Filing My Business Tax Return: Which Form Do I Need?

business tax return

Every year, business owners face the task of filing their business tax returns. This can include federal, state, and even local filings.  There’s no getting around it, but the good news is you can be prepared. Let’s dive into the details of choosing the correct tax form for your business.

Business Tax Return 

Every business owner needs to file a business tax return each year. This report is like a financial summary of your company. It shows the IRS your business income, any deductions you can take to lower your taxes, and how much tax you owe.

The exact form you use depends on what type of business you have and what deductions you claim. For instance, if you run your business from your home office, you might be able to claim a deduction for its use on your tax return.

Who Pays Business Taxes?

In the United States, how a business is structured determines who is responsible for paying taxes on its profits. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • C corporations: The corporation itself pays income tax on its profits.
  • Sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and S corporations: The owners of the business pay taxes on their share of the business’s profits on their tax returns. This is known as “pass-through taxation.”

Filing Your Business Tax Return: Step-by-Step

Filing a business tax return can seem complicated, but it can be broken down into four simple steps. Let’s walk through them one at a time:

1. Gather Your Business Tax Documents 

Before you file your business taxes, it’s important to collect all the necessary documents. This will make the filing process smoother and less stressful. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need:

  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): This is a unique nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. You’ll need your TIN to file your tax return. If you haven’t obtained one yet, you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online through the IRS website.
  • Financial Records: You’ll need complete financial records to accurately report your business income and expenses on your tax return. These records typically include financial statements like income statements and balance sheets, along with supporting documents like receipts.
    • Income Statement: This document shows your business’s revenue and expenses for the year. Use the income statement to fill out the income section of your tax return and claim deductions for business expenses.
    • Balance Sheet: This document provides a snapshot of your business’s financial health at a specific point in time. It shows your assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe), and equity (the difference between the two). You’ll use the balance sheet to report your annual business income.
    • Supporting Documents: Keep any documents that support the information in your financial statements. These documents serve as evidence to back up your claims on your tax return in case of an audit.

2. Determine your tax form according to the business structure

The type of business you have determines which tax form you need to file. Here’s a breakdown to help you identify the right one:

Sole Proprietorship:

If you go with a sole proprietorship, it’s easy-peasy. You are the business, so tax filing is a breeze. Just report all your business income and expenses on a Schedule C along with your personal income tax return (business tax form 1040). No separate business tax.

C Corporation:

If you opt for a C corporation (C corp), you’ll file Form 1120 for your business return. It’s a bit more complex than a sole proprietorship. You’ll need to provide balance sheet info and answer more questions.


In a partnership, you’ll use Form 1065 to file your return. Partnerships don’t pay tax themselves. Instead, profits and tax items pass through to each partner, who reports them on their personal tax return using Schedule E, Part II of Business tax form 1040

S Corporation:

S corporations (S corps) are like C corps but with a limited number of shareholders. Profits and losses are reported on Form 1120-S, and shareholders report them on their tax returns. This way, the S corp avoids double taxation.

Nonprofit Organization:

Nonprofits file Form 990 to report income, expenses, and other info. If you’re paid by your nonprofit, you’ll get a W-2 to report earnings on your personal tax return.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): 

With an LLC, you can file Schedule C if you own 100% of it. But if you’re a multi-member LLC, you have more options. You can choose to be taxed as a C corp, S corp, or partnership, depending on what fits best for you.

3. Submitting Your Completed Tax Forms

Once you have finished filling out the business tax return form, it’s time to send it to the IRS. The due date for filing depends on the type of business you have.


  • March 15th: This is the deadline for partnerships and multi-member LLCs to file Form 1065 and distribute Schedule K-1 to their partners. S corporations also need to file Form 1120-S by this date.
  • April 15th: This is the deadline for sole proprietors and single-member LLCs to submit Schedule C. Corporations that follow the calendar year (ending December 31st) must also file corporate tax return form 1120 by April 15th.
  • Different Fiscal Year-End: If your corporation has a fiscal year ending on a date other than December 31st, your due date is a bit different. It’s the 15th day of the fourth month after your tax year closes. There’s one exception – corporations with a fiscal year ending on June 30th need to file by September 15th (the 15th day of the third month after closing).

Filing Methods:

There are two main ways to file your business tax return:

  • By Mail: You can send your completed forms to the IRS by traditional mail.
  • Electronically: The IRS also offers an e-File system for submitting your return electronically. In some cases, e-filing might even be mandatory for your business.


Running a bit behind on your taxes? You can request a six-month extension to file your return by submitting the appropriate form. However, this extension only applies to the actual return itself. If you’re a partnership filing Form 1065, you still need to distribute Schedule K-1 to your partners by the original March 15th deadline, even if you get an extension for the return.

Payment Arrangements:

If you can’t afford to pay your entire tax bill by the due date, don’t panic! The IRS offers payment arrangement options.  Just contact them to discuss your situation and work out a plan.

4. Consult experts for help and guidance

Filing business taxes can be complex, but you don’t have to go it alone. Our team of experienced tax professionals is here to help. We can guide you through the filing process, ensure accuracy, and help you maximize your deductions and credits. Don’t miss out on potential savings!

Schedule a free initial consultation call with one of our tax experts. They’ll answer your questions, explain your options in clear terms, and help you navigate the tax filing process with confidence. Our team has years of experience, so you can be sure you’re getting sound advice.

Let us take the stress out of business taxes. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!

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Ques. 1. Which Tax Forms Do I Need for My Small Business?

