Filing and paying taxes may not be as much fun as marketing your business or closing a big sale—but these tasks are just as necessary. Rather than avoiding tax preparation for your small business, view it as an opportunity to get a better handle on your business finances, and find new ways to save through tax deductions and credits.

With these four best practices, you can help make sure your small business taxes are filed correctly and completely, so you can move forward toward meeting your other small business goals for the year.

Organize your business documents.

You will need receipts to support any deductions you plan to take. For instance, if you plan to deduct catering costs for your monthly staff lunches, make sure you’ve kept the receipts from the caterer. As you collect receipts throughout the year, consider keeping a physical file in your office where you can quickly throw them—and also scanning them to store in a secure digital copy.

Along with receipts, you’ll also need records of quarterly taxes paid, quarterly filings and payroll records. If you use a cloud-based accounting system, you can quickly track all this information and share it digitally with your tax provider.

Don’t overlook tax deductions and credits.

There are a number of tax deductions and credits available to help businesses reduce the amount of tax they’re required to pay. Make sure to take the ones for which your business qualifies.

Some standard small business deductions include:

  • Home office deduction
  • Car and truck expenses
  • Travel and meals
  • Legal and professional fees
  • Leases on machinery and equipment
  • Interest on business debt

If your business has purchased business equipment during the previous tax year, you may qualify for the Section 179 deduction. This allows you to deduct the full price of the equipment in the year you purchased it, even if you’ll be paying for it over several years.

It’s best to keep business and personal expenses separate—but if you have used personal funds to cover any business expenses during the year, be sure to include those in your deductible business expenses if they apply.

Determine which form and deadlines apply to your business.

The forms[1] you need to file will depend on your business structure. For example, C-corporations must file a Form 1120, and S-corporations must file a Form 1120S. According to IRS rules, Form 1120 must be filed by the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the tax year, which for most taxpayers is April 15. (If your business follows a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year, your filing deadline may be different.) S-corporations must file Form 1120S by the 15th day of the third month following the close of the tax year, which for most taxpayers is March 15.  

If your business is a sole proprietorship or an LLC, the business income passes through to the owner’s individual tax return. So instead of filing a separate business tax return, you will file a Schedule C with your personal tax return. It’s due by April 15.

There is an opportunity to extend the deadline if you need to. The IRS allows individuals and businesses to file for a six-month extension to complete their returns. However, if you’re taking that route, you’ll need to file for the extension by the original deadline. And even though you get six extra months to file your return, any taxes owed are still due by the original deadline—if you wait to pay them, you’ll also have to pay late penalties.

Get outside help when filing your taxes.

Filing your business tax return correctly and on time is vitally important—and since most business owners are busy running their businesses, it’s a task best left to a tax professional.

Most small businesses don’t have staff accountants, so consider outsourcing to a local CPA or Enrolled Agent (EA). It’s a good idea to look for a tax professional who has experience working with companies in your industry and of your size, as they will be more familiar with the types of deductions, credits, and other issues that may apply to your business.

Take time to implement these best practices, so you’ll be prepared to file taxes this year and every year, allowing you more time to focus on building your business.  

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