IRS Offers Advice on Filing Corporate Tax Forms

IRS Offers Advice on Filing Corporate Tax Form
Headliner #112
March 2, 2005
Corporate Tax Forms

A corporate taxpayer must file the type of corporate return appropriate for the type of business the corporation operates.  Here is a brief description of some of the different types of returns corporations must file, starting with the most common types of corporations.

"C" Corporations
All domestic corporations (including corporations in bankruptcy) must file income tax returns whether or not they have taxable income, unless the corporation is exempt under section 501. Section 501 exempts nonprofit groups organized for charitable or mutual benefit purposes from income tax.  Domestic corporations must file Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return or, if they qualify, Form 1120-A, U.S. Corporation Short-Form Income Tax Return, unless required to file a special return (see Special Returns for Organizations below).

"S" Corporation
Generally, an S corporation does not pay income tax; rather its income, deductions and credits are passed through to its shareholders.  A corporation must file Form 1120S, US Income Tax Return for An S Corporation if (a) it elected to be an S corporation by filing Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, (b) the IRS accepted the election, and (c) the election remains in effect. Do not file Form 1120S, US Income Tax Return for An S Corporation for any tax year before the year the election takes effect.

Limited Liability Companies
Unless a multiple member LLC elects otherwise, if an entity was formed as a limited liability company (LLC) under state law, it is treated as a partnership for Federal income tax purposes and files Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income. The multiple member LLC can file a Form 1120 or 1120-A only if it has filed Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, to elect to be treated as an association taxable as a corporation.

Unless a single member LLC elects otherwise, and the single the member is an individual, the LLCs income and expenses are reported on Form 1040, Schedule C, Schedule E, or Schedule F.   If the single member of the LLCs is a corporation, the LLC income and expenses are reported on the corporation's return, usually the Form 1120, US Corporation Income Tax Return or Form 1120S, US Income Tax Return for an S Corporation.  The single member LLC can file using a Form 1120 or 1120S (where a proper S election has been made by the LLC) only if it has filed Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, to elect to be treated as an association taxable as a corporation.

Pub. 3402, Tax Issues for Limited Liability Companies has more information about LLCs.

Other Corporate Returns

Farming (other than section 1381 cooperatives) 
Any corporation that engages in farming should use Form 1120 or, if they qualify, Form 1120-A to report the income (loss) from such activities. Enter the deductions of the corporation in accordance with the Instructions for Forms 1120 and 1120A for lines 1 through 10 and 12 through 29.

Foreign Corporation
Unless one of the exceptions under Exceptions from Filing applies or a special return is required, a foreign corporation must file Form 1120-F if, during the tax year, the corporation meets certain criteria (see Instructions for Form 1120F for more information).

Foreign Sales Corporation
File Form 1120-FSC if the corporation elected to be treated as a FSC and the election is still in effect.  See Instructions for Form 1120-FSC for additional information

Homeowners Associations
A homeowners association may elect to take advantage of the certain tax benefits provided by section 528 of the Internal Revenue Code by filing the Form 1120-H US Income Tax Return For Homeowners Associations as its income tax return.  See Form 1120-H for further information on the tax benefits available under the election and for the requirements of the election.

Interest Charge  Domestic International Sales Corporation (DISC)
An IC-DISC must file Form 1120-IC-DISC if it elected to be treated as an IC-DISC and its election is in effect for the tax year.  The corporation makes the IC-DISC election by filing Form 4876-A, Election To Be Treated as an IC DISC.  If the corporation is a former DISC or IC-DISC, it must file Form 1120-IC-DISC in addition to any other return for the tax year.  Further information is in the Instructions to Form 1120-IC-DISC.

Life Insurance Company
Every domestic life insurance company and every foreign corporation that would qualify as a life insurance company if it were a U.S. corporation must file Form 1120-L to compute and report the taxable income of a Life Insurance company. This includes organizations described in section 501(m) (1) that provide commercial-type life insurance.  See Instructions for Form 1120-L for additional information.

Certain Political Organizations
A political organization, whether or not it is tax-exempt, must file Form 1120-POL  if it has any political organization taxable income. An exempt organization that is not a political organization must file Form 1120-POL if it is treated as having political organization taxable income under IRC section 527(f) (1).  See the instructions attached to Form 1120-POL  for more information.

Property and Casualty Insurance Company
Every domestic non-life insurance company and every foreign corporation that would qualify as a non-life insurance company subject to taxation under IRC section 831, if it were a US corporation, must file Form 1120-PC. This includes organizations described in section 501(m) (1) that provide commercial-type insurance and organizations described in section 833.  See Instructions for Form 1120-PC for specific exceptions.  

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
A corporation, trust, or association that meets certain conditions must file Form 1120-REIT if it elects to be treated as REIT for the tax year (or has made that election for a prior tax year and the election has not been terminated or revoked). The election is made by figuring taxable income as a REIT on Form 1120-REIT.  Additional information is available in the Instructions for Form 1120-REIT.

Regulated Investment Companies (RIC)
A domestic corporation that elects to be treated as a RIC for the tax year (or has made an election for a prior tax year) and meets certain requirements must file Form 1120-RIC. Information on the election, filing requirements, and computation of taxable income is found in the Instructions for Form 1120-RIC.
 
Settlement Funds (Under Section 468B)
All section 468B designated and qualified settlement funds must file an annual tax return.  See Form 1120-SF and the Instructions for Form 1120-SF for more information.

Short-Form
Form 1120-A U.S Corporation Short-Form Income Tax Return may be filed by a corporation if it meets all of the requirements identified as qualifying to do so.  These requirements criteria can be found in the Instructions for Form1120/1120-A 

Special Returns for Certain Organizations
Instead of filing Form 1120 or Form 1120-A, certain organizations, as shown below, have to file special returns.

If the organization is a:

  • Entity that elects to be treated as a real estate mortgage investment conduit REMIC and meets IRC section 860D(a) requirements: File Form -- 1066     Instructions --1066 Inst
  • Exempt organization with unrelated trade or business income of $1,000 or more: File Form --990-T     Instructions --990-T Inst
  • Farmers Cooperative: File Form -- 990-C     Instructions -- 990-C Inst
  • Fund set up for Nuclear Decommissioning costs: File Form -- 1120-ND     Instructions -- 1120-ND Inst
  • Religious or apostolic organization exempt under section 501(d): File Form -- 1065     Instructions -- 1065 Inst

Amended Returns
Use Form 1120X, Amended U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return to:

  • Correct the Form 1120 or Form 1120A as originally filed, or as later adjusted by an amended return, a claim for refund, or an examination.
  • Make certain elections after the prescribed deadline (see Regulations section 301.9100-1 through 3)

Tax forms are available on the IRS Web site.