The S corp income tax rate refers to the federal, state, and local individual income taxes that S corporations are required to pay. Owners of S corporations need to pay 0 to 13.3 percent state and local income taxes and a top marginal rate of 39.6 percent for federal personal income taxes.

What Is An S Corporation?

A S corporation, also referred to as an S corp, is a type of corporation that functions like a corporation but is taxed on the individual tax forms of the shareholders for the purposes of federal income tax.

S corporations are not permitted to have more than 100 shareholders. The shareholders of a S corporation need to be U.S. citizens. Also, S corporations cannot be owned by another business.

If a shareholder is active, the shareholder participates in the daily activity of the S corporation. On the other hand, a passive shareholder doesn't participate in the daily activity of the S corporation.

For the purposes of tax, S corporations are viewed as a taxing mechanism for pass-through taxes. The tax of the S corporation is passed through to the shareholders for the purposes of federal income taxes. However, the taxes aren't passed to the entity itself.

S Corporation Shareholders Taxation

The owners of S corporations face marginal tax rates that are similar to those faced by individual wages earners. The same is true for all other pass-through owners. However, the amount that owners pay in taxes depend on the participation of the owners in the business.

The owners of S corporations are required to pay federal income taxes, local income taxes, and federal income taxes. These owners also face the Pease limitation when it comes to itemized deductions. the Pease limitation adds 1.18 percent to the marginal tax rate.

The difference in terms of the way different types of owners are taxed is determined by how the ACA Net Investment Income Tax and the payroll tax impacts the owners. The payroll tax refers to the tax that funds Medicare and Social Security.

Active shareholders receive wage income and a profit distribution from S corporations. 

The wage income is subject to payroll taxes. The payroll tax is 15.3 percent for the first $117,000, about 2.9 percent for the next $83,000, and then 3.8 percent for all income that exceeds $200,000. The payroll tax does not need to paid on the profit distribution. 

Therefore, if an owner gets $400,000 and one-quarter of it is wage income, the owner will need to pay $15,300 total in payroll taxes. The other $300,00 will be completely exempt from the tax.

The top marginal tax rates for shareholders who are active differ based on if the last dollar is wage or profit.

Passive shareholders, on the other hand, are not required to pay a payroll tax on any income they get from the S corporation because they do not get a wage from the S corporation. Rather, the shareholders are subject to the Net Investment Income Tax of the ACA. This tax amounts to 3.8 percent and only applies to income that exceeds $200,000 or $250,000 for a married couple that is filing jointly.

Shareholders who are passive may face top marginal tax rates that are higher than those of active shareholders.

The IRS has established various guidelines for businesses. The IRS requires that S corporations pay their active owners a reasonable salary.

How Does An S Corporation Pay Federal Income Taxes?

A S corporation pays federal income taxes by following these steps:

  1. Filing the Form 1120S, which is the corporate tax return.
  2. The share of the loss or profit for each shareholder is recorded on the Schedule K-1. The Schedule K-1 provides information to the shareholders for reporting income from the S corporation
  3. The shareholders use the Schedule K-1 to file their individual tax returns, or Form 1040.

S corporation owners pay income taxes that are based on the basis, which is a number that quantifies the share of ownership. For example, an S corporation who possesses one-fourth of the ownership will have to claim one-fourth of the income for the purpose of paying federal taxes.

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