Question: Must a partnership or corporation file a tax return even though it had no income for the year?
Partnerships and corporations have different standards for filing an income tax return.
- A domestic partnership must file an information return, unless it neither receives gross income nor pays or incurs any amount treated as a deduction or credit for federal tax purposes.
- A foreign partnership generally must file an information return if:
- it has gross income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States,
- it has gross income derived from sources in the United States, or
- it or its U.S. partner is making an election, such as an election to amortize organization expenses.
Refer to the Instructions for Form 1065 (.pdf), U.S. Return of Partnership Income, for exceptions to filing requirements.
- A domestic corporation (including a Subchapter S corporation) must file an income tax return whether it has taxable income or not.
- A foreign corporation generally must file an income tax return if it:
- engages in a trade or business in the United States, even if it has no income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States during the taxable year,
- has income, gains or losses treated as if effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business and subject to taxation under subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code (relating to income taxes), or
- does not engage in a trade or business in the United States at any time during the taxable year but has U.S. source income, and the withholding at source under Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code did not fully satisfy its taxation.
Refer to the Instructions for Form 1120-F (.pdf), U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation, for other reasons a foreign corporation may file a return and exceptions to filing requirements.
- Publication 542, Corporations
- Instructions for Form 1120S (.pdf), U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation
- Publication 541, Partnerships
- Instructions for Form 1120 (.pdf), U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return
Category: Small Business, Self-Employed, Other Business
Subcategory: Entities: Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Company/Partnership (LLC/LLP), Corporation, Subchapter S Corporation