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FAQ

Under what circumstances should you file Tax Form 941?
You file a Form 941, if during the previous quarter you had any of the following:Wages you paid.Tips your employees received.Federal income tax you withheld.Both the employer's or the employee's share of social security and Medicare taxes you withheld.Additional Medicare Tax withheld from employees.Current quarter's adjustments to social security and Medicare taxes for fractions of cents, sick pay, tips, and group-term life insurance.After you file your first 941, then you need to file a 941 every quarter afterwards, even if you have no taxes to report unless one of the following applies:Filed a final 941- You already filed a final 941 return in the previous quarter.Seasonal employers- If you are a seasonal employer you do not have to file a Form 941 for quarters in which they have no tax liability because you have paid no wages. To tell the IRS that you will not file a return for one or more quarters during the year, check the box on line 16 every quarter you file Form 941. See section 12 of Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide   for more information.Employers of household employees do not usually file Form 941. See Pub. 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide, and Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes, Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide for more information.Employers of farm employees do not usually file Form 941. See Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees  E and Publication 51 (2015), (Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide .
After a disregarded-entity LLC becomes taxable as a C corporation, can payments prior to the status change be applied as W-2 employee wages?
Before I can give you a definitive answer I need to know: 1) did you timely file and pay your quarterly Form 941 payroll tax reports reflecting these payments as payroll?  and 2) Did you register and timely file and pay all Unemployment taxes? If so, you probably have a good argument for treating the payments as W-2 wages.  If not you will probably lose at the recharacterization. The W-2 needs to match your Form 941 payroll tax filings.  If this happened in the 4th Quarter of 2015 you still have time to file the payroll reports. If this happened before the 4th Quarter of 2015 you could try to file and pay delinquent quarterly Form 941 payroll tax reports and delinquent Unemployment forms and taxes but the late filing and late payment penalties might not be worth it.
How long does it take the IRS to accept or reject an IRS Form 941 return?
If you e-file, you should get your e-file acknowledgement back within the hour. Your software provider should provide you with your ack code, which they receive from the IRS.The IRS servers are lightning fast now after they upgraded them a few years ago after the Russians hacked into them back in 2015. (IRS believes Russians are behind tax return data breach - CNNPolitics). No more waiting 24 -48 hours for an ack code, even though they still tell you officially that’s how long it will take.If you paper file, the whole process slows down to a crawl, and if you make a mistake, the interest and penalties add up before you even know there’s a problem.
Startup Law: When do I need to submit my company's first tax return?
Most folks only think about the annual Form 1120 Tax return, but there’s actually a ton of taxes and tax deadlines for Delaware CCorps.Keep in mind that bootstrapped/pre-revenue/ just expenses startups must pay taxes. You might not be subject to Income Taxes (which are based on profitability) but you will still be subject to a wide variety of other taxes which aren’t always connected to Revenue.To start, here are 4 Startup Tax Calendars, based on metro:New York Startup Tax CalendarPalo Alto Startup Tax CalendarSanta Monica Startup Tax CalendarSan Francisco Startup Tax CalendarQuick caveat though, these startup tax checklists aren’t complete. There are actually a bunch of taxes out there, some of which may or may not apply to you (depending on your unique circumstances, of course). Here’s a list of just some of the different types of taxes out there that you may need to consider:Income Tax: this type of tax is what most people think of when they hear taxes. It’s taxes based on your Net Income, or profit. (Filed once per year, most startups file on 4/15)Gross Receipts Tax: some cities, like San Francisco, will tax your Gross Revenue. (SF requires you to make quarterly payments.)Franchise Tax: this type of tax is imposed on businesses who just…exist. Yes, for the pleasure of existing, you will be asked to pay a tax. There’s often a minimum fee, and most times it has nothing to do with whether you’ve generated income. The most common type of Franchise Tax for venture backed startups is DE Franchise Tax, which runs $400+ every year. (DE requires you to make quarterly payments if you will owe $5K+.)Payroll Tax: if you have employees, you have payroll tax. Be sure to use a payroll provider like Gusto to help you pay the right taxes at the right time, and file all the requisite forms (like the 941s). (Your payroll provider will submit taxes after every payroll and report tax quarterly on a 941.)Sales Tax: if you tangible goods (eg clothes, furniture, widgets, stuff you can hold in your hand), you’ll need to register, pay, and file sales tax. Use Avalara, because like payroll tax, it can get super crazy