Don’t Miss These Important Early Tax Deadlines

The start of the year also marks the beginning of some essential tax paperwork for small business owners.
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Add these important dates to your calendar so you can file your taxes on time and avoid late fees. (Photo: Pixelbliss/Shutterstock)

It’s easy to get so involved with your business that important tax dates slip by.

“Failing to file a return triggers late filing penalties. The sooner they’re filed, the smaller the penalty,” said Barbara Weltman, a tax attorney and author of “J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2017” and other books.

Fortunately, penalties are lower for small businesses. And in some cases, small businesses may be eligible for penalty relief under the IRS’s First Time Penalty Abatement policy.

The IRS also offers some leniency if you make a mistake. “Unintentional de minimis errors (less than $100) don’t have to be corrected, and no penalties apply,” Weltman said. “However, the IRS encourages employers to correct W-2s so employees get the right credit from the Social Security Administration.”

Still, it’s best to get your forms and deposits in by deadline and right the first time. Here are some of the deadlines you and your accountant or tax preparer will want to discuss before filing by Deadline Day, April 18.

Related: Getting Ready for Tax Season: What Small Business Owners Should Know

January 17

If you are a sole proprietor or independent contractor who pays estimated income taxes each quarter, January 17 is the deadline for paying the final installment of your estimated taxes for 2016.

January 17 is also the deadline to deposit payroll tax for December 2016 if your business is subject to the monthly deposit rule. Generally, businesses follow the monthly schedule if during the IRS’s four-quarter “lookback period” their total reported tax was $50,000 or less.

January 31

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Jan. 31 is the day to file a W-3 form and all W-2 forms your business issued to employees for 2016. (Photo: xtock/Shutterstock)

This is the deadline to furnish a Form W-2 to employees who worked for your business in 2016.

January 31 is also the deadline to:

Furnish payees with Form 1098 (“Mortgage Interest Statement”), Form 1099-MISC (“Miscellaneous Income”) or any of the various other IRS 1099 forms, if applicable.

File Form W-3 (“Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements”), along with Copy A of all Forms W-2 your business issued to employees for 2016. The Social Security Administration has this Checklist for W-2/W-3 Online Filing on its website.

File Form 720 (“Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return”) for the fourth quarter of 2016, if applicable.

Deposit any Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) your business owed through December 2016.

File Forms 940 (“Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return”), 941 (“Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return”), 943 (“Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees”), 944 (“Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return,” for very small employers), and/or 945 (“Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax”), as applicable. If you deposited these taxes when they were due, you may have another 10 days to file, as explained on the IRS Employment Tax Due Dates page.

February deadlines

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February 15 is the deadline if you make monthly payroll tax deposits. (Photo: Nadya Lukic/Shutterstock)

Of course, tax deadlines don’t end with January. These are some deadlines to note in February and March:

February 10: The deadline for filing Forms 940, 941, 943, 944 and/or 945 if you didn’t file them in January (see January 31, above).

February 15: The deadline if you make monthly payroll tax deposits.

February 16: The deadline to begin withholding for employees who claimed exemption from withholding in 2016 but who have not filed a W-4 (“Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate”) or the Spanish language version W-4(SP) to continue their exemption for 2017.

March deadline

March 15: S Corps and Partnerships are required to file their respective tax forms or to file for an extension.

You can find the deadlines for additional months listed on the IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed. While there, you can also sign up for an RSS feed to alert you to upcoming tax deadlines and download the IRS Desktop Calendar Tool.

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