Eight ways to keep your business tax healthy

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(ARA) — The U.S. was home to 27.5 million small businesses in 2009 according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. To succeed, many business owners take on multiple duties, from executive and operational, human resources, to marketing and information technology.

Among the more challenging responsibilities is taxes. "Thankfully, you don't have to be an accountant to be tax-savvy," says Jessi Dolmage, spokesperson for TaxACT. "Just knowing where to go for information, keeping secure records and using robust tax software helps maximize business tax savings."

* Budget for tax deadlines to avoid cash flow disruption and meet deadlines to avoid penalties. Most self-employed people should complete Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay quarterly estimated tax payments. Corporations must also pay estimated payments if they expect to owe taxes of $500 or more. Businesses with employees are subject to different forms and deadlines based on business type and revenue, - i.e. Forms 940, 941 and 944. Corporations and S-corporations must file annual 1120 and 1120S tax returns by March 15.

* Define and pay labor properly. Employees require different paperwork than independent contractors. Withhold income, Medicare and Social Security taxes from employee paychecks and pay Medicare, Social Security and unemployment taxes for them. Conversely, issue independent contractors a 1099-MISC form if payments total $600 or more in a calendar year.

* Get familiar with small business tax benefits. For 2011, the deduction for business start-up costs is worth twice as much and phases out at a higher amount. Legislation also extended the increased deduction amount, phase-out limit and definition of Section 179 property. First-year bonus depreciation was also extended. For property placed in service after Sept. 8, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2012, bonus depreciation is 100 percent. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 included a deduction for health insurance premiums when calculating self-employment tax. Self-employed individuals can deduct 100 percent of health insurance costs for themselves, their spouse and dependents. Visit irs.gov and click on "Businesses" for information about these and other business tax breaks.

* Remember tax law changes often. Stay in the know by signing up for small business e-mail updates at irs.gov.

* Do your own business and personal taxes. Software breaks down complicated tax law and guides you through your return while completing the forms. TaxACT offers low-cost software for partnerships, S-corporations and corporations. For 1040 individual returns, use TaxACT Free Federal or Deluxe Edition to file Schedule C for sole proprietorships.

* Keep financial records current. Updated records translate into timely financial statements, which make for easier tax preparation. Scan or keep original receipts for updating monthly books or returning items. They may also be helpful in the event of an Internal Revenue Service audit.

* Track deductible expenses. Whether you deduct actual vehicle expenses or use the standard mileage rate (51 cents per mile in 2011), keep detailed documentation including mileage and purpose. Detailed logs should also be kept for travel expenses and business use of your home. Documenting takes time and effort, but the deductions are worth it.

* Protect information from theft and data loss. Shred sensitive data before recycling and never share financial information with unauthorized personnel. Scan important documents and keep backup copies on a password-protected and secure external drive or cloud setting. Keep digital photographs of valued assets.

For more business tax tips and information, visit www.irs.gov. Learn more about TaxACT at www.taxact.com.

March 2015
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Upcoming Tax Dates

March 2All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2014.

March 2Farmers & fishermen
File your 2014 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due - Details

March 2Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2014. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 2.

March 2 All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2014. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 2.

March 2 Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

March 2 Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during January.

March 2 Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in January.

March 10 Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer - Details

March 11 Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of February.

March 13 Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 13 days of February.

March 16 Corporations
File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due - Details

March 16 S Corporations
File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due - Details

March 16 S Corporation election
File Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, to elect to be treated as an S corporation beginning with calendar year 2015. If Form 2553 is filed late, S corporation treatment will begin with calendar year 2016.

March 16 Electing larger partnerships
Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K1 (Form 1065B), Partner's Share of Income (Loss) From an Electing Large Partnership, or a substitute Schedule K1. This due date applies even if the partnership requests an extension of time to file the Form 1065B by filing Form 7004

March 16 Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule Page 6 Publication 509 (2015) applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 16 Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 25 Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 14 days of February.

March 27 Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of March.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms W2
File copies of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms W2G
File copies of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms 8027
File Forms 8027 for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during February.

March 31 Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in February.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, and W2G.
File Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, and W2G with the IRS. This due date applies only if you file electronically. Otherwise, see March 2. The due date for giving the recipient these forms generally remains February 2. View More Tax Dates