/Tag:taxes

What Every Small Business Should Know About 1099s

Every year when tax time rolls around, I field questions from business owners about whether or not they need to send 1099s to their vendors. As common as 1099 forms are, they remain one of the most misunderstood Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements.

To make sure you understand the circumstances under which the IRS requires issuing 1099-MISC forms to vendors, I’m going to provide some basic “must-know” information here.

What Is A Form 1099-MISC?

You must issue an IRS Form 1099-MISC to each person you’ve paid $600 or more in services (including parts and materials), prizes and awards, rents or other income payments. The 1099-MISC only applies to payments you made in doing business; it does not apply to payments made for personal purposes.

To Whom Do You Need To Send A Form 1099-MISC?

If your business paid more than $600 to a vendor or sub-contractor [individual, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Limited Partnership (LP), or estate], you are required to send a Form 1099-MISC to document what you paid them throughout the year. In general, anyone who worked for you—other than your employees—will need a 1099 from you.

Also, unless an exception applies to them, you need to issue a 1099 to your landlord if you are paying rent for business purposes. You must also issue a 1099-MISC to your attorney if you paid for legal services that amounted to more than $600 during the year.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are. The list is rather long, but most commonly these types of vendors do not get 1099-MISC forms:

Also, you don’t have to send 1099-MISC forms to vendors to whom you made your payments via a credit card, debit card, gift card, or a payment network like PayPal. The onus to report vendor compensation is on those payment companies.

How Do You Figure Out If A Vendor Needs A 1099 From You?

I recommend before you request vendors to do any work for you, ask them for a completed W-9 form. The W-9 will give you all the information you need for filing taxes. It supplies a vendor’s mailing information, Tax ID numbers, and business structure (so you’ll know if the vendor is incorporated or not and does or does not need a 1099).

When Is the Deadline To Send 1099s?

By January 31, 2017, you must do two things to comply with your 2016 tax year 1099 obligations:

  • Submit Form 1099 to each vendor (reflecting what you paid that vendor in 2016).
  • Submit a copy of the Forms 1099 you sent to each vendor, along with a Form 1096 that discloses in total what you paid to all vendors who received 1099s from you.

Make sure you check on your state’s rules, too. Some states require they also receive your 1099s.

What Happens If You Miss The Deadline? 

Sending the required 1099-MISC forms late (or not at all) could cost you. The penalties vary depending on how far past the deadline you wait to issue the forms. If your business had gross receipts of $5 million or less, the amount you’re smacked with could range anywhere $50 to $260 per form (for tax years 2016 and 2017). If you’re caught intentionally not providing a payee with a correct statement for tax year 2016, you could face a fine of $520 for each form not submitted (that amount will increase to $530 for tax year 2017).

Where Can You Get 1099 Forms?

Unfortunately, you cannot download 1099 Forms from the IRS website. You can, however, order them from the IRS site and have them mailed to you, or you can pick them up at an IRS service center, post office, or another location that supplies them.

Eliminate Headaches—Do It Right From The Start!

Whether you’re in the early stages of launching a startup or already running a small business, I recommend you talk with a tax professional who can share more details about 1099s and the other aspects of filing your tax returns.

Starting a business or ready to change your current business structure? Contact us about making the registration process hassle-free and as fast as possible. We’re here to handle all of your legal document filing needs!

Filing an LLC – FAQ

We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series! This month, our CEO Nellie Akalp is answering questions about one of the hottest entity types for small businesses – the LLC. What are the requirements of filing an LLC? What are the benefits? Read on to find out!

Q: What are the benefits of forming an LLC?

A: In an LLC, the owner’s personal assets are shielded from business liabilities just as they would be in a corporation. In addition, the IRS views the LLC as a “disregarded entity.” Thus, an LLC does not file separate taxes; company profits and losses flow through to the owners and are subject to each owner’s individual tax rates. The LLC is great for a business that wants liability protection, but seeks minimal formality. It’s also the perfect structure for a business with foreign owners since anyone (C Corp, S Corp, another LLC, a trust, or an estate) can be an owner of an LLC.

