Your Year-End Guide

Jazmin Cicotti
Dec 16, 2023
7 min read
Jazmin Cicotti
Certified EA
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Your Year-End Guide: Preparing for a Smooth Filing Season

The holidays can be tiring, from parties and family outings to wrapping gifts and thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. During this time, it’s not uncommon for your business to be put on the back burner.

However, before you put dozens of items above your business, you need to be sure you are fully prepared for the upcoming filing season. Many deadlines hit as soon as January 31st, meaning you don’t want to be scrambling to put together forms.

In this guide, we’ll cover all of the filing season deadlines you need to be aware of and how you can properly position your business for timely and accurate filings in the new year. For simplicity, we’ve broken down your filing obligations by date. Print out this guide and put it somewhere you are constantly reminded to ensure you are meeting every deadline!

January 15th Deadline

January 15th is the 4th quarter estimated payment due date. This deadline applies to businesses that are paying taxes at the corporate level, such as entity-level taxes, and individuals who are required to make estimated tax payments.

Putting together a tax projection can help ensure you are remitting the proper quarterly payment. Payments can be made online, or you can mail a check. If you choose to mail a check, be sure the envelope is postdated by January 15th.

January 31st Deadlines

January 31st is a major deadline for business owners. This is the final date to get all 1099s and W-2s filed with the IRS and state agencies. Here’s a list of common tax forms due on this date:

  • 1099-NEC – This form reports contractor wages.
  • 1099-MISC – This form reports payments, like rent and other income, that don’t belong on the 1099-NEC.
  • W-2 – This form outlines the pay and benefits your employees receive during the year.
  • W-3 – This is the reconciliation of all of your W-2s.

The penalties for missing the January 31st deadline can be severe, up to $580 per form for an intentional disregard of filing. To set your business up for success, you want to prioritize closing out the year right after January 1st. This means completing all reconciliations and ensuring completeness in your accounting records.

When it comes to the W-2s, you want to make any applicable year-end fringe benefit adjustments, like 2% shareholder health insurance, personal use of company vehicles, and life insurance with coverage in excess of $50,000. If you utilize a payroll provider, be sure they have all of the necessary information to make these adjustments.

You will also need to evaluate the contractors you paid for throughout the year. Any contractor that is set up as a single-member LLC or sole proprietor that you paid over $600 during the year should receive a 1099-NEC. You can determine this information by requesting a W9 from each contractor.

It’s important that you have all of your payroll and contractor information well before year-end. In fact, once you hire an employee or contractor, you should request their address, tax identification number, and legal name before they begin work. This can eliminate any hiccups once year-end hits.

In addition to filing 1099s and W-2s, your quarterly payroll reports will also be due. Here’s a list of the documents you need to file:

  • Q4 941 – This is the fourth quarter Federal tax reconciliation. Any outstanding Social Security, Medicare, or Federal taxes will be due.
  • 940 – This is the annual reconciliation for Federal unemployment. FUTA is required to be deposited quarterly if your estimated tax liability is greater than $500. However, you only need to file Form 940 at the end of the year to ensure you have paid all applicable taxes.
  • State Unemployment – Depending on your state, you might also need to file a state unemployment reconciliation and pay any outstanding tax.
  • State Withholding – Like state unemployment, state withholding can also have an annual reconciliation. Again, this will be based on the state you have employees in.

If you outsource your payroll to a payroll processor, they will most likely handle the filing of these reports. Nevertheless, if you plan on tackling payroll on your own, be sure you are fully prepared to file all of these reports. Missing a deadline can come with hefty fines and penalties, as payroll taxes are one of the most regulated areas by the IRS and state agencies.

March 15th Deadlines

March 15th is the tax return deadline for businesses structured as a partnership, multi-member LLC, or s corporation. To file an accurate tax return, your accounting system needs to be up-to-date and complete. For example, you can’t file the business tax return if you haven’t completed the past six months of reconciliations.

If you’ve cleaned up your accounting records to file W-2s and 1099s, you should have no issues when it comes time to file your annual business tax return. However, if you need more time, you can request a six-month extension.

Keep in mind that any tax due is still required to be paid on March 15th to avoid underpayment penalties. This is especially important if you are paying entity-level taxes on your state returns. Creating a tax projection can help you determine the amount of any extension payment.

April 15th Deadlines

The April 15th deadline applies to c corporations and individual income tax returns. C corporations have an extra month to file the business tax return because all tax is paid at the corporate level, with no pass-through tax.

Individual income tax returns are also due on this deadline, including Schedule C. Business owners that extend their business return may need to also extend their individual income tax return to wait on Schedule K-1.

Like partnerships, multi-member LLCs, and s corporations, c corporations and individuals will be granted a six-month extension. You will still need to pay any estimated taxes due on April 15th to avoid fines and penalties.

The April 15th deadline is also the date that 1st quarter estimated tax payments are due. This can result in you making two payments: one to extend your return and another to pay 1st quarter estimates. However, many business owners and individuals choose to lump the 1st quarter estimated tax payment into the extension payment and apply any overpayment to the next year.

Remember, any HSA and IRA contributions are also due on April 15th if you are applying the payments to the prior year. Be sure your employees know about this deadline as well.

Other Deadlines

There are other tax deadlines throughout the year to be aware of. Here’s a list of other dates you need to have on your calendar:

  • April 30th – This is the deadline for 1st quarter payroll reports.
  • June 15th – 2nd quarter estimated tax payments are due on this date.
  • July 31st – This date marks the filing deadline for 2nd quarter payroll reports.
  • September 15th – This is the deadline for 3rd quarter estimated tax payments. Additionally, extended March 15th returns are also due.
  • October 15th – Extended individual and c corporation returns are due on this date.
  • October 31st – This is the 3rd quarter payroll report filing deadline.

Don’t forget that there can be other taxes imposed during the year, like sales tax, excise taxes, and value-added taxes, depending on your business’s operations.

Maximizing Success

Are you overwhelmed by the number of tax deadlines throughout the year? If so, you aren’t alone. Managing tax deadlines can be a major burden, which is why it’s important to set your business up for success well before year-end. Here are some top tips and tricks to ensure you are filing all forms by their deadline:

  • Use E-File – The good news is that you no longer need to paper file every form. Use e-file when you can. Not only do you get automatic updates on if your document was accepted, but it can also give you the flexibility to work right up to the deadline. You might need to set up an account with the IRS or your state agency before you can utilize e-file. Explore this process before year-end hits.
  • Stay Consistent with Bookkeeping – Staying on top of your bookkeeping throughout the year is one of the most beneficial things you can do as a business owner. This eliminates panicking and scrambling to meet these tax deadlines, especially the January 31st one. If you don’t have the time to complete monthly bookkeeping tasks, consider hiring an outsourced accountant or bookkeeper.
  • Use a Calendar – Put each of these tax deadlines into your calendar with reminders. Your day-to-day tasks can consume your time. You don’t want to forget about a deadline because it wasn’t on your calendar.
  • Enlist Expert Help – Let’s face it; you can’t do everything on your own. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial to hire an expert rather than try to figure out how to report fringe benefits or which contractors need 1099s issued. Contacting an expert allows you to cross one more thing off your to-do list and gives you peace of mind that everything is handled timely and accurately.

Are you ready to tackle next year’s tax filings? If you are feeling uneasy or hesitant about meeting any of these deadlines, contact one of our team members right away. We can help you meet these tax deadlines with ease, allowing you to focus on more important tasks, like growing your business or spending time with your family. Reach out today to schedule your free consultation.

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