very quickly. (The more you owe, the more frequently you file, eg monthly vs quarterly)SaaS Tax: see more hereProperty Tax: if you have significant property holdings, whether that be land, or even just computers/tables/chairs, you might be subject to property taxes. This type of filing is frequently known as a “571-L.” (Usually filed once per year around March - June)Foreign Tax: if you have a foreign subsidiary or parent company, you might be subject to withholding tax, or FBAR/5471/5472 reporting. Be sure to get this one right; the penalties for getting it wrong can be $10K+. (Usually filed on 4/15)A very common misconception is that the CPA or firm that filed your annual tax return (the 1120) will have taken care of all these types of taxes: that is never the case!! It is always the CEO’s responsibility to make sure that these taxes are addressed and paid on time. Granted, a CEO can only know so much… and the CPA can only guess as to which types of taxes a company might be subject to. Hence, it’s really important to sit down with a CPA to make sure that all bases are covered based on your company’s unique situation.
How do you calculate R&D job tax credit?
Startup R&D tax credits are about to change dramatically. Traditionally, these tax credits were calculated and saved up against a Corporation’s annual tax forms. For startups that aren’t yet profitable, that meant that they would only benefit from these tax credits once they became profitable in future years.The PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act of 2015 has changed all of that. Regulators acknowledged that the old R&D tax credits weren’t appetizing to founders if it only promised a potential future benefit that may never be realized. And so the R&D tax credit has been revised to give more instant gratification: R&D tax credits generated in 2016 can be used to offset payroll taxes come mid-2017.In prior years I’ve sometimes told my clients that the cost of performing an R&D tax credit study would outweigh the benefit. Now that you can claim these credits almost immediately and against your payroll taxes, I highly recommend that every eligible startup engage in an R&D Tax Credit payroll offset.Why should I have my startup file for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?***IT SAVES YOU DIRECT $$$ NOW!!!***Up to $250,000 per year for up to 5 years!Am I eligible? Can any startup apply for the R&D tax credit payroll offset? What defines Research & Development?Unfortunately, not every company is eligible. You must be creating something new, and by new I mean pass the IRS’ 4 Part Test. Your R&D must be:Specific: no mindless tinkering allowed. The project must be defined.Eliminate Uncertainty: must be contributing real scientific advancement, not just proving existing knowledge.Experimental: either have a scientific method or trial and error process.Technical: the work must be grounded in the hard sciences like biology or engineering.Are there any R&D activities that don’t qualify?Research after commercial productionAdaptation of existing business componentsDuplication of existing business componentReverse EngineeringSurveys & studiesComputer software for internal useForeign researchResearch in the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, etc.Funded researchIs my startup eligible for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?The startup must have qualifying R&D expenses (see definition below).The startup must be new; only startups that have generated revenue for 5 years or less can claim the new tax credit. If you had receipts prior to 2012, then you’re ineligible.The startup must have less than $5 million in revenue in 2016 and each subsequent year that you claim the payroll offset.What qualifies as a R&D Expense? What goes into the calculation?Wages: but only for those people who engage in R&D activities.Subcontractors engaged in R&D: ‘nuff said.Supplies: only include direct supplies that were related to the R&D project and weren’t classified as an asset.Computer Leases/Rentals: we rarely see this…How do I claim the R&D tax credit payroll offset?First file the R&D tax credit on Form 6765 (Credit for Increasing Research Activities) which is a part of your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 (US Corporation Income Tax Return). Then claim your R&D tax credit on payroll tax form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return); you’ll need to work with your payroll processor to make this happen. We love working with Gusto, but just about every major payroll processor should be able to help.When should I file the R&D tax credit payroll offset?In early 2017, after you’ve closed out your 2016 books. Work with your CPA on an R&D tax credit study: once you’ve determined what your tax credit will be, add it to your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 and file the return. In the quarter following your 1120 filing, you can start applying those tax credits to your payroll taxes. For example, if you file your Form 1120 by March 15th, the first payroll tax offset you would receive is for Q2 2017.How much will my startup really save by implementing the startup R&D tax credit payroll offset?~10% of eligible R&D costs, up to $250,000 per year, for 5 years.Caveat: this article is intended as general guidance for startups and it doesn’t substitute the need to work with a professional. It’s also a high level overview and is in no way complete. Your company is unique; talk to your CPA.
