Friday, February 3, 2023
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Friday, February 3, 2023
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USA Corporate Tax: Corporate Income Tax in the US and the Tax Returns

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All entities that are treated as corporations are subject to THE USA corporate tax at the federal level.

47 states and the District of Columbia also impose this tax. Some localities also impose an income tax on corporate income. All domestic corporations are subject to the USA corporate income tax, as well as foreign corporations with income or activities in the area.

Corporations that do not qualify as S Corporations are called C corporations.

Federal purposes treat any entity that is treated as a corporation and organized under the laws in any state, as a domestic corporation. State purposes treat entities that are organized in a state as domestic and those that are organized outside of that state as foreign.

S corporations, mutual funds, and other types of corporations are all exempt from tax. S corporations, mutual funds, etc. are not subject to the USA corporate tax. However, their shareholders pay tax on the income of the corporation as it is recognized.

USA Corporate Tax: Territorial Taxation

Public Law (P.L.) 22 December 2017: The US tax reform legislation (Public Law (P.L.). The US tax reform legislation was enacted on 22 December 2017 (Public Law (P.L.) 115-97). This changed the law of worldwide’ to that of territorial taxes” in the US. The amended law imposes tax only on income earned within the country, regardless of where the taxpayer resides.

This system was designed to eliminate the need for complex rules like the Subpart F rules or controlled foreign corporation rules, and the passive foreign investment company (PFIC), rules that subject foreign earnings in certain circumstances to current U.S taxation.

Hence, P.L. 115-97 permanently reduced the 35% CIT tax on resident corporations to a flat rate of 21% for tax years starting after 31 December 2017. The net taxable income of a corporation is the basis for the USA corporate income tax. This can be either federally or state-specific.

A corporation’s taxable income is generally its gross income, which includes business and possibly non-business receipts, less the cost of goods sold), less any allowable tax deductions. Some income and certain corporations are exempt from tax.


Corporations can choose their tax year. A tax year must generally be 12 months long or 52/53 weeks in length. The tax year does not have to be the same as the financial reporting year. It also doesn’t need to coincide with the calendar year if books are kept for the chosen tax year. The Internal Revenue Service may need to consent for corporations to change their tax years. The federal tax year is used for most state income taxes.

USA Corporate Tax: Groups of Companies

A group of companies can file one return for each member of a controlled or unitary group. This is known as consolidated returns at the federal level. Some states allow or require them to do so. The consolidated returns report the combined taxable incomes of all members and calculate a combined tax.

Transfer pricing rules apply to parties who do not file a combined return in a particular jurisdiction. These rules allow tax authorities to adjust prices between related parties.

Between 2000 and 2005, the average effective USA corporate tax rate in OECD countries was 5%. The corporate taxes/corporate surplus equals the effective tax rate.

US Corporate Tax: Shareholders Taxation

When corporate earnings are distributed, shareholders of corporations are subject either to an individual or corporate income tax. Corporation shareholders are subject to separate tax upon distributions of corporate earnings or profits as dividends.

Dividends received from other corporations could be subject to reduced tax rates or exempted from taxation if the dividends earned deduction applies.

Dividends have lower tax rates than ordinary income, but both corporate shareholders and individual shareholders are subject to the same taxes. This is commonly referred to simply as a dividend. Dividends that are received by individuals, if it is a “qualified dividend”, are subject to a lower tax rate.

Certain non-routine distributions are exempted from shareholder taxation, such as distributions made in liquidation of an 80 percent subsidiary or partial termination of shareholder interest.

A corporation must pay tax on any gains in value if it makes a distribution in non-cash form.

The United States doesn’t generally require withholding taxes on dividend payments to shareholders.

Withholding tax may be required for shareholders who are not citizens or residents of the United States, corporations, or under certain other circumstances.

To ensure shareholders pay dividend tax, there may be two withholding tax provisions: withholding tax for foreign shareholders and backup withholding for certain domestic shareholders.

USA Corporate Tax: Tax Credits

Like other businesses, corporations may be eligible to receive tax credits that reduce income tax at the federal, state, or local levels. The federal foreign tax credit is the largest by dollar volume. All taxpayers are eligible for this credit for income taxes paid abroad. This credit can only be used for the federal income tax that is less than what is generated from foreign source taxable income.

This credit was created to reduce the taxation of income from the same taxpayer by multiple countries

It has been part of the U.S. system since 1918. Credits for certain wage payments, credits to invest in certain types of assets, including motor vehicles, credits that allow for alternative fuels, off-highway vehicle use, and natural resource-related credit, are just a few of the other credits. You can see the Research & Experimentation Tax Credit.

USA Corporate Tax: Deferral of Taxes

The main feature of the global tax system is deferral, which allows multinational U.S. companies to delay paying taxes on their foreign profits. Companies are not required to pay U.S. taxes on foreign subsidiaries’ profits. This is true for many years and even up to the time that the earnings are returned to America. It was one reason that U.S. corporations paid lower taxes, despite the fact that the USA corporate tax rate was 35 percent. However, the USA corporate tax rate has been flattened to 21% since January 1, 2018.

American companies can defer capital costs to increase their capital cost relative to foreign-based counterparts.


This is especially valuable for U.S. companies with global operations, particularly those with low-tax income. The use of subsidiaries in tax haven countries by some of the most successful and profitable U.S. companies results in them paying extremely low taxes. According to the Government Accountability Office, 83 percent of America’s 100 largest public companies have subsidiaries located in countries classified as financial privacy jurisdictions or tax-havens.

USA Corporate Tax: Filling the Tax Returns

All U.S. jurisdictions that impose an income tax must have corporations file tax returns. These returns are self-assessment tax returns. The USA corporate income tax is payable at the federal and state levels in advance installments or estimated payments.

Corporations could be subject to tax withholding obligations when they make certain types of payments to other people, such as wages or distributions that are treated as dividends. Although these obligations do not generally affect the corporation’s tax, the system could impose penalties on the corporation and its officers or employees if they fail to withhold or pay over these taxes.

For different types of corporations or corporations involved in specialized business activities, there are different tax returns that must be filed at both the federal and state levels.

The basic Form 1120 is available in 13 variations for S corporations, insurance corporations, Domestic International Sales Corporations, foreign companies, and other entities. Each type of form has its own structure and embedded schedules.

Many state corporate tax returns include significant embedded or attached Schedules that relate to features of the state tax system which differ from the federal.

The USA corporate tax returns must include both the computation of taxable income and reconciliation of taxable earnings to financial statement income.

For corporations with assets over $10 million, a detailed reconciliation of Schedule M-3[30] must be completed. This will indicate which differences are permanent (i.e. do not reverse such as tax-exempt interest or disallowed expenses) and which differences are temporary (e.g. differences in the recognition of income or expense for tax and book purposes).

Non-simple corporate tax returns are often time-consuming to prepare.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service reports that Form 1120-S is required for private companies who elect flow-through status. This average time takes over 56 hours.

USA corporate tax returns are due for most types of corporations by the 15th of the third month after the tax year (March 15, for calendar years).

As additional information, the Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the name given to the US company number that the tax administration uses.

Having an understanding of tax in e USA will be beneficial for setting up your finance accordingly, and filling the returns in time. At the same time be aware of late filing of or non-filing the USA corporate tax returns, penalties may be applied at both the state and federal levels.


If you found this article helpful, please go to the rest of the website for more information on financial topics in the USA and International.

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