Q: Do I need to prepare an Operating Agreement to form an LLC?

A: You’re not required to create an operating agreement in order to form an LLC, but in many states you will be required to keep an operating agreement at your place of business to maintain your corporate compliance. And even if your state does not require a formal operating agreement, it can be an important document to help clarify verbal agreements between owners and prevent misunderstandings.

Q: What is an Operating Agreement?

A: The Operating Agreement is an official contract that spells out the management and ownership of the LLC. It can outline details like how much of the company each member owns, everyone’s voting rights; how profits and losses should be distributed among the members; and what happens when someone wants to leave the business.

Q: Do I need to submit my LLC’s Operating Agreement?

A: You’re not required to submit a formal operating agreement to the state or any other entity. But, most states do require that an LLC has an operating agreement in place and kept at their place of business.

Q: Are there any differences between how an LLC and S Corporation are taxed?

A: Both the LLC and S Corporation can be taxed on a pass-through basis; taxes aren’t paid on the entity level, but at the individual owner level. Profits and losses are passed through and reported on the individual’s tax return. While both LLCs and S Corporations are pass-through entities, there are a few differences.

One difference is that the income of an LLC flows to the members involved with the business and is subject to self-employment tax. With an S Corporation, only salaries are subject to self-employment tax; any distributions that are paid out to members are not subject to self-employment tax.

Another key difference is that the LLC offers a lot more flexibility in terms of how owners can be taxed. With the S Corporation, owners must be taxed based on their pro rata ownership interests; if you own 50% of the business, then you’re taxed on 50% of the company’s profits. With an LLC, owners can determine their allocations for the year and be taxed accordingly.

Q: Can one person form an LLC?

A: Yes, all states allow one member LLCs.

Q: Does an LLC have stockholders?

A: No. LLCs are not permitted to issue stock in any state. Only corporations (C- or S-Corporations) can issue stock.

Q: How is an LLC structured?

A: LLCs have members – these are the owners of the LLC and are similar to stockholders in a corporation. Members typically receive an ownership stake in the LLC commensurate with their investment (either financial investment or ‘sweat equity’). In addition, members choose a manager to manage the LLC – this position is similar to a director of a corporation. A manager can be a member or could be someone from outside the LLC.

Q: Does an LLC need to hold an annual meeting?

A: No state requires an LLC to hold an annual meeting. This is one of the benefits of the LLC – it has fewer formalities than a corporation. However, if your LLC’s operating agreement requires an annual meeting (or other meetings), then you’ll need to hold such meetings in order to stay compliant. Many owners choose to make meetings optional in the operating agreement.

Q: What’s the difference between an LLC and PLLC?

A: In many states, licensed professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, architects, and accountants, aren’t allowed to form LLCs. Instead, these professionals can form a PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company). One of the key differences between an LLC and PLLC is that members of the PLLC must be licensed professionals, and you’ll need to show proof of a valid license to register the PLLC. In most cases, members of a PLLC are personally liable for their own malpractice claims, but aren’t personally liable for another professional’s malpractice claims.

Do you need help registering an LLC or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

How to Handle Payroll for Your First Employee

Business is booming, and it’s time to hire your first employee. Finding great talent, hiring someone, and making sure that all of your new hire paperwork is in order is often a steep learning curve for entrepreneurs. Fortunately, once you go through the on-boarding process with one employee, you’ll be ready to handle many more as your company grows.

Do You Really Need to Hire an Employee?

First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you truly need to hire a full-time or part-time employee or whether contract labor or a freelancer can do the job.

Understanding the difference between the two main categories of employees versus independent contractors is critical, since mistakes can lead to hefty IRS penalties for not paying the appropriate employment taxes. An independent contractor has more autonomy in how they work, where they work, and how they complete each task, while an employee works directly under your supervision on set tasks, at the time and place of your choosing.

You cannot keep someone as an independent contractor status and treat them like an employee. The IRS takes a dim view of this approach since some companies use it to avoid paying unemployment taxes and other benefits. You must also be quite clear about job hours, since there are different insurance and tax requirements for part-time versus full-time employees.

