Closing Your Business?

March 20, 2024

Closing a business is a significant decision that often comes with a mix of emotions. Whether it's due to financial challenges, changes in market conditions, or personal reasons, shutting down a business can be a complex and daunting task. From wrapping up operations to fulfilling legal obligations, there are numerous factors to consider when closing a business.

One of the key challenges in closing a business is navigating the federal tax implications. Ensuring compliance with tax laws and regulations is crucial to avoiding potential penalties and liabilities. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers resources to help business owners navigate the process of closing their business from a federal tax perspective.

File a Final Return and Related Forms

Filing a final return serves several important purposes. Firstly, it provides a clear snapshot of the business's financial status at the time of closure. This helps ensure that all income and expenses are accurately reported to the IRS, preventing any potential discrepancies or audit issues down the line. Additionally, filing a final return allows the IRS to close out the business's tax account properly, ensuring that no outstanding tax liabilities are left unresolved.

Types of Returns and Related Forms

The type of return and related forms required when closing a business depend on the structure of the business entity:

- Sole Proprietorship: If you're a sole proprietor, you'll need to file a final Schedule C (Form 1040) along with your individual income tax return (Form 1040). This schedule summarizes your business's income and expenses for the final year of operation.

- Partnership: For partnerships, the final return is typically filed on Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income. Partnerships must also provide each partner with a Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), which outlines their share of the partnership's income, deductions, and credits.

- Corporation: Corporations, including S corporations, must file a final corporate income tax return on Form 1120 (or Form 1120-S for S corporations). This return reports the corporation's income, deductions, and credits for the final tax year.

In addition to the final income tax return, business owners may also need to file other related forms, such as:

- Form 966: Corporate Dissolution or Liquidation - This form notifies the IRS of the corporation's dissolution or liquidation and provides information about the final distribution of assets.

- Form 4797: Sales of Business Property - If the business sold any assets during the final year of operation, Form 4797 is used to report these sales and calculate any gain or loss on the disposition of assets.

Take Care of Your Employees

Paying Final Wages and Compensation

One of the primary obligations when closing a business is to pay any final wages and compensation owed to employees. This includes regular wages, accrued vacation or sick leave, bonuses, and any other forms of compensation earned by employees up to the date of closure. It's essential to calculate these amounts accurately and ensure that employees receive their final payments in a timely manner.

Reporting and Paying Employment Taxes

In addition to paying final wages and compensation, employers are also responsible for reporting and paying employment taxes to the IRS. This involves several steps and requires the completion of various forms:

- Form 941 or Form 944: Employers must file either Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, or Form 944, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return, for the quarter in which final wage payments are made to employees. These forms report wages, tips, and other compensation paid to employees, as well as federal income tax withheld and Social Security and Medicare taxes owed by the employer.

- Form 940: Employers must also file Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return, for the calendar year in which final wages are paid to employees. This form reports the amount of FUTA tax owed by the employer based on the wages paid to employees during the year.

Importance of Providing Form W-2 to Employees

Another crucial aspect of closing a business is providing Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to each employee for the calendar year in which final wages are paid. Form W-2 reports the employee's total earnings and the amount of federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax withheld by the employer.

Employers should provide Forms W-2 to employees by the due date of their final Form 941 or Form 944. Copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2 should be furnished to employees, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements, should be filed with the Social Security Administration to transmit Copy A of Form W-2.

Pay the Tax You Owe

Assess Your Tax Liabilities

The first step is to assess the tax liabilities owed by your business. This may include income taxes, employment taxes, and any other federal taxes that the business is responsible for. Review your financial records carefully to determine the amount owed to the IRS.

Determine Payment Methods

- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): EFT allows you to transfer funds electronically from your bank account to the IRS. This method is convenient, secure, and efficient, allowing you to schedule payments in advance and track them online.

- Credit or Debit Card: The IRS accepts credit and debit card payments through authorized payment processors. Keep in mind that these processors may charge a fee for their services, so be sure to factor that into your decision.

- Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS): EFTPS is a free service provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that allows businesses to make federal tax payments online or by phone. To use EFTPS, you'll need to enroll in the system and schedule your payments in advance.

