Tax tips to get your new business off to the right start

Sep 16, 2019

This article was first published by the IRS and has been reproduced with permission. Subscribe to IRS tax tips here.

Starting a business can be very rewarding. It can also be a little overwhelming. From business plans to market strategies, and tax responsibilities, there are many things to consider. Here’s what new business owners can do to help get off to a good start.

Choose a business structure

The form of business determines which income tax return a business taxpayer needs to file. The most common business structures are:

  • Sole proprietorship: An unincorporated business owned by an individual. There’s no distinction between the taxpayer and their business.
  • Partnership: An unincorporated business with ownership shared between two or more people.
  • Corporation: Also known as a C corporation. It’s a separate entity owned by shareholders.
  • S Corporation: A corporation that elects to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to the shareholders.
  • Limited Liability Company: A business structure allowed by state statute.

Choose a tax year

A tax year is an annual accounting period for keeping records and reporting income and expenses. A new business owner must choose either:

  • Calendar year: 12 consecutive months beginning January 1 and ending December 31.
  • Fiscal year: 12 consecutive months ending on the last day of any month except December.

Apply for an employer identification number

An EIN is also called a federal tax identification number. It’s used to identify a business. Most businesses need an EIN.

Have all employees complete these forms

  • Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
  • Pay business taxes. The form of business determines what taxes must be paid and how to pay them.

Taxpayers interested in starting a business can find information for some industries on the Industries/Professions Tax Centers webpage. Each state has additional requirements for starting and operating a business. Prospective business owners should visit their state's website for info about state requirements.


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