Consider how you’ll track employee hours. If it’s just one employee, it may be easy to note when they arrive at work and when they leave. If you plan to expand your workforce, a computerized tracking system may needed to accurately track hours for benefits and payroll.

Once you’ve settled upon hiring an employee, create a job description for the position. Include roles, responsibilities, requirements for the job, and a list of tasks associated with the job itself. This will guide your hiring process and help wanted ad, too, so it’s an important task.

Finding Great Help

You can hire locally through newspaper or online classified ads. You can also place ads on job boards such as Indeed, Monster, and other sites. Base your job posting on the description. Receive resumes, review them, and interview the three most promising candidates.

Congratulations! You’ve found your candidate and extended a job offer. If they accept, it’s time to begin the hiring process, step by step.

The Hiring Process, from Start to Finish

There are certain legal and tax rules you must follow when you hire a new employee.

  1. Obtain an EIN: An EIN, or employer identification number, is a number used on many legal and tax documents. You apply for an EIN on the IRS website
  2. Register with your state’s labor department: You must register with your state’s labor department to pay the appropriate unemployment compensation taxes.
  3. Purchase Worker’s Compensation insurance: States require employers to carry Worker’s Compensation insurance to cover their employees in the event of an accident or injury on the job. Each state sets its own policies regarding Worker’s Compensation insurance, so check with your state’s labor department for the rules for your state.
  4. Set up your payroll system: You can set up your own payroll system or work with online payroll software to handle weekly payroll filing needs.
  5. Complete forms: Each employee should fill out a W-4 form, the withholding allowance form, and an I-9 form with verification of eligibility for employment. Photocopy proof of eligibility, such as driver’s licenses, etc., and return the originals to your employee.
  6. Report the employee: You must report employees to the state’s hiring agency. The state then checks against records of people who owe for child support.
  7. File IRS Form 940: You’ll need to complete IRS form 940 each year to report federal unemployment tax.
  8. Set up personnel files: Setup files for your new employees that includes copies of their resume or job application, employment verification, IRS forms, and emergency contact information.
  9. Sign up for benefits: If your company offers benefits, review them with your employee and ask them to enroll.
  10. Finish the process: Create an employee manual and hang up required “Employee’s Rights” posters. Follow all OSHA workplace safety regulations. Get your new employee the tools they need to do their job – a desk, computer, cash register, car or whatever else you need. Then welcome them aboard!

Other Considerations

Depending on your business needs, you may need to include in your hiring process an NDA. NDA stands for “Non Disclosure Agreement”. It is a legally binding contract that prevents employees from sharing trade secrets with anyone else. This protects your business if you have any important information that you don’t want getting out into the public.

Setting Up a Corporation – FAQ

Happy November! We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series!

When starting a business, one of the first questions an entrepreneur must ask themselves is, “What entity type should I register?” Here at CorpNet, we are often asked to explain the differences between a C Corporation and an S Corporation, how to file a corporation, and even, “What is a corporation?” In this month’s FAQ post, our CEO Nellie Akalp answers all your burning questions about corporations!

Q: What is a C Corporation

A: A C Corporation is a standard corporation. It is considered a separate entity from its owners. This means that the corporation is responsible for any of its debts and liabilities. This is often called the “corporate shield” as it protects the owner’s personal assets from debts and liabilities of the business.

A corporation has a formal structure consisting of shareholders, directors, officers and employees. Every corporation must select at least one person to serve on its board of directors and officers are required to manage the day-to-day activities of the company.

As a separate business entity, a corporation files its own tax returns. As a C corporation owner, you’ll need to file both a personal tax return and a business tax return. In some cases, this can result in a “double taxation” burden for small business owners (see the question on double taxation below for more details).

Q: How do I create a C Corporation? 

A: To create a C Corporation, you’ll need to file the proper formation documents, typically called the Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Incorporation, with your state’s secretary of state agency. You will also need to pay the necessary state filing fees. If you incorporate with CorpNet, you simply need to complete the online order form (or give us a call!). We’ll prepare the necessary paperwork and file it with the state.

