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Corporate Income Tax in the US and Tips for Reducing Your Taxes in 2024

You’re signing off on a hefty tax payment, your hard-earned dollars flying out the window, and you can’t help but wonder, “Who on Earth came up with this brilliant idea for businesses to pay corporate taxes?” Picture hopping into a time machine that takes you to 1861 (when the U.S. government introduced federal income taxes). You zoom in to give those folks a piece of your mind and maybe—just maybe—convincingly suggest a world where businesses only had to worry about making more money. Imagine that conversation, armed with your best “Seriously, what are you all thinking?!” look. If only! But since time travel is a bit out of reach (unfortunately!), let’s arm you with information that can help you escape high tax burdens. 


Today, we are discussing corporate income taxes in 2024. Grab a popcorn and enjoy the ride!


What is the Corporate Income Tax? 


In the U.S., the government asks companies to pay a special kind of tax called Corporate Income Tax. This tax is like a bill businesses must pay on the money they earn. First, a business calculates its income. Then, it subtracts all the money it spends on making products, paying employees, and other operational costs. What’s left is called the taxable income, and that’s what the corporate income tax is based on. 


History of the Corporate Income Tax 


The year is 1909, when cars were rare, and the internet was, well, not even a wild dream. In a bold move, the U.S. government decided that businesses, just like individuals, should chip in to fill the nation’s piggy bank. That’s right—the corporate income tax was born, a kind of “birthday” for business taxes, if you will.


Fast-forward through time, and the corporate tax journey gets a bit like a rollercoaster ride. Imagine climbing to a breathtaking height of 53% in 1942—yep, businesses handed over more than half of their income during wartime. But as the years passed, this rate slid, reaching a more comfy spot at 38% in 1993. And there it stayed, snug and stable, until 2018 (more on this later). 


Why did the government start this? Think of it as their way to ensure everyone played a part in funding big projects and services, from building roads to keeping the country safe. Before this, Uncle Sam mainly relied on tariffs (taxes on imported goods) and excise taxes (taxes on specific products like tobacco). But as the U.S. grew, so did its needs and expenses. The corporate income tax was like adding another tool to the toolbox, helping to tackle those bigger bills.


What is the Corporate Income Tax Rate in the U.S. in 2024? 


In 2017, a big change happened: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, making the federal corporate tax rate a flat 21%. Before this law, companies could be taxed up to 35% of their profits. That’s a pretty significant drop, right?


Businesses have until April 15th to file their taxes. They can request a six-month extension to file in September if they need more time. Businesses must also keep up with installment payments for estimated taxes four times a year: in the middle of April, June, September, and December.


Each corporation reports its earnings and taxes by filling out a Form 1120. A company must file this form online if it is a big player with over $10 million in assets. Oh, and depending on where in the U.S. a company is based, state corporate income tax rates can add more to its tax bill, with rates varying widely from state to state.


Corporate Income Tax and Double Taxation 


Diving into the world of corporate taxes, there’s a twist called Double Taxation. So, let’s say a business makes some profit. First, the business itself pays taxes on that profit. Then, when the remaining profit is given to the people who own shares in the company, they also have to pay taxes on it again when they receive it as dividends. It’s like being asked to pay for a burger at the counter and then paying again when you take a bite! However, there’s a workaround. A company can choose to be an S corporation, which is like saying, “Let’s skip the double-dipping.” With an S corporation, a company doesn’t pay taxes directly. Instead, the money flows to the owners, who pay the taxes through their personal returns, simplifying the process and avoiding that extra tax bite.


What is a Corporate Tax Deduction?


Corporate tax deductions are like the coupons of the business world. Think of it this way: when a company spends money on things it needs to run smoothly, like paying its team or buying ads, it gets to use those expenses as a discount on its tax bill. It’s like saying, “Hey, I spent this much on keeping my business awesome, so I should get a tax break.”


These discounts can cover many things: salaries, employee health benefits, and even the money spent on advertising. If a business travels, pays for insurance, or even faces bad debts, these can also lower the amount it owes in taxes. So, every time a company spends money on necessary business stuff, it’s saving up for a big sale day when taxes are due!


Are there any Corporate Tax Advantages? 


Believe it or not, paying corporate taxes isn’t all doom and gloom! There are some silver linings for businesses that can actually make the tax bill a bit easier to swallow. First off, corporations get to count things like family health insurance and cool extras (think retirement plans and trusts that don’t get taxed right away) as business expenses. This means they can reduce their taxable income by the cost of these benefits.


Also, when a business hits a rough patch and loses money, corporations have an easier time using those losses to lower their taxes. Unlike individual business owners, who have to prove they’re trying to make a profit to deduct their losses, corporations can just subtract the whole loss, no questions asked.


And here’s the cherry on top: corporations can keep their profits in the business, planning out the best way to use that money in a way that could lead to paying less tax in the future. 


Parting Note


At the risk of sounding like a parent offering unsolicited advice, we have one last tip for you. So, here goes: 


  • Understanding corporate income tax is essential for business planning and operations. 
  • Staying informed about current rates, legislation changes, and strategic tax planning can significantly impact a corporation’s financial health. 
  • In fact, if you are not taking advantage of strategic tax planning, you are basically handing out free money. 


Would it be such a crazy idea to spend money you can legally keep on vacationing in Ibiza? It is so much better than handing it over to the IRS, right? If you agree, let’s help you kick-start your tax-saving journey. 

Get started with a FREE 30-minute consultation HERE.

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