documents, vital for your company's operational and financial well-being, vary in purpose and complexity. Let's dive into some of the most significant ones to help streamline your tax journey.

Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN)

At its core, Form SS-4 is used to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This serves as a unique identifier for your business, akin to a social security number for individuals. It's indispensable for tasks like hiring employees, opening a bank account, and filing tax returns.

Who needs to file it: Any business entity, such as corporations, partnerships, and even certain trusts, needs an EIN and thus, this form.

Deadline: There isn't a specific deadline for Form SS-4, but you'll want to file it before undertaking any activity that requires an EIN.

Form 1099: Miscellaneous Income

Form 1099 is an umbrella for documents that record different income types other than salaries. For small businesses, it primarily relates to transactions with independent contractors or freelancers, tracking non-employee compensation.

Who needs to file it: Businesses that pay independent contractors or freelancers over $600 in a tax year are required to issue this form.

Deadline: Form 1099s should be submitted to the IRS and dispatched to recipients by January 31st.

Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation

Opting for the tax advantages of an S corporation? Form 2553 is what you'll need. It allows corporations to pass income and losses directly to shareholders, bypassing the corporate tax.

Who needs to file it: Eligible corporations looking to be treated as an S corporation for tax purposes.

Deadline: For the S corporation status to start at the beginning of the tax year, Form 2553 should be filed no later than two months and 15 days after the start of that year.

Form 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

Form 2848 grants specific individuals the authority to represent your business before the IRS, offering them access to confidential tax information and allowing them to perform specific acts on behalf of the business.

Who needs to file it: Any business entity needing to grant authority to an individual or firm to manage their tax affairs.

Deadline: There's no set deadline for Form 2848, but it should be filed prior to the representative's required action or interaction with the IRS.

Form 4797: Sales of Business Property

Dealing with the sale or exchange of property used in your trade? Form 4797 captures gains and losses from these transactions, ensuring accurate tax calculations.

Who needs to file it: Businesses that sell or exchange property, whether tangible (like machinery) or intangible (like a patent).

Deadline: This form should be filed with your annual tax return, following the deadline for the respective tax year.

Form 8822-B: Change of Address or Responsible Party — Business

Whenever there’s a change in the address or responsible party for a business, Form 8822-B ensures the IRS is in the loop. (Pro tip: Stable will prefill this form for any customer planning to use a Stable address, so you can spend more time focusing on your business and less time chasing down paperwork!)

Who needs to file it: Businesses that have recently changed their address or responsible party.

Deadline: It's recommended to file Form 8822-B within 60 days of the change to ensure smooth communication with the IRS.

Income tax forms

Income tax forms are the bedrock of your financial reporting and tax payments to the IRS. As a small business owner, understanding these documents ensures you accurately represent your income and pay the taxes you owe — no more and no less.

Let’s explore some of these critical IRS forms, delving into their significance and deadlines.

Form 1040: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Form 1040 is the standard way to report an individual’s gross income. While primarily used by individuals, many self-employed persons or sole proprietors use this form, as their business earnings are considered personal income.

Who needs to file it: Primarily individuals, but also applicable to sole proprietorships and single-member limited liability company (LLC) owners.

Deadline: Generally, Form 1040 should be filed by April 15th of the following tax year.

Form 1065: U.S. Return of Partnership Income

Form 1065 breaks down a partnership's income, tax deductions, and credits. Its results provide individual partners with a Schedule K-1, detailing their share of the partnership's profits or losses.

Who needs to file it: Partnerships and multiple-member LLCs that have not opted to be treated as a corporation.

Deadline: Form 1065 must be submitted by March 15th of the following tax year.

Form 1120: U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return

This form reports a corporation's income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits. It is crucial for determining its income tax liability.

Who needs to file it: All domestic corporations must file this form unless they are exempt.

Deadline: Generally, Form 1120 is due by the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the corporation's fiscal year.

Form 1120-S: U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation

While similar to Form 1120, the 1120-S is specifically for S corporations, allowing income, losses, deductions, and credits to pass through directly to their shareholders.

Who needs to file it: Corporations that have elected the S corporation status with the IRS.

Deadline: March 15th of the following tax year.

Form 8832: Entity Classification Election

Form 8832 allows entities to select their classification for federal tax purposes. For instance, an LLC could use this form to be taxed as a corporation.

Who needs to file it: Business entities making an initial classification or changing their current tax classification.

Deadline: There isn’t a fixed deadline for Form 8832. However, the entity’s chosen classification cannot take effect more than 75 days prior to the date the election is filed, nor can it take effect later than 12 months after filing the form.

Employment tax forms

When you're running a business, it's not just about income; it's also about employment. As employers, small businesses have tax responsibilities tied to their employees, making it crucial to understand employment tax forms.

