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Do You File Business Tax Returns Quarterly or Annually?

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in Tax Matters

Have you started a small business and need to know when to file your tax returns? Perhaps you've heard about filing quarterly returns and are wondering if that requirement applies to you? Read on to get answers to these important questions.

Annual Income Tax Returns. All small businesses must file a return annually. Generally speaking, if your business has a calendar year-end, you must file one of the following business income tax forms by the due date listed below:

Sole Proprietorship - Schedule C, as part of your personal return, is due April 15. Partnership - Form 1065 is due April 15. C Corporation - Form 1120 is due March 15. S Corporation - Form 1120S is due March 15.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) get their own special explanation, for they are a unique business entity. An LLC can be taxed like any of the above-mentioned entities. However your LLC is treated for tax purposes determines the appropriate tax form and the accompanying due date.

Quarterly Tax Returns. Here there are two possibilities. First, if you are a self-employed sole proprietor who files Schedule C as part of your personal return, you may be required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments via Form 1040-ES. This is probably what you have heard about when people talk about "filing quarterly taxes".

These quarterly payments are due April 15 (first quarter), June 15 (second quarter), September 15 (third quarter) and January 15 (fourth quarter). The purpose of these payments is to comply with our federal "pay as you go" tax system. The payments are for both federal income taxes as well as self-employment taxes. Failure to make these payments can result in a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax payments, even if you pay your balance due with your return on April 15. So be sure to determine whether you must make quarterly estimated tax payments.

A second type of quarterly return you may have to file are for payroll taxes. If you have employees, you must issue paychecks and withhold taxes from those paychecks. Those payroll tax withholdings must be paid within a certain timeframe, depending on the amount. And there are also federal payroll tax returns that must be filed. The most common one is Form 941, which must be filed within one month after the end of each calendar quarter (April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31).

If you have no employees, you don't have to deal with payroll and the small mountain of paperwork that accompanies it. Many sole proprietorships and partnerships fall into that category. But if you are a corporation (or an LLC taxed as a corporation), and you are performing services for your business, you must pay yourself reasonable compensation as an employee of your business, and therefore will be required to issue yourself paychecks and file the resulting quarterly payroll tax forms.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Asif July 25, 2017 at 10:41 pm

I started S corporation back in Feb-217, I don’t have any employee yet. Just wonder either I need to file quarterly or annually. While registering firm SOS, there was only one choice to file taxes quarterly.
2ndly, for future reference, any software who can prepare tax return to file directly to IRS.


Rob May 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm

I recently applied for an LLC and EIN for a small business in PA. When I learned after applying for my EIN that for an LLC you must project quarterly earnings/taxes I gave up and decided to not go that route. I sent the IRS a letter the same day (as I learned about this the same day I received the EIN) to withdraw my EIN and notified the state I was not going through with my LLC (I did not submit my docketing statement so it was cancelled). Will I be forced to project earnings ($0) for June?


Pam July 30, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Pete Price a/k/a Lou Patten, CPA


Jeremy Barton June 26, 2016 at 12:18 am

I just received a letter telling me about my quarterly tax returns. I am a sole member under an LLC.
I received the letter after June 15th because I registered my business on the 12th of that month. Do I still have to file the tax returns for the two days in between? Or do I start filing starting the third quarter?


Shelly December 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I am going to be audited by saif corp. and wanted to know how to print all my quarterly tax reports for the past 12 months? I did them on a computer I no longer own. Can I go to a web site? help!


Cindy G February 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm

If you used a program (QB Payroll online or Intuit payroll online) online you should be able to go that website, download & print your tax forms.


Avis Rost October 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

My husband and I bought a small motel in July, 2015 and the bank put him in as a sole proprietor. However, we are 300 miles apart as my youngest is graduating HS in 2016, and we did not want to move her. Which means I take money from the business to pay for expenses I have here. Do I need to file quarterly, and if so, how would I go about doing that? We will file a joint tax return when it is time.


dilip October 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I just opened up a C corp assuming it gives me a broader perspective and will enable me to attract capital from others. Now that it is a C corp, but as I have NO EMPLOYEES at all, and NO INCOME expected for the next year (being a start up company), what forms should I file on regular basis with IRS (fed) and State of Texas?? Please help if you can. Thanks


shashi bhushan June 22, 2013 at 5:07 am

Dear Sir,

Please help details the tax return file


Pete Price October 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

I started a small business last January and I used Lou Patten CPA in Lake Worth to do my business planning. Mr. Patten assisted me with a business development plan and a financial analysis. He is really good and very affordable. I suggest you check him out. Here’s his website


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