Individual taxpayers don't need to write April 15th on their calendar to remember the date, but businesses have many more deadlines to keep track of. Nobody particularly likes deadlines, but keeping track of important ones can save you from costly interest, penalties, and back taxes. Ultimately, filing all documents and making all payments on time will save you from unpleasant surprises in the future.
Keeping records and a calendar
It's important to maintain organized and up-to-date business records throughout the year, so you don't find yourself scrambling before each due date or even worse after each due date has passed. Paying taxes is hard enough; paying interest and penalties is unnecessarily painful and easily avoidable.
Keep a calendar of important dates, so you don't miss any filings. You can create your own calendar reminders or use this handy tool from the IRS to send you warnings in advance of the due dates you choose to track.
Every individual and business needs to file an annual income tax return. There are different forms and deadlines based on the business structure. Sole proprietors file Form 1040, also known as Schedule C. Partnerships and LLCs file Form 1065, and corporations file Form 1120. All of these annual forms essentially report business income or loss.
Estimated quarterly tax payments
Even though you will file an annual return, the IRS wants you to pay taxes as you earn income throughout the year. Hence, businesses also need to file and pay estimated quarterly tax payments due at specific intervals throughout the year. Even if you are paid in full by year-end or when you file your annual return, you will still incur interest and penalties for any individual late payment.
Like businesses filing a tax return to report profit or loss, the IRS also wants to know how much everyone else earned. Businesses must give employees and independent contractors a summary of their earnings and file a copy with the IRS. Employees receive Form W-2, and non-employees receive Form 1099.
To stay ahead of the game on this one, have independent contractors fill out Form W-9 when you pay them for the first time. This will capture their personal or business information and Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN), so you won't have to scramble to gather it at the last minute. Even better, if they complete their work for the calendar year, you can file the form early.
If you know you will not be ready to file on time, you can apply for an extension using Form 7004, and the IRS will grant a six-month extension.
Note that an extension only applies to the due date for filing a return and not to taxes owed. An extension does not absolve your business from paying taxes on time. If you file an extension, you won't receive a penalty for late filing, but you will still receive a penalty and interest on the late payment. The interest compounds daily and adds up quickly.
State income tax
Of course, the states want their share of taxes as well, and the due dates for state income taxes vary by state. Many states follow the IRS due dates for filing and grant the same six-month extension as the IRS.
The IRS considers partnerships and S-corporations to be “pass-through entities" since they don't pay their own taxes; their share of income or loss is passed through to the individual tax-paying members. Whenever one of these entities files an annual return, they must issue a Form K-1 to each member to know their share of company profit or loss.
Deadlines for filing
Note that when a due date falls out on a weekend or holiday, it is pushed off to the next business day.
- Pay estimated taxes for the fourth quarter of the previous year (individuals)
- Distribute wage statements: 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC to non-employees, W-2 to employees
- Submit 1099-NEC to IRS
- Submit 1099-MISC to IRS-paper form
- File S-corporation tax return: Form 1120-S
- File partnership tax return: Form 1065
- Submit 1099-MISC to IRS-electronic
- File C-corporation tax return: Form 1120
- File individual and sole proprietorship return: Form 1040
- Pay estimated taxes for the first calendar quarter
- Pay estimated taxes for the second calendar quarter
- Extension deadline for S-corporations and partnerships
- Pay estimated taxes for the third quarter
- Extension deadline for individuals and C-corporations
- Pay estimated taxes for the fourth calendar quarter (corporations)
Staying on top of deadlines is a small investment that will yield large results. Knowing your particular deadlines is half the battle, and maintaining excellent records will ensure that you meet each one without too much hassle.