The following forms encompass a range of duties, from reporting annual employees’ wages to withholding income taxes. 

Form 940: Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) Tax Return

Form 940 addresses unemployment taxes, ensuring that employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own have financial support.

Who needs to file it: Employers who paid wages of $1,500 or more in any calendar quarter or had an employee work for any part of a week during 20 or more weeks in a year.

Deadline: January 31st of the following year.

Form 941: Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return

This form reports the federal withholdings from most types of employees. It encompasses income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax.

Who needs to file it: All employers who withhold their employees' income tax, Social Security tax, or Medicare tax.

Deadline: Four times a year, typically the last day of the month following the end of the quarter.

Form 944: Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return

Designed for smaller employers, this form allows them to report Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income taxes annually instead of quarterly.

Who needs to file it: Eligible small employers who are notified by the IRS to file Form 944 instead of Form 941.

Deadline: January 31st of the following year.

Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement

This form details the wages and taxes withheld for each employee during the year.

Who needs to file it: Employers must issue this form to each employee from whom income, Social Security, or Medicare tax was withheld.

Deadline: Must be filed with the Social Security Administration by January 31st.

Form W-3: Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements

Accompanying Form W-2, the W-3 summarizes the total earnings, Social Security wages, Medicare wages, and withholding for all employees in the past year.

Who needs to file it: Employers sending multiple W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration.

Deadline: January 31st.

Form W-4: Employee's Withholding Certificate

Employees use this form to dictate how much federal income tax should be withheld from their pay.

Who needs to file it: Every new employee at the time of hire, or existing employees who want to adjust their withholdings.

Deadline: When circumstances change for the employee.

Form W-9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification

Primarily used when businesses need to request the taxpayer identification number (TIN) of a third party (like a contractor), ensuring the accuracy of the individual's tax reporting.

Who needs to file it: Employers hiring freelancers or independent contractors.

Deadline: Before an individual begins work or prior to services being rendered.

Tax credits and deduction forms

Navigating the maze of tax responsibilities can be daunting, but on the flip side, there are numerous tax credits and deductions to offset those liabilities. Leveraging these can significantly benefit small businesses, potentially reducing their tax bill. 

Form 4562: Depreciation and Amortization

For small businesses, investments in assets are necessary for growth. Form 4562 is used to claim the depreciation deduction for assets that have been acquired and placed in service during the tax year.

Who needs to file it: Any business with assets that require depreciation or amortization must file this form.

Deadline: Typically, it's filed with your annual tax return, so the deadline coincides with that due date.

Form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

Home-based businesses or those using a portion of their home for work can benefit from Form 8829. It allows them to calculate and claim business expenses related to the working use of their home, optimizing savings.

Who needs to file it: Small business owners or self-employed individuals using part of their home for business purposes.

Deadline: File it with your annual tax return so the deadline aligns with your return.

Form 7004: Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns

The unexpected can happen. When businesses require more time to assemble their tax documents, Form 7004 provides a lifeline, granting them an automatic extension on various tax forms.

Who needs to file it: Businesses unable to submit their returns by the original due date and who are seeking an extension.

Deadline: The deadline varies based on the specific return you’re seeking an extension for, but generally, it's due on the date of the original tax return.

Other important tax forms

While we've delved into some key tax forms, there are other important documents that you’ll need for different aspects of your operations. Whether it's state-specific needs or particular financial situations, these forms play a pivotal role. Let's shed some light on these other important tax forms.

State and local: Tailored to individual state and local requirements, these forms address income, sales, and other tax obligations specific to a region. Compliance ensures businesses avoid local penalties.

Form 5500: An annual return/report of employee benefit plans, it's pivotal for businesses to maintain transparency regarding their benefits offerings.

Form 1045: Applied in situations where a business has net operating losses, it allows businesses to request tentative refunds of certain tax types.

Form 1099-R: Essential for businesses that have made distributions from pensions, annuities, retirement plans, or profit-sharing, ensuring accurate reporting of these disbursements.

Form 720: This is used by businesses to report liabilities for excise taxes. It’s a quarterly federal excise tax return, relevant for businesses dealing in specified goods or services.

Never miss a tax deadline with Stable

In the intricate world of small business taxes, awareness of the myriad of forms and their deadlines is crucial. But you're not alone in this.

With Stable, not only can you keep every crucial document at your fingertips with our mail digitization services, but our timely Stable Reminders will also ensure email notifications hit your inbox well before vital federal and state filings are due.

Couple that with the advantages of a virtual address, and you've elevated your business operations to a new tier of efficiency (especially if you have an LLC).

Ready to redefine your tax game? Get started with Stable and transform how you handle business mail and taxes.

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