How to file business taxes for your small business

Entrepreneurship comes with many responsibilities—including filing business taxes. Here's what you need to know about tax filing for your small business.

by Janet Berry-Johnson
updated May 11, 2023 ·  3min read

Around 400,000 small businesses start up each year, and along with selling their product or service, new business owners face new tax filing requirements. There are various ways to file business taxes, depending on whether the business is structured as a pass-through business or incorporated.

Each business structure has its own tax forms and filing deadlines, but you don't have to become a tax law expert to file business taxes.

woman wearing an apron doing the books after hours

Step 1: Gather your business records

Calculating your small business tax liability starts with your business revenues and expenses. The best way to track your company's income and expenses is to use small business accounting software. There are several options out there, including QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Wave. If you use one of these apps, gathering your tax records may be as simple as printing a Profit & Loss Statement.

Otherwise, you may need to gather copies of your business bank account and credit card statements, invoices, receipts, payroll records, mileage logs, asset purchase details, and other records documenting your business income and deductions.

Step 2: Use the right tax forms

The tax forms you use to report business income depend on how your business is structured.

Whichever form you use to file your business taxes, the process is similar. Each form has a section for providing basic information about your business, including your business name, address, tax identification number, principal business activity, and accounting method. It also has boxes to enter common business income and expense categories, such as advertising, insurance, legal and professional fees, office expenses, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, utilities, and wages. If you have any expenses that don't fall into the categories provided, there's also a section to list those expenses separately.

Using tax preparation software or outsourcing your tax filings to a CPA or Enrolled Agent will make the process as painless as possible.

Step 3: File by the deadline

Different tax forms have different tax filing deadlines.

  • Schedule C for sole proprietors and single-member LLCs and Form 1120 for C corporations are generally due on April 15. For C corp taxpayers with a fiscal year-end, the deadline is the 15th day of the fourth month following the fiscal year-end.
  • Form 1065 for partnerships and multiple-member LLCs and Form 1120S for S corporations are generally due on March 15. For companies with a fiscal year-end, the filing deadline is the 15th day of the third month following the fiscal year-end.

If any of those deadlines falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline shifts to the next business day.

Don't forget your state income tax return. While most states follow the federal tax filing deadline, some don't, and each state has its own forms and tax rules. For that reason, you should work with a certified tax professional who is familiar with the laws in your state. They can ensure you fill out the right forms, take advantage of every available tax deduction and credit, and never miss a tax filing deadline.

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Janet Berry-Johnson

About the Author

Janet Berry-Johnson

A freelance writer with a background in accounting and income tax planning and preparation for individuals and small bus… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.