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Essential tax forms for business owners

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A tax extension gives you more time to file your tax return, but you still need to estimate the tax due and make a payment by the original deadline.

Forms for starting or opening a new business

Maybe you've already handled this step. But if you haven't applied for a tax identification number for your business, here's the form you'll need.

  • Form SS-4:1 This is the form used to request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN is needed to open a business bank account, apply for business credit, identify your business on tax filings, and apply for business licenses and permits. Sole proprietors (those without any employees) have the option of using their Social Security number (SSN) instead of getting an EIN, but using an EIN helps keep your SSN secure2 and reduces the risk of identity theft. You can also request an EIN3 online.

Forms for reporting business income and expenses

The form you'll use for reporting profits from your business to the IRS depends on your business structure.

  • Schedule C:4 Sole proprietors and single-member LLCs (that is, LLCs with only one owner) use Schedule C to report profit or loss from a business. This form gets attached to the business owner's individual tax return, Form 1040.
  • Form 1065:5 Partnerships and multi-member LLCs use Form 1065 to report profit or loss from the business. The partnership doesn't pay federal income tax with this form. Instead, each partner or member receives a Schedule K-16 that reports their share of profits. They'll need a Schedule K-1 to report their share of the income from the business on their individual tax returns.
  • Form 1120-S:7 S Corporations (and LLCs that have elected to be taxed like an S Corp) use Form 1120-S to report the business's revenue and expenses. Each shareholder receives a Schedule K-18 reporting their share of the company's taxable income, which they'll need to complete their individual tax returns.
  • Form 1120:C Corporations (and LLCs that have elected to be taxed as a C Corp) use Form 1120 to report revenues and expenses of the business. Unlike other business structures, C Corporations pay income taxes with their return, rather than passing taxable income through to the owners' and shareholders' individual returns.

Forms for requesting an extension

If you need more time to prepare your business tax return, you can request a six-month extension.

  • Form 4868:10 This is the form used by sole proprietors and single-member LLCs to request an extension. The form must be filed by the original due date of your return, which is generally April 15 (if the 15th falls on the weekend or holiday, then the deadline is the next business day). Filing an extension will give you until October 15 to file your tax return.
  • Form 7004:11 All other business entities use Form 7004 to request an extension. Partnerships, multi-member LLCs, and S Corporations that operate on the calendar year (year-end date of December 31) must file for an extension by March 15 to request an extension to September 15. Calendar-year C Corporations with a December 31 year end have until April 15 to request an extension giving them until October 15 to file their return. If your business operates on a fiscal year (year-end date other than December 31), your deadline for filing a partnership, LLC or S Corporation extension is the 15th day of the third month after the end of your fiscal year. For fiscal-year corporations, the deadline is the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the business's fiscal year.

Forms for paying estimated taxes

Most business owners need to make quarterly estimated tax payments.

  • Form 1040-ES:12 Sole proprietors and owners of partnerships, LLCs, and S Corporations use Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay quarterly estimates of their income and self-employment taxes. Estimates are due in four equal installments on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the following year. If any of those days falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date shifts to the next business day.
  • Form 1120-W:13 C Corporations make estimated quarterly tax payments using Form 1120-W. Corporations operating on a calendar year need to make estimated payments on April 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15. For corporations operating on a fiscal year, installments are due by the 15th day of the fourth, sixth, ninth, and twelfth month14 of the tax year.

If you use tax software or work with a tax professional to prepare your return, the software can handle most of the above forms, as well as any related schedules you'll need to attach to your tax return. Whether you file electronically or by mail, be sure to keep copies of each form and schedule for your records. The IRS recommends keeping those records for three years15 from the date of filing, or seven years if your return includes losses from worthless securities or bad debt.

Important Disclosure Information

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. IRS.gov, “Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  2. National Congress of Employers, "EIN Tax Number," accessed February 11, 2020. Back
  3. IRS.gov, “Employer ID Numbers," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  4. IRS.gov, “Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  5. IRS.gov, “Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  6. IRS.gov, “Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  7. IRS.gov, “Form 1120-S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  8. IRS.gov, “Schedule K-1 (Form 1120-S)," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  9. IRS.gov, “Form 1120: U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  10. IRS.gov, “Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  11. IRS.gov, “Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  12. IRS.gov, “Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  13. IRS.gov, “Form 1120-W, Estimated Tax for Corporations," accessed February 6, 2020. Back
  14. IRS.gov, "2020 Instructions for Form 1120-W," accessed February 11, 2020. Back
  15. IRS.gov, “How long should I keep records?" accessed February 6, 2020. Back