Entrepreneurs Should Know About Federal Taxes for Corporations
All corporations are subject to the corporate income tax on their net income. Taxable income is the gross income of the corporation, less the deductions allowed. Major sources of corporate income include: gross profits from sales; dividends received; interest; rents; royalties; and gains and losses. Still, there can be other factors that must also be considered in determining the corporation's income. There include: receipts that are actually contributions to capital; property distributions received by the corporation; rentals paid to shareholders of a leasing corporation; and income from a sinking fund.
Each business's tax liability is based on a graduated tax rate scale. Depending on individual factors, a corporation may also be subject to penalty taxes in addition to their regular income tax. The form of business that is operated determines what taxes must be paid. The four general kinds of business taxes are: income tax, self-employment tax, employment taxes and excise taxes. (see Appendix A)
Most corporations must make estimated tax payments for the business if it will owe tax of $500 or more when it files its return. Form 1120-W, Estimated Tax for Corporations, is generally used to figure the estimated tax.
However, the fact that many different types of corporations exist make corporate taxes more complicated. For example, one corporation's stock may be publicly traded while only a few shareholders own another's stock. Some corporations are not-for-profit entities. In addition, there are also S Corporations and limited liability companies.
Corporations are corporations for legal purposes but treated as flow-through entities for tax purposes. This helps avoid the double taxation problem inflicted on regular corporations. The limited liability company (LLC) enjoys greater flexibility with regard to the capital structure and organization of the business.
A regular corporation (C corporation) is a separate legal entity that pays its own tax. AC corporation distributes profits to shareholders in the form of dividend distributions. Since these distributions are not tax deductible, the issue of double taxation rears its ugly head.
Taxes and Penalties
Corporations are subject to double taxation. The corporation, when reporting its earnings, must pay the first level of tax, and the second level of tax is paid when the earnings are distributed to shareholders as dividends. Each shareholder must pay taxes separately on his or her dividends. The corporation is not able to deduct the distribution of dividends.
There are many similarities in the taxation of both individuals and corporations. However, there are also many differences. One significant difference is the dividends received deduction. This condition allows corporations a deduction for a portion of the dividends received from other corporations, therefore avoiding triple taxation.
The maximum corporate tax rate is only 38%, while the maximum individual tax rate is almost 40%. This difference encourages many individuals to incorporate certain activities to take advantage of potentially lower tax rates. In an effort to put a stop to these efforts, a number of penalty taxes have been recently passed. These penalty taxes include the Accumulated Earnings Tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax and the Personal Holding Company Tax. These provisions further complicate corporate taxes.
The IRS imposes an Accumulated Earnings Tax, when the corporation retains earnings beyond the reasonable needs of the business, which is usually $250,000. AET is an additional tax on earnings that applies when a business retains earnings in an attempt to avoid the higher income taxes the owners would be subject to if the earnings were paid out to them as dividends.
The Alternative Minimum Tax is an additional tax some businesses have to pay on top of the regular income tax. When it applies, the cost can be substantial. This tax basically prevents businesses with very high incomes from using special tax benefits to pay little or no tax. The AMT rules determine minimum amount of tax that a business with a high income should be required to pay. If the business is paying at least that much because of the regular income tax, its does not have to pay AMT. However, if its regular tax falls below this minimum, it must pay the difference.
The Personal Holding Company Tax is an obligatory tax that aims to discourage the use of the corporate form to shelter the income of high tax bracket individuals from the individual tax rates. To be considered a…