Q: Who can form a C Corporation? 

A: There really aren’t any restrictions on who can form a C Corporation. Some states do require that the directors of a corporation are 18 and older, but there aren’t any age, residency, or other legal requirements for who can form a C Corporation. Keep in mind that the IRS places several restrictions on who can elect S Corporation status.

Q: What organizational roles are required in a C Corporation?

A: C Corporations have three groups: shareholders, directors, and officers. Shareholders own the C Corporation (via their shares of stock), yet the shareholders typically don’t manage the company. Shareholders do elect and remove directors, and can vote on major corporate issues.

The board of directors manages the affairs of the C Corporation, and can appoint and oversee officers. It’s the officers who are responsible for the day to day management of the corporation.

It’s possible to be a shareholder, director, and officer. In fact, in most states, you can be the sole shareholder, director, and officer for your C Corporation.

Q: What’s the minimum number of directors required for my C Corporation?

A: Most states allow just one director for a C Corporation, but you can have more. In some states, the minimum number of directors depends on the number of shareholders.

Q: What is double taxation?

A: Income earned by a C corporation is typically taxed at corporate income tax rates. Then, after the corporate income tax is paid, any distributions made to stockholders are taxed again as dividends on the stockholders’ personal tax returns. This is often called “double taxation” since corporate profits are first taxed on the corporation and then dividends are reported on the individual stockholder’s return.

Q: What is the difference between a C Corporation and S Corporation?

A: C Corporations are subject to double taxation as described above. A C Corporation entity is required to pay tax at the corporate level. An S Corporation is considered a pass-through entity for tax purposes. This means that the company’s profits and loss are passed through to the individual shareholder’s tax return (and each shareholder is typically taxed on the company’s profits based on their share of stock ownership).

Q: What are the benefits to forming a C Corporation compared with an S Corporation?

A: A C Corporation can offer greater tax flexibility. In addition, if you’ll be keeping the profits within company (as opposed to distributing dividends to shareholders), then the C Corporation can shield shareholders from direct tax liability.

Q: Can I form a Corporation with just one person?

A: Yes. A Corporation can have just one shareholder. Keep in mind that even if you’re the sole shareholder, you will still need to comply with corporate formalities such as director and shareholder meetings, and keeping meeting minutes.

Q: If I have multiple businesses, what’s the best way to legally structure them?

A: There are three different ways to structure multiple businesses. There are advantages and disadvantages for each approach – and the best structure will depend on your personal situation.

  • You can file an LLC or corporation for each of your businesses. This approach isolates the risk to each individual business, but involves maintenance fees and paperwork for each of the LLCs/corporations.
  • You can file one LLC or corporation, and then set up multiple DBAs (Doing Business As) for each of the other businesses. With this approach, you just need to pay your annual LLC/corporation maintenance fees for the LLC/corporation (and not each individual DBA). However, each DBA isn’t protected from the other DBAs. So if one DBA is sued, all the other DBAs under the main LLC/corporation are liable.
  • In the third approach, you can create individual Corporations/LLCs for each of your businesses and put them under one main holding Corporation/LLC.

Q: What is your Express Filing Service?

A: It’s a way to reduce your formation filing timeframe and get your corporation set up faster – sometimes as fast as 24 hours or even the same day! To understand the express filing timeline, it’s important to understand there are two different processing times: CorpNet and the state.

With the Express Filing Service, we’ll process your documents the same day (if submitted, Monday through Friday, before 4 pm PST). Depending on your state, we’ll hand deliver, fax, or send your documents via courier – whatever your particular state/county allows as the fastest option.

Then, the state office is instructed to process your filing as an expedited filing. State processing time estimates vary by state, and not all states support expedited filings. When you fill out your incorporation package online, you will see if the expedited service is available in your state and what the state’s estimated processing times are.

Do you need help registering a corporation or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

                               

Which Candidate Will Be The Best President For Small Business?

