Business income is income received from the sale of products or services. For example, fees received by a professional person are considered business income. Rents received by a person in the real estate business are business income. Payments received in the form of property or services must be included in income at their fair market value.
Normally a business is organized as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by an individual. A sole proprietorship has no existence apart from its owner. Business debts are personal debts of the owner. A limited liability company (LLC) with one individual owner generally is treated as a sole proprietorship for federal income tax purposes, unless the owner elects to treat the LLC as a corporation. A sole proprietor files Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), or Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ (PDF), (with Form 1040), to report the income and expenses of the business. A sole proprietor who had net earnings (from Schedule C or C-EZ excluding church employee income) of $400 or more or had church employee income of $108.28 or more must file Form 1040, Schedule SE (PDF). Schedule SE is used to figure self-employment tax, which is the combined social security and Medicare tax on self-employment income. For more information on sole proprietorships, refer to Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business.
A partnership is an unincorporated business organization that is the result of two or more persons joining together to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, services, or a combination thereof, in return for a right to share in the profits and losses of the partnership. An LLC with more than one owner is generally treated as a partnership for tax purposes. A partnership's income and expenses are generally reported on Form 1065 (PDF), U. S. Return of Partnership Income, annually. No income tax is paid by the partnership itself. Each partner receives a Form 1065, Schedule K-1 (PDF), Partner's Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc., which indicates the partner's distributive share of partnership income, expenses, and other items, determined in accordance with the terms of the partnership agreement. Partners report on their income tax returns the amounts reported on the Schedule K-1. For more information, refer to the Form 1065 Instructions. For more information on partnerships, in general, refer to Publication 541, Partnerships.
The term "corporation," for federal income tax purposes, generally includes legal entities separate from the people who formed them under federal or state law or the shareholders who own them. It also includes certain businesses that elect to be taxed as a corporation by filing Form 8832 (PDF), Entity Classification Election. The tax on a corporation's income is figured on Form 1120 (PDF), U. S. Corporation Income Tax Return. For more information on corporations in general, refer to Publication 542, Corporations. Corporations that meet certain requirements may elect to become S corporations, which are treated in a manner similar to partnerships. An S corporation files Form 1120S (PDF), U. S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, and is generally not subject to tax. Most income and expenses of an S corporation are "passed through" to the shareholders on Form 1120S, Schedule K-1 (PDF), Shareholder's Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc. The shareholders report on their income tax returns the amounts indicated on the Schedules K-1. For more information on S corporations, refer to the Form 1120S Instructions.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: April 01, 2013