How To Make Sure 2004 Is Your Best (Tax) Year Ever

By: Wayne M. Davies

Sorry to crash your party, but as we bring in the New Year,
it's also time to bring in a New Tax Season.

As a small business owner or self-employed person,
one of the easiest ways to keep Uncle Sam off your back
and out of your life is to file your forms, payments and
other paperwork on time.

Over the next four months there are several key dates
that you dare not forget! Here they are -- all in one place,
along with links to the IRS website PDF file for that
particular form, where appropriate.

NOTE: This article only addresses federal tax deadlines.
Be sure to contact your state's tax department for their
due dates.


Thursday, Jan. 15

If you're pay quarterly estimated income tax payments,
it's time to make the fourth-quarter payment for 2003
via Form 1040-ES.

If you have employees, you must make the federal payroll
tax payment for December 2003 by today (assuming you are
on the monthly deposit schedule).

You use Form 8109 (found in the little yellow coupon
book) or the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System


Monday, Feb. 2


Normally, 4th quarter and year-end payroll tax returns
are due by January 31 of the following year. In 2004,
since January 31 falls on a Saturday, the due date is
extended until the next business day -- Feb. 2.

Here's an overview of the 4 most common federal
payroll-related forms due today:

1. Form W-2 (for your employees)

If you mail the W-2's, the postmark must be on or before
Feb 2, 2004.

You may also be a recipient of a W-2 (if you work as
an employee for someone else), so don't give your
employer a hard time unless the W-2 is postmarked,
or delivered in person, later than Feb. 2.

2. Form 941 (for payroll tax)

3. Form 940 (for unemployment tax)

4. Form 1099-MISC
If you paid any independent contractors at least $600
in 2003, you must send each one a 1099 by Feb.


Tip: if the independent contractor is a corporation,
you usually don't have to issue a 1099. The main purpose
of the 1099 is to track payments to Sole Proprietors,
i.e. unincorporated self-employed people.

Tuesday, Feb. 17
If you have employees, you must make the federal payroll
tax payment for January 2004 by today (assuming you are
on the monthly deposit schedule).

This is another example of the automatic due date extension
rule: if a federal due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday,
or holiday, the due date is extended to the next business
day. (Feb. 15 is a Sunday and Feb. 16 is a holiday.)



Monday, March 1
If you prepared any W-2's or 1099's (mentioned above),
today is the deadline for sending a copy of those
forms to the IRS.

Form W-3 is sent to the IRS, along with Copy A of any
Forms W-2 you issued.

Form 1096 is sent to the IRS, along with Copy A of any
Forms 1099-MISC you issued.

Monday, March 15
Today is a big day if your business is a corporation.

Form 1120 -- the annual corporate income tax return
for regular "C" corporations.

Form 1120S -- the annual corporate income tax return
for "S" corporations.

Form 7004 -- if you can't file Form 1120 or 1120S
by today, here's a tip: just file Form 7004 by
March 15 and you are granted an automatic,
no-questions-asked 6-month extension of time
to file the return (i.e. until Sept. 15, 2004)

Form 2553 -- if you want your corporation to
be treated like an "S" corporation for the
first time, today is the deadline for telling
the IRS that you want to be an "S" corp beginning
with calendar year 2004.

Also, If you have employees, you must make the federal
payroll tax payment for February 2004 by today
(assuming you are on the monthly deposit schedule).


Thursday, April 15
Ah, yes, the most famous tax deadline of all.

Form 1040

And if you are a Sole Proprietor, don't forget that you must
file several business-related tax forms with your Form
1040. The most commonly used tax forms for the self-employed
person include:

Schedule C (to report your business income and expenses)

Schedule SE (for self-employment tax)

Form 4562 (to deduct equipment and other depreciable

Form 8829 (to deduct a home office)

Need more time to prepare your personal tax return?
Go no further than Form 4868, which grants an automatic
no-questions-asked 4-month extension to file the return.

NOTE: this is only an extension of time to file the return,
not an extension to pay any tax due. So if you think
you might owe, it may be wise to estimate what you owe
and send in a payment with Form 4868; otherwise you may
have to pay extra in late payment penalties and interest.

Form 1065
If your business is a Partnership or Limited Liability
Company (LLC), today is also your lucky day to file the
annual business income tax return -- via Form 1065.

Form 8736
To get an automatic 3-month extension of time to file
Form 1065, file Form 8736 on or before April 15.

As if April 15 wasn't already painful enough, it's also
the deadline for the first quarter estimated tax payment
for Year 2004:

Personal -- Form 1040-ES.

Corporate -- Form 1120-W

And if you're an employer, yup, it's time for yet another
monthly federal payroll tax deposit -- for March 2004.

Friday, April 30
Form 941 is due for the 1st quarter 2004.

Form 940 federal unemployment tax deposit is due today,
if your first quarter liability exceeds $100.

Had enough? OK, OK. I'll stop here.

That should get you through the first four months of
the year.

For more tax resourcesFree Articles, here's a few more links:

Looking for a federal tax form?

Looking for a state tax form?

IRS Website for Small Business & the Self-Employed opic/index.html

Tax calendar for the entire Year 2004 axcalendar.html


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