Ans. Knowing which tax forms to file is the first step to successfully completing your small business taxes. Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones based on your business structure:

Sole Proprietors

  • Business Tax Form 1040: This is your standard individual income tax return.
  • Schedule C: This form specifically reports your business profit or loss.


  • Form 1040: Each partner files this form for their individual income taxes.
  • Form 1065: This form reports the partnership’s income or loss.
  • Form 965-A: This form reports each partner’s share of the partnership’s income tax.
  • Schedule E: Use this form to report any income or loss from other partnerships or sole proprietorships you may be involved in.

LLCs (Limited Liability Companies)

  • Form 1040: If your LLC has only one owner, you’ll file this form for your individual income taxes.
  • Form 1065: This form is used if your LLC has multiple owners, similar to a partnership.
  • Form 1120: This is the corporate income tax return form 1120, used if you elected to be taxed as a separate corporation from your LLC.
  • Form 1120-S: This S corporation tax return is used if you further elected to have your LLC taxed as an S corporation.

Remember: This is just a general overview. There may be other forms you need depending on your specific business situation.  For the most accurate filing, consult with our tax professional.

Ques. 2. How can I deduct my home office expenses on my taxes?

Ans. Running a business from home allows you to deduct a portion of your workspace expenses. This deduction is claimed on Schedule C (for sole proprietors, LLCs, and partnerships) using Form 8829. There are two main methods to calculate this deduction: the simplified method and the standard method.

The Simplified Method:

  • This is the easier method to use.
  • You simply multiply the square footage of your dedicated work area by $5 per square foot.
  • There’s a maximum of 300 square feet that can be claimed.

Business tax return example on deduction: If your home office is 100 square feet, your deduction would be $500 (100 sq ft x $5/sq ft).

On the other hand standard method involves calculating the percentage of your home dedicated to business use and applying that percentage to certain home expenses (like mortgage interest and utilities).

Ques. 3. Am I Eligible for the Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction?

Ans. The QBI deduction is a tax benefit that allows many small business owners and self-employed individuals to reduce their taxable income by up to 20%.

Here’s a quick rundown to see if you qualify:

1. Do you report your business income on your tax return?

– If so, you likely have “pass-through income” and may be eligible for the QBI deduction.

2. What’s your taxable income for 2023?
– The deduction applies if your taxable income is below $182,000 for single filers and $364,200 for married couples filing jointly.

3. What if my income is higher or my situation is different?
– There might still be ways to qualify. For a more detailed look, you can check out this helpful Nerdwallet article that explores QBI eligibility in more depth.

Ques. 4. Can I Reduce My Taxes by Claiming Business Expenses?

Ans. Yes!  Running a small business involves many costs, and the IRS allows you to deduct many of these expenses from your taxable income. This can significantly reduce your tax bill each year.

To qualify for a deduction, a business expense must be both common in your industry (ordinary) and helpful for your business (necessary).

Ques.5. How do I withhold and report payroll taxes?

Ans. Every business with employees needs to collect and pay taxes on their behalf. These taxes include:

  • Social Security and Medicare (FICA): Funds important government programs.
  • Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA): Helps people who lose their jobs.
  • State Unemployment Tax (SUTA): A state-level program similar to FUTA.
  • Local Payroll Taxes: This may apply depending on your location.

The Process:

  1. Withholding: Deduct these taxes from your employees’ paychecks each time you pay them.
  2. Reporting: Send these withheld taxes to the IRS, typically monthly or bi-weekly.
  3. Quarterly Reports: File Form 941 every quarter to detail the withheld taxes.

Ques. 5. Does hiring independent contractors affect my taxes differently than hiring employees?

Ans.  Yes, there can be significant tax advantages to hiring independent contractors. Unlike employees, you don’t withhold income taxes, Social Security, or Medicare from their pay. They are responsible for paying these taxes themselves. This can simplify your payroll process.

Important Note: It’s crucial to correctly classify workers as either employees or contractors.  The IRS has specific guidelines for this classification.  If you misclassify an employee as a contractor, you could be held liable for unpaid taxes and penalties.

Ques. 6. Can I Use Past Business Losses to Reduce Future Taxes?

Ans. Yes! In the United States, businesses experiencing a Net Operating Loss (NOL) in one year can benefit from a tax benefit in future years. This benefit is called an NOL carryforward.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say your business loses $50 in year one (meaning you wouldn’t owe taxes on that loss) and then makes $100 in profit in year two. Normally, you would pay taxes on the full $100 profit. However, with the NOL carryforward, you can subtract your year one loss from your year two profit before taxes are calculated.

In this example, that means you’d only be taxed on $50 of profit in year two, reducing your tax bill.

Ques. 7. How Long Should You Keep Your Small Business Tax Records?

Ans. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has specific guidelines on how long you should keep your small business tax records. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand:

In most cases, you can keep your records for 3 years from the date you filed your tax return or the date you paid the tax (whichever is later). This applies if none of the situations below apply to you.

If you claim a credit or refund after filing your return, you’ll need to keep your records for 3 years from the date you filed the claim.

For bad debt or worthless securities losses, hang on to your records for 7 years.

If you accidentally underreport your income by more than 25%, you’ll need to keep your records for 6 years.

There are a couple of situations where you should keep your records indefinitely:

  • If you never file a tax return for a particular year.
  • If you file a fraudulent tax return.

Employment tax records need to be kept for at least 4 years after the tax is due or paid (whichever is later).