Quite the question, right? But relax, I’m not here to get on a political soapbox and tell you who to vote for. Rather, I’m encouraging you to think about what’s important to you as a business owner and as an individual.

I’ve observed that Republicans typically tend to push for less regulation and encourage more business boosting initiatives than politicians in the Democratic Party. And the Democrats tend to push for initiatives that are in the interest of the middle class, the class that includes most small business owners. Of course, what candidates say they’re going to do and what actually happens don’t always match. Good intentions don’t always come to fruition because there are many obstacles that stand in the way of execution. Sometimes plans that sound too good to be true end up being just that after more research into their feasibility is done. And sometimes, sadly, candidates simply don’t follow through on their promises.

If you review each candidate’s website, you’ll see what their intentions are for small businesses. Below, I’ve listed what stands out to me:

Trump’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Putting a stop to overregulation that makes it difficult to start and run a business.
• Lowering the business tax rate from 35% to 15%.
• Renegotiating trade agreements so American companies have a fair shake when pursuing doing business with other American companies.
• Increasing the production of American energy onshore and offshore (which potentially—eventually—would cut energy and transportation costs for all Americans, including small businesses).

Clinton’s Pro Small Business Initiatives:
• Stimulating small business lending by easing burdens for community banks and credit unions.
• Allowing entrepreneurs to defer student-loan payments with no interest while they start their businesses.
• Offering incentives to state and local governments to cut the red tape involved in starting a new business.
• Simplifying the tax filing process and creating a standard income tax deduction for small businesses.
• Cracking down on big businesses that don’t pay or late pay small businesses.

Devil Is In The Details
Clinton’s website goes into more detail about her proposals than does Trump’s, giving us some peace of mind that she has thought things through. But could her position on some other key hot button issues (like health care and raising the minimum wage) hurt small businesses in the long run. As for Trump, will what he proposes benefit the smallest of businesses or only large corporations?

According to the weekly reader poll, SmartPulse, in SmartBrief on Leadership, 69 percent of business leaders believe this year’s elections will either tremendously or moderately affect their businesses.

It’s clear the business community is tuned into and watching this presidential election closely.

Whether you’re starting a business or running an existing one, you should be, too. Think about what you want for the future of your business and your family—and vote on November 8 for the candidate you believe will work to fulfill your vision.

Photo: Adobe Stock

                               

5 Types of Insurance Every Small Business Needs

Ready to take your small business to new heights? As a small business owner, you’ll need every advantage you can find in today’s highly competitive, global business landscape.

Becoming the next startup like Uber or Airbnb that now are valued at $1 billion or more by venture capital firms worldwide remains an uphill climb. As such, small business owners may devote substantial time and resources to grow their companies, yet many of them will fall short of achieving their long-term business goals.

Attention to detail is what separates an average small business operator from an extraordinary one. With the right types of insurance in place, small business operators can protect their assets as they grow their companies.

Here are the types of insurance you may need to achieve your business goals:

1. General Liability

General liability insurance offers broad protection for small businesses. It ensures they are covered against a variety of risks, including:

• Bodily injury
• Property damage
• Personal injury

The costs associated with general liability coverage often vary based on risk. Thus, if you work as a roofing contractor, you may be forced to pay more for general liability insurance than a food truck operator. Or, if you run your business out of a home office, your general liability insurance expenses will likely be minimal.

Regardless of your business type, general liability insurance can make a world of difference for small businesses across all industries. This insurance guarantees that even if your company makes a mistake along the way, you’ll be protected. You’ll be better equipped to maintain your business’ day-to-day operations and focus on what’s important—growing your company.

2. Property

Like general liability coverage, property insurance protects the future of your business by safeguarding your office equipment, inventory and even others’ property.

Furthermore, property insurance protects your company in the event that a major disaster damages or destroys your workspace. This means that even though a fire, busted water pipe or major storm could devastate your business assets, you’ll be covered until your company can return to its regular operations.

3. Auto

If you operate a vehicle to deliver flowers, carry equipment to and from work sites or use a car or truck to perform various everyday work tasks, you’ll want to purchase business auto insurance.

