Many small business owners think of the Internal Revenue Service as a faceless, complicated, unresponsive bureaucracy. But the IRS has one of the most well-organized, information-rich, and comprehensive sites in the federal government, where you can learn much about tax issues for your business. Here are some of the most helpful IRS.gov features.
Starting and Managing Your Business
Begin at the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. If you have a startup, you can check out the IRS’s tutorials on the Starting a Business page to learn what you need to know taxwise to open your doors. You’ll find information on topics from accounting methods and business structure to recordkeeping and tax-year decisions.
Once you are up and running, the Operating a Business page pulls together tax information you will need for operating a business day to day. If you are contemplating closing your business, you can lessen the pain with the IRS’s handy Closing a Business Checklist.
You can cut IRS data several ways to find the tax information most relevant to your business. Visit the site for information on specific business structures, for example, or check out the Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center. You can also find tax information that is specific to your industry or profession. Nineteen sectors get their own vertical, including agriculture, automotive, construction, manufacturing, real estate, restaurants, and trucking. E-commerce businesses can head to the E-business & E-commerce Tax Center.
Publications and E-newsletters
The IRS offers many useful online publications. A good starting point is Information About Small Business Federal Tax Responsibilities. There’s even a recommended reading list you can browse through. The list of small business resources gives you quick links to many other government agencies, including links to state government Web sites.
Subscribing to the IRS’s E-news for Small Business is one of the easiest ways to learn about tax code changes that could affect your business.
Forms and Filing
When you need to fill out IRS forms, there’s no need to trudge down to your local IRS office to pick them up. You can print out dozens of forms straight from the site’s Small Business Forms and Publications page. One of the most popular pages is the Tax Calendar for Small Businesses and Self-Employed. This handy guide reminds you about tax payments that may be due, day by day throughout the year.
Want to save paper? The IRS provides everything businesses need to know about making electronic tax payments at its E-file for Business and Self-Employed Taxpayers page. If you make quarterly tax payments, be sure to check into using the electronic federal tax payment system.
If you think you’ve gotten a raw deal from the IRS, its Taxpayer Advocate Service will handle your complaint. The page provides basic information on the service, along with a list of local taxpayer advocates who can help you seek justice.
If you’re still feeling befuddled after your tour around IRS.gov, the agency offers small business tax workshops in a variety of formats, via phone, DVDs, and online streaming video Web seminars. The agency offers 15 different online learning and educational products, from interactive classes for Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs to training on the tax calendar or recognizing tax scams. You can also attend in-person small business tax workshops.
Business reporter Carol Tice contributes to several national and regional business publications.