Can bootstrapping tech entrepreneurs claim the R&D tax credit?
Startup R&D tax credits changed dramatically starting tax year 2016. Traditionally, these tax credits were calculated and saved up against a Corporation’s annual tax forms. For startups that aren’t yet profitable, that meant that they would only benefit from these tax credits once they became profitable in future years.The PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act of 2015 has changed all of that. Regulators acknowledged that the old R&D tax credits weren’t appetizing to founders if it only promised a potential future benefit that may never be realized. And so the R&D tax credit has been revised to give more instant gratification: R&D tax credits generated in 2016 can be used to offset payroll taxes come mid-2017.In prior years I’ve sometimes told my clients that the cost of performing an R&D tax credit study would outweigh the benefit. Now that you can claim these credits almost immediately and against your payroll taxes, I highly recommend that every eligible startup engage in an R&D Tax Credit payroll offset.Why should I have my startup file for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?***IT SAVES YOU DIRECT $$$ NOW!!!***Up to $250,000 per year for up to 5 years!Am I eligible? Can any startup apply for the R&D tax credit payroll offset? What defines Research & Development?Unfortunately, not every company is eligible. You must be creating something new, and by new I mean pass the IRS’ 4 Part Test. Your R&D must be:Specific: no mindless tinkering allowed. The project must be defined.Eliminate Uncertainty: must be contributing real scientific advancement, not just proving existing knowledge.Experimental: either have a scientific method or trial and error process.Technical: the work must be grounded in the hard sciences like biology or engineering.Are there any R&D activities that don’t qualify?Research after commercial productionAdaptation of existing business componentsDuplication of existing business componentReverse EngineeringSurveys & studiesComputer software for internal useForeign researchResearch in the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, etc.Funded researchIs my startup eligible for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?The startup must have qualifying R&D expenses (see definition below).The startup must be new; only startups that have generated revenue for 5 years or less can claim the new tax credit. If you had receipts prior to 2012, then you’re ineligible.The startup must have less than $5 million in revenue in 2016 and each subsequent year that you claim the payroll offset.What qualifies as a R&D Expense? What goes into the calculation?Wages: but only for those people who engage in R&D activities.Subcontractors engaged in R&D: ‘nuff said.Supplies: only include direct supplies that were related to the R&D project and weren’t classified as an asset.Computer Leases/Rentals: we rarely see this…How do I claim the R&D tax credit payroll offset?First file the R&D tax credit on Form 6765 (Credit for Increasing Research Activities) which is a part of your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 (US Corporation Income Tax Return). Then claim your R&D tax credit on payroll tax form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return); you’ll need to work with your payroll processor to make this happen. We love working with Gusto, but just about every major payroll processor should be able to help.When should I file the R&D tax credit payroll offset?In early 2017, after you’ve closed out your 2016 books. Work with your CPA on an R&D tax credit study: once you’ve determined what your tax credit will be, add it to your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 and file the return. In the quarter following your 1120 filing, you can start applying those tax credits to your payroll taxes. For example, if you file your Form 1120 by March 15th, the first payroll tax offset you would receive is for Q2 2017.How much will my startup really save by implementing the startup R&D tax credit payroll offset?~10% of eligible R&D costs, up to $250,000 per year, for 5 years.Caveat: this article is intended as general guidance for startups and it doesn’t substitute the need to work with a professional. It’s also a high level overview and is in no way complete. Your company is unique; talk to your CPA.