- Check or Money Order: If you prefer to pay by check or money order, you can mail your payment to the IRS along with a payment voucher. Be sure to include your business's name, address, and Employer Identification Number (EIN) on the check or money order, as well as the tax year and form number you're paying.

Make Timely Payments

Regardless of the payment method you choose, it's essential to make timely payments to avoid penalties and interest charges. The IRS imposes penalties for late payment of taxes, so be sure to submit your payment by the due date. If you're unable to pay the full amount owed, consider setting up an installment agreement with the IRS to pay the balance over time.

Keep Records of Payments

After making your tax payments, be sure to keep thorough records of the transactions for your records. This includes documentation of the payment method, the amount paid, the date of payment, and any confirmation numbers or receipts provided by the IRS or payment processor.

Report Payments to Contract Workers

Businesses are required to report payments of $600 or more made to contractors, freelancers, and other non-employees during the calendar year. These payments are reported on Form 1099-NEC (Nonemployee Compensation), which serves as a record of the income paid to the contractor and is used by the IRS to verify income reported on the contractor's tax return.

Filing Form 1099-NEC

To report payments made to contract workers, you'll need to complete and file Form 1099-NEC with the IRS. Here's a brief overview of the process:

- Gather Information: Collect the necessary information for each contractor, including their name, address, and taxpayer identification number (TIN) or Social Security number (SSN). You'll also need to determine the total amount paid to each contractor during the calendar year.

- Complete Form 1099-NEC: Use the information gathered to complete Form 1099-NEC for each contractor. Include the contractor's name, address, and TIN or SSN in the appropriate boxes, as well as the total amount paid to the contractor in Box 1, Nonemployee Compensation.

- File Form 1099-NEC: After completing Form 1099-NEC for each contractor, you'll need to file the forms with the IRS. You can file electronically through the IRS's FIRE (Filing Information Returns Electronically) system or by mail using paper forms. If you're filing paper forms, you'll also need to include Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, which summarizes the total number of Forms 1099-NEC being filed.

Cancel Your EIN and Close Your IRS Business Account

Closing your business requires taking steps to officially close your IRS business account and cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN). 

Steps to Cancel Your EIN and Close Your IRS Business Account

1. File Final Tax Returns: Before you can close your IRS business account, you must file all required final tax returns for your business. This includes any outstanding income tax returns, employment tax returns, and information returns, such as Forms W-2 and 1099.

2. Pay Any Outstanding Taxes: Ensure that all outstanding taxes owed by your business are paid in full before proceeding with the closure process. This includes income taxes, employment taxes, and any other federal taxes for which your business is liable.

3. Submit a Letter to the IRS: Once all final tax returns have been filed and taxes paid, you can submit a letter to the IRS requesting the closure of your business account and the cancellation of your EIN. The letter should include the following information:

    - The complete legal name of the business

    - The business EIN

    - The business address

    - The reason for requesting the closure of the account

4. Include Supporting Documentation: If you have it available, include a copy of the notice you received from the IRS when your EIN was assigned. This will help the IRS locate your business account more quickly and expedite the closure process.

5. Mail the Letter to the IRS: Send your letter to the IRS at the following address:

    Internal Revenue Service  

    Cincinnati, OH 45999  

Keep Your Records

- Property Records: Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property. This includes records such as purchase invoices, depreciation schedules, and records of improvements made to the property.

- Employment Tax Records: Retain all records of employment taxes for at least four years. This includes records of wages paid, taxes withheld, and employment tax returns filed. Additionally, keep copies of Forms W-2 and W-3 for at least four years.

- Financial Records: Retain financial records, such as income statements, balance sheets, and general ledgers, for at least seven years. These records provide a comprehensive overview of your business's financial transactions and may be needed for tax purposes or financial reporting.

- Legal and Contractual Records: Keep copies of legal documents, contracts, and agreements for as long as they may be relevant. This includes contracts with vendors, leases, and agreements with customers or clients. These records can help protect your legal rights and resolve disputes that may arise in the future.