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Your Small Business Tax Filing Checklist

Tax season is quickly approaching. For many business owners, this time of year comes with an annual headache and perhaps a sense of dread. Preparation can go a long way towards eliminating the pain that comes with the recurring chore of filing taxes. Here are a few things you need to know to win at taxes this year.

Your Tax Filing Checklist

  • Get the right tax form
  • Find your tax info
  • Report your taxes
  • File your small business deductions
  • Pay employee taxes
  • Know your tax deadlines

Know What Kind of Tax Form Your Small Business Needs

The first place to start with filing your taxes involves understanding your business structure. Your small business may be structured as one of the following and each type of business requires its own tax form.

Locate the Right Information for Tax Forms

The next step involves filling those forms out with the right information—sometimes easier said than done. The hard part often comes when you’re tracking down everything you need to compile all your tax forms. Knowing what these details are in advance can help simplify the tax filing process. Here’s what you’ll need to have handy.

  • Basic business details: You’ll need general business information, such as EIN (employer identification number) and legal name. Your business’s legal name may be different from the name that is displayed for public usage. You may also need to include your Social Security number as well. Make sure you know how to identify your business so that you are completing the right forms.
  • Income: Know how much money your business has made. Depending on what type of business you have, this may include goods, services, property (including rent), business dividends and interest on any loans. This will also include any product returns or allowances you’ve made during the year.
  • Employment taxes: You will need to deduct the necessary payroll taxes for any employees who have worked for your business. (Find more on this below.)
  • Small business tax deductions: You can deduct any expenses that are related to the operation of your business and you’ll definitely want to! This involves the necessary costs that come with running your business, such as transportation expenses, utilities, depreciation, and purchase of office or building supplies. Others deductions may come in the form of contact labor on your space, any employee benefits, advertising costs (including social media), property taxes, legal fees, professional services for your business, licensing, and other items. Make sure you track all expenses. (Take a look here to identify some often-overlooked small business deductions.)

Know What Taxes You Owe as a Small Business

The last thing you need is a last-minute gotcha waiting around after you’ve filed. Businesses ae subject to many different types of taxes and you’ll want to account for those throughout the year. The general categories include the following.

  • Income taxes: Taxes must be paid on your profits. This amount will vary depending on your business’s structure. If you operate across state borders, you may need to pay taxes to more than one state. This can vary based on the amount you make and is subject to change.
  • Employment taxes: If you have employees who work for you, you need to pay employment taxes, also known as payroll taxes. Employers are responsible for contributions to Social Security and Medicare.
  • Self-employment taxes: Owners must also pay taxes on their income. Just because you own a business doesn’t mean you are exempt from FICA payroll taxes for your own work. You must pay these on a quarterly basis and be able to account for them when tax time comes calling. These will include both federal and state taxes. State taxes will vary and you should research your own state’s tax rules. (This self-employment tax calculator can help you determine how much you owe.)
  • Excise taxes: Excise taxes only apply to businesses that sell certain goods, such as fuel, cigarettes, and alcohol. If your business sells goods, it’s always a good idea to determine if excise taxes are owed. Check here for an overview of businesses subject to excise taxes.
  • Sales taxes: You must also pay taxes based on sales. This is variable and is generally charged to the customer at the time of purchase, but it is your responsibility to pay those according to your state’s rates.

Make Sure You Have All the Tax info Needed for Your Employees

If you have employees, you will need to issue the necessary forms. Employees who work on a freelance or independent contractor basis will require you file a Form 1099. You’ll need to track payments that you’ve paid for services performed and report any payments that you’ve issued via cash, credit card, check, or payment service, such as Paypal or Venmo. If you have regular employees, you’ll need to issue a W-2.

Small Business Tax Deadlines to Know

You’ll want to make sure you have paid all taxes once it comes time to file. This can sometimes seem like a fun guessing game (okay, maybe not that fun). Knowing these dates—and sticking to them—will save you a ton of grief in the end. Here are the key small business tax deadlines you need to know.

  • January 31: Send W-2s and 1099s to employees
  • February 28: File 1099s and 1096s
  • March 15: File taxes or request extension if you’re a partnership, S corporation or multi-member LLC
  • April 15: Estimated Q1 federal taxes due
  • April 18: File taxes or request extension for single-member LLCs, sole proprietorships and C corporations
  • June 17: Estimated Q2 federal taxes due
  • September 16: Files taxes with extension for partnerships, S corporation or multi-member LLC
  • September 16: Estimated Q3 federal taxes due
  • October 15: File taxes with extension for single-member LLCs, sole proprietorships and C corporations
  • January 15: Estimated Q4 federal taxes due

Don’t let tax time get you down! Being a success at tax time means being a success all the time.