How do the best tech companies track engineers' time to allocate salaries for the US R&D tax credit? Do they require their engineers to enter their hours every week or do they use some other method?
When it comes to tracking engineers’ time to substantiate the US R&D tax credit, your safest bet is to use a time tracking app on a daily basis. We love Harvest for this purpose. You can always use paper timesheets, excel sheets, or email records. Time tracking because increasingly important for later stage startups and those startups that are generating revenue or have alreayd brought a product/service to market. This is because the line between improving a current product/service and developing new technologies becomes increasingly blurred. Remember, you can only claim the R&D credit if you’re developing something new. More info below :)Startup R&D tax credits changed dramatically starting tax year 2016. Traditionally, these tax credits were calculated and saved up against a Corporation’s annual tax forms. For startups that aren’t yet profitable, that meant that they would only benefit from these tax credits once they became profitable in future years.The PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act of 2015 has changed all of that. Regulators acknowledged that the old R&D tax credits weren’t appetizing to founders if it only promised a potential future benefit that may never be realized. And so the R&D tax credit has been revised to give more instant gratification: R&D tax credits generated in 2016 can be used to offset payroll taxes come mid-2017.In prior years I’ve sometimes told my clients that the cost of performing an R&D tax credit study would outweigh the benefit. Now that you can claim these credits almost immediately and against your payroll taxes, I highly recommend that every eligible startup engage in an R&D Tax Credit payroll offset.Why should I have my startup file for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?***IT SAVES YOU DIRECT $$$ NOW!!!***Up to $250,000 per year for up to 5 years!Am I eligible? Can any startup apply for the R&D tax credit payroll offset? What defines Research & Development?Unfortunately, not every company is eligible. You must be creating something new, and by new I mean pass the IRS’ 4 Part Test. Your R&D must be:Specific: no mindless tinkering allowed. The project must be defined.Eliminate Uncertainty: must be contributing real scientific advancement, not just proving existing knowledge.Experimental: either have a scientific method or trial and error process.Technical: the work must be grounded in the hard sciences like biology or engineering.Are there any R&D activities that don’t qualify?Research after commercial productionAdaptation of existing business componentsDuplication of existing business componentReverse EngineeringSurveys & studiesComputer software for internal useForeign researchResearch in the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, etc.Funded researchIs my startup eligible for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?The startup must have qualifying R&D expenses (see definition below).The startup must be new; only startups that have generated revenue for 5 years or less can claim the new tax credit. If you had receipts prior to 2012, then you’re ineligible.The startup must have less than $5 million in revenue in 2016 and each subsequent year that you claim the payroll offset.What qualifies as a R&D Expense? What goes into the calculation?Wages: but only for those people who engage in R&D activities.Subcontractors engaged in R&D: ‘nuff said.Supplies: only include direct supplies that were related to the R&D project and weren’t classified as an asset.Computer Leases/Rentals: we rarely see this…How do I claim the R&D tax credit payroll offset?First file the R&D tax credit on Form 6765 (Credit for Increasing Research Activities) which is a part of your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 (US Corporation Income Tax Return). Then claim your R&D tax credit on payroll tax form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return); you’ll need to work with your payroll processor to make this happen. We love working with Gusto, but just about every major payroll processor should be able to help.When should I file the R&D tax credit payroll offset?In early 2017, after you’ve closed out your 2016 books. Work with your CPA on an R&D tax credit study: once you’ve determined what your tax credit will be, add it to your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 and file the return. In the quarter following your 1120 filing, you can start applying those tax credits to your payroll taxes. For example, if you file your Form 1120 by March 15th, the first payroll tax offset you would receive is for Q2 2017.How much will my startup really save by implementing the startup R&D tax credit payroll offset?~10% of eligible R&D costs, up to $250,000 per year, for 5 years.Caveat: this article is intended as general guidance for startups and it doesn’t substitute the need to work with a professional. It’s also a high level overview and is in no way complete. Your company is unique; talk to your CPA.