In many cases, a small business operator may own a car and use a personal vehicle as part of his or her business operations. Your personal auto policy in some cases may not cover you if you suffer an accident in a car that you use primarily for business, therefore it is important to discuss with an agent to determine if you need a business auto policy to protect you against certain risks as you travel from place to place. If you purchase the right business auto insurance and set appropriate coverage limits, you’ll be protected whenever you use your vehicle for work.

4. Professional Liability

Don’t let a single professional error bring down your business. Instead, purchase professional liability coverage, and you’ll be able to protect your company against accidental errors and omissions.

Let’s face it—even a diligent small business owner will occasionally make a mistake. From an accountant who processes a client’s tax return incorrectly to a hair stylist who damages a bride-to-be’s hair before a wedding, accidents can happen at any time, and these problems can become major issues quickly if you’re not careful.

Fortunately, professional liability insurance will enable you to cover the costs associated with damage or other problems due to a professional mistake. This coverage may prove to be exceedingly valuable for startups, and ultimately, it may even help a small business operator become more comfortable performing day-to-day tasks. Professional liability insurance can allow small business owners to work more confidently and efficiently without having to worry about how a single professional error could potentially harm his or her business.

5. Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation coverage is a requirement for businesses in every state except Texas. It provides a small business owner and his or her employees with protection in the event that an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness.

In addition, workers’ compensation coverage provides small business operators with a great opportunity to build goodwill with employees. If an employee suffers an injury or illness and is unable to return to work, he or she will receive sufficient compensation thanks to this coverage.

Small business owners are all too familiar with risk. With the aforementioned types of insurance at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to manage business risks both now and in the future.

ryan-hanley

About Ryan

Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, “Content Warfare.” Ryan has over 12 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.

 

By | October 13th, 2016|Business Operations, Running A Small Business, Startups|3 Comments

Back to Basics: LLC or Corporation? Which Is The Better Choice For Your Business?

Both forming an LLC and incorporating your business safeguard you by protecting your personal assets if legal action is taken against your business. They also give your business a boost of credibility by having either “LLC” or “Inc.” behind your company name. But there are differences that could make one or the other the better choice for you.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing the pros and cons of the legal structures available to you before you decide which will serve your business most effectively.

 
The Low-down On LLCs

Many owner-managed businesses opt to form as LLCs.

LLC owners are referred to as “members,” who each own a certain percentage of the business. Single-member LLCs are uncomplicated from a compliance and management standpoint. When you have multiple members, however, you should have an operating agreement that documents who can make decisions and how transferring membership interests should happen if a member leaves, dies, or files bankruptcy. Some states require that the remaining members dissolve the LLC under the circumstance of a member’s leaving, death, or bankruptcy.

From a tax standpoint, you can choose to have your LLC treated in one of two ways.

  • As a pass-through entity, with the profits and losses of your business passed to your LLC members’ personal tax returns. If your business isn’t profitable, that will lower your personal tax obl
  • As an S Corporation, whereby only salaries and wages are subject to self-employment taxes (FICA and Medicare), not company profits taken as distributions to members.

Because there are notably less formation paperwork and compliance requirements with an LLC than there are with a corporation, business owners who want legal protection and tax flexibility without a lot of complexity find the LLC structure an attractive option.

One potential disadvantage of forming an LLC, however, is that you cannot sell stock to raise capital for your business. And if you seek funding from venture capitalists, you may get turned down because many will only invest in corporations.

 
Insight About Incorporating

Whether S Corporation or C Corporation, the owners of corporations are called shareholders. Their percentage of ownership corresponds to their percentage of shares in the business. Unlike with an LLC, it’s typically simple to transfer shares (ownership) from one person to another. That means the business can continue onward when shareholders leave, die, or sell their shares.

S Corporation

With an S Corporation, a business’s income, losses, and deductions pass through to its shareholders. Typically, the shareholders report corporate income on their personal income tax returns.

