How To Make Sure 2004 Is A Happy New (Tax) Year
Sorry to crash your party, but as we bring in the New Year, it’s also time to bring in a New Tax Season.
As a small business owner or self-employed person, one of the easiest ways to keep Uncle Sam off your back and out of your life is to file your forms, payments and other paperwork on time.
Over the next four months there are several key dates that you dare not forget! Here they are — all in one place, along with links to the IRS website PDF file for that particular form, where appropriate.
NOTE: This article only addresses federal tax deadlines. Be sure to contact your state’s tax department for their due dates.
Thursday, Jan. 15
Personal If you’re pay quarterly estimated income tax payments, it’s time to make the fourth-quarter payment for 2003 via Form 1040-ES. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1040e03.pdf
Business If you have employees, you must make the federal payroll tax payment for December 2003 by today (assuming you are on the monthly deposit schedule).
You use Form 8109 (found in the little yellow coupon book) or the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).
Monday, Feb. 2
Normally, 4th quarter and year-end payroll tax returns are due by January 31 of the following year. In 2004, since January 31 falls on a Saturday, the due date is extended until the next business day — Feb. 2.
Here’s an overview of the 4 most common federal payroll-related forms due today:
1. Form W-2 (for your employees) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw2_03.pdf
If you mail the W-2’s, the postmark must be on or before Feb 2, 2004.
You may also be a recipient of a W-2 (if you work as an employee for someone else), so don’t give your employer a hard time unless the W-2 is postmarked, or delivered in person, later than Feb. 2.
2. Form 941 (for payroll tax) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f941_a.pdf
3. Form 940 (for unemployment tax) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f940.pdf
4. Form 1099-MISC If you paid any independent contractors at least $600 in 2003, you must send each one a 1099 by Feb. 2. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1099m03.pdf
Tip: if the independent contractor is a corporation, you usually don’t have to issue a 1099. The main purpose of the 1099 is to track payments to Sole Proprietors, i.e. unincorporated self-employed people.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 If you have employees, you must make the federal payroll tax payment for January 2004 by today (assuming you are on the monthly deposit schedule).
This is another example of the automatic due date extension rule: if a federal due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day. (Feb. 15 is a Sunday and Feb. 16 is a holiday.)
Monday, March 1 If you prepared any W-2’s or 1099’s (mentioned above), today is the deadline for sending a copy of those forms to the IRS.
Form W-3 is sent to the IRS, along with Copy A of any Forms W-2 you issued. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw3_03.pdf
Form 1096 is sent to the IRS, along with Copy A of any Forms 1099-MISC you issued. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1096_03.pdf
Monday, March 15 Today is a big day if your business is a corporation.
Form 1120 — the annual corporate income tax return for regular “C” corporations. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1120.pdf
Form 1120S — the annual corporate income tax return for “S” corporations. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1120s.pdf
Form 7004 — if you can’t file Form 1120 or 1120S by today, here’s a tip: just file Form 7004 by March 15 and you are granted an automatic, no-questions-asked 6-month extension of time to file the return (i.e. until Sept. 15, 2004) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f7004.pdf
Form 2553 — if you want your corporation to be treated like an “S” corporation for the first time, today is the deadline for telling the IRS that you want to be an “S” corp beginning with calendar year 2004. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f2553.pdf
Also, If you have employees, you must make the federal payroll tax payment for February 2004 by today (assuming you are on the monthly deposit schedule).
Thursday, April 15 Ah, yes, the most famous tax deadline of all.
And if you are a Sole Proprietor, don’t forget that you must file several business-related tax forms with your Form 1040. The most commonly used tax forms for the self-employed person include:
Schedule C (to report your business income and expenses) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1040sc.pdf
Schedule SE (for self-employment tax) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1040sse.pdf
Form 4562 (to deduct equipment and other depreciable property) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f4562.pdf
Form 8829 (to deduct a home office) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f8829.pdf
Need more time to prepare your personal tax return? Go no further than Form 4868, which grants an automatic no-questions-asked 4-month extension to file the return. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f4868.pdf
NOTE: this is only an extension of time to file the return, not an extension to pay any tax due. So if you think you might owe, it may be wise to estimate what you owe and send in a payment with Form 4868; otherwise you may have to pay extra in late payment penalties and interest.
Form 1065 If your business is a Partnership or Limited Liability Company (LLC), today is also your lucky day to file the annual business income tax return — via Form 1065. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1065.pdf
Form 8736 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f8736.pdf To get an automatic 3-month extension of time to file Form 1065, file Form 8736 on or before April 15.
As if April 15 wasn’t already painful enough, it’s also the deadline for the first quarter estimated tax payment for Year 2004:
Personal — Form 1040-ES. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf
Corporate — Form 1120-W http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f1120w.pdf
And if you’re an employer, yup, it’s time for yet another monthly federal payroll tax deposit — for March 2004.
Friday, April 30 Form 941 is due for the 1st quarter 2004. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-fill/f941_a.pdf
Form 940 federal unemployment tax deposit is due today, if your first quarter liability exceeds $100.
Had enough? OK, OK. I’ll stop here.
That should get you through the first four months of the year.
For more tax resources, here’s a few more links:
Looking for a federal tax form? http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html
Looking for a state tax form? http://taxes.yahoo.com/stateforms.html
IRS Website for Small Business & the Self-Employed http://www.irs.gov/businesses/topic/index.html
Tax calendar for the entire Year 2004 http://www.taxmama.com/taxcalendar.html
Wayne M. Davies is author of 3 tax-slashing
eBooks for small business owners and the self-employed. For a
free copy of Wayne’s 25-page report, “How To Instantly Double
Your Deductions” visit http://www.YouSaveOnTaxes.com