When using "wages" to calculate the R&D tax credit, can you include an employee's fully loaded payroll costs (e.g. payroll taxes, etc.)?
When using "wages" to calculate the R&D tax credit, you SHOULD NOT include an employee's fully loaded payroll costs. You should only include an employee’s W2 Wages. Things that you should exclude are Employer Payroll Taxes, Benefits, Overhead per Employee, etc.More info below :)Startup R&D tax credits changed dramatically starting tax year 2016. Traditionally, these tax credits were calculated and saved up against a Corporation’s annual tax forms. For startups that aren’t yet profitable, that meant that they would only benefit from these tax credits once they became profitable in future years.The PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act of 2015 has changed all of that. Regulators acknowledged that the old R&D tax credits weren’t appetizing to founders if it only promised a potential future benefit that may never be realized. And so the R&D tax credit has been revised to give more instant gratification: R&D tax credits generated in 2016 can be used to offset payroll taxes come mid-2017.In prior years I’ve sometimes told my clients that the cost of performing an R&D tax credit study would outweigh the benefit. Now that you can claim these credits almost immediately and against your payroll taxes, I highly recommend that every eligible startup engage in an R&D Tax Credit payroll offset.Why should I have my startup file for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?***IT SAVES YOU DIRECT $$$ NOW!!!***Up to $250,000 per year for up to 5 years!Am I eligible? Can any startup apply for the R&D tax credit payroll offset? What defines Research & Development?Unfortunately, not every company is eligible. You must be creating something new, and by new I mean pass the IRS’ 4 Part Test. Your R&D must be:Specific: no mindless tinkering allowed. The project must be defined.Eliminate Uncertainty: must be contributing real scientific advancement, not just proving existing knowledge.Experimental: either have a scientific method or trial and error process.Technical: the work must be grounded in the hard sciences like biology or engineering.Are there any R&D activities that don’t qualify?Research after commercial productionAdaptation of existing business componentsDuplication of existing business componentReverse EngineeringSurveys & studiesComputer software for internal useForeign researchResearch in the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, etc.Funded researchIs my startup eligible for the R&D tax credit payroll offset?The startup must have qualifying R&D expenses (see definition below).The startup must be new; only startups that have generated revenue for 5 years or less can claim the new tax credit. If you had receipts prior to 2012, then you’re ineligible.The startup must have less than $5 million in revenue in 2016 and each subsequent year that you claim the payroll offset.What qualifies as a R&D Expense? What goes into the calculation?Wages: but only for those people who engage in R&D activities.Subcontractors engaged in R&D: ‘nuff said.Supplies: only include direct supplies that were related to the R&D project and weren’t classified as an asset.Computer Leases/Rentals: we rarely see this…How do I claim the R&D tax credit payroll offset?First file the R&D tax credit on Form 6765 (Credit for Increasing Research Activities) which is a part of your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 (US Corporation Income Tax Return). Then claim your R&D tax credit on payroll tax form 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return); you’ll need to work with your payroll processor to make this happen. We love working with Gusto, but just about every major payroll processor should be able to help.When should I file the R&D tax credit payroll offset?In early 2017, after you’ve closed out your 2016 books. Work with your CPA on an R&D tax credit study: once you’ve determined what your tax credit will be, add it to your 2016 annual corporate form 1120 and file the return. In the quarter following your 1120 filing, you can start applying those tax credits to your payroll taxes. For example, if you file your Form 1120 by March 15th, the first payroll tax offset you would receive is for Q2 2017.How much will my startup really save by implementing the startup R&D tax credit payroll offset?~10% of eligible R&D costs, up to $250,000 per year, for 5 years.Caveat: this article is intended as general guidance for startups and it doesn’t substitute the need to work with a professional. It’s also a high level overview and is in no way complete. Your company is unique; talk to your CPA.