Unlike LLCs and C Corporations, S Corporations are limited to 100 members/shareholders. So while they can sell stock, their potential to raise capital in that way is somewhat limited.

While S Corporations require more paperwork and ongoing compliance than LLCs, they don’t come with as much formality as C Corporations.

C Corporation

Tax treatment of C Corporations involves what is often called “double taxation.” A C Corp pays corporate income tax on its profits, and then its shareholders pay personal income tax on the profits they receive as dividends.

C Corporations don’t have a limit on the number of shareholders that can invest in them, and they may be more attractive to outside investors.

Because C Corporations operate as separate legal entities from their owners, they provide more personal liability protection than other business structures.

Note that potential drawbacks to incorporating as a C Corporation are the higher formation costs, extra compliance requirements, and additional oversight they are subject to.

 
Do Your Due Diligence, Then Decide.

With both legal and financial aspects of your business affected by your choice of legal structure, make sure you carefully evaluate your options. I encourage you to seek professional expertise and guidance, so you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of each structure.

In the meantime, you can get off to a great start by using the CorpNet Business Structure Wizard for gaining a better idea of the structure that might work best for you.

                               

Ready For Estimated Tax Payments?

When starting a business, you need to do quite a bit of heavy lifting. Of course, a big part of this is handling the complexities of the US tax system. In fact, one particular area that often trips up entrepreneurs is something called estimated tax payments.

The main reason is that this is quite different from when you have a job. You see, a self-employed person needs to essentially do what an employer does – that is, make ongoing payments to the IRS.

This often comes as a complete surprise to first-time entrepreneurs. After all, when April 15th rolls around, they usually get stuck with fees from the IRS for interest and penalties. But even worse, the overall tax bill can be hefty. As a result, you may have no choice but to take steps to resolve this, such as with an installment agreement (hey, the early days of a startup can be very lean).

So what do you need to know about estimated taxes? First of all, they include not only federal income tax but also the amounts for Social Security and Medicare. You’ll also need to make equal payments according to the following schedule:

April 15 (first quarter)
June 15 (second quarter)
September 15 (third quarter)
January 15 (fourth quarter)

Note: You may also have to pay estimated taxes for the state you are based in and the deadlines could be different (as is the case with California).

OK, there are some exceptions to being required to make estimated tax payments. They include:
• You expect to owe less than $1,000 for the year (whether as an individual, sole proprietor, member of an LLC or S-Corporation)
• You did not have to pay any taxes during the prior year
• You have a corporation where you expect to owe less than $500 for the year
• You are in an area that has suffered a natural disaster

Now, if you do not meet the above, you will need to follow either of these:
• You pay 100% of the tax you paid for last year (the percentage is 110% if your adjusted income is $150,000 or $75,000 if you are married and file separately) or
• You pay 90% of what you will ultimately owe for the current tax year.

And if you have a corporation, the requirement is that you pay the lesser of
• 100% of the tax you paid for the last year or
• 100% of what you will ultimately owe for the current year.

But as should be no surprise, coming up with the amounts can be tricky. In fact, you may ultimately pay way too much, which essentially means you are loaning money to the IRS! Because of this, you may want to use software like TurboTax or get the assistance of a tax professional.

And once you come up with the amount, the process of making the payment is straightforward. You can either file Form 1040-ES or Form 1120-W (for a corporation). But the easiest approach is to use the IRS’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

The good news is that – once you get things setup – the process of handling estimated taxes should be smooth. But of course, the important thing is to make sure you make it a habit.

                               

By | September 20th, 2016|Business Filings, Running A Small Business, Taxes|1 Comment

Running Your Business: Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

With school back in session, students of all ages are learning new things—and discovering how much they don’t know in the process. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or long-time business owner, one thing is certain: like the kids who are back to school, you always have room to learn and grow.

As I’ve learned and grown as a business owner, one of my favorite phrases has become, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” How true, right? It’s far too easy to fool ourselves into thinking we really know all there is to know. But the truth is we will never ever know everything when it comes to starting and running a business, because things change all the time. We have to “school” ourselves. That means doing additional research and staying tuned in to new developments. The business climate, legal requirements, and technology constantly morph, sometimes subtly and sometimes significantly. If we don’t keep up with the various moving parts that affect us, our businesses could fall behind—or worse.

So I urge you to stay attentive and continue to learn about what’s new or what has changed with respect to:

  • Business structures, liability protection and filing requirements– for example, potential benefits of changing from a sole proprietorship or partnership to Corporation, an S-Corporation or a Limited Liability Company.
  • Tax laws and filing requirements – such as changes to the business tax rates, mileage reimbursement rates, valid tax deductions, filing deadlines etc.)
  • Corporate compliance requirements – such as annual reports, tax deadlines, permit and license filing due dates, etc.
  • Marketing tools, best practices, and regulations – like new social media platforms and automation tools, SEO, content marketing, the CAN-SPAM Act, etc.
  • HR issues – including employee benefits, hiring, firing, affirmative action, documentation requirements, etc.
  • Business technology – like cloud-based accounting software, CRMs (customer relationship management systems), virus and malware protection, mobile payment platforms, etc.

This is just the short list! Basically, anything related to entrepreneurship demands ongoing learning, because owning a business isn’t a static condition but rather a dynamic process. So as the kids strap on their backpacks this school season, prepare to gear up for your own journey in learning. Trust me, your homework will pay off!

Looking to start your own business? Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know—and we can help fix that. Download our free Starting A Business Checklist now! It’s a sure way to learn about what you need to do to get a successful business off the ground.

                               

Why You Need to Incorporate Your Business

When you think about incorporating your business, do you scoff, “Not me. I’m just a one-person/home-based/part-time business—incorporation is for the big guys”? If so, it’s time to rethink your attitude. You see, every small business—no matter how small or informal—needs to be incorporated.

That’s because no matter how small or informal your business is, you could be sued. Suppose your business isn’t doing well, you can’t pay a business debt and the creditor takes you to court to get their money back. Perhaps you are a children’s party planner, a child is injured during a birthday party you organize at a local park, and the parents decide to sue you. Or maybe you own a one-person accounting firm and, after you make a mistake on a client’s taxes that costs them a lot of money, they sue you for the damages.

In any of these cases, unless your business is incorporated, all of your personal assets could be at risk—including your savings, possessions and even your family home. And even if the lawsuit is baseless, you still have the legal costs involved in defending yourself in court.

If you haven’t done anything to determine a legal form for your business, and you are the only person in your business, by default you’re considered a sole proprietor. Even if you have a partner and the two of you have formed a general partnership, your personal assets still are not protected.

Why does incorporating provide so much protection? When you incorporate your business, you are creating a new legal entity that’s separate from its owners. If your corporation owes a debt or if it is sued, the business—not you personally—is liable.

Incorporating has several other advantages:
• It makes it easier to separate your business and personal finances, which has tax advantages.
• It helps you establish a credit score for your business so you don’t have to rely on your personal credit score.
• If you think you might ever need to get a business loan or look for investors to help finance your business, being incorporated will help there, too.
• Being able to put “Inc.” or “LLC” after your business name just looks more professional, which can make customers and clients feel more confident doing business with you.

There are several different forms your business can take when incorporating: a C corporation, an S corporation, or an LLC (limited liability company). Here’s a quick overview of the differences:
• C corporation: A C corporation pays federal income taxes. However, any dividends paid to the owner (or other shareholders) are also taxed. This is sometimes called “double taxation,” and the S corporation form was created to help avoid it.
• S corporation: An S corporation doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Any income or financial losses pass through to the owner and get reported on his or her personal tax returns.
• LLC: Limited Liability Companies have a more flexible management structure than C or S corporations, while still protecting your personal assets. Any profits or losses from the business will be reported on your personal tax return.

There are some costs associated with incorporation, as well as some paperwork you’ll need to complete every year. However, when you consider the risk to your personal finances that could arise from not incorporating, the cost is well worth it.

Find out more about corporation business structures.

To take advantage of all these perks, incorporate your business with CorpNet today! Call us for a