Small business tax preparation checklist

Get your documents ready.

The tax experts at Block Advisors, a part of H&R Block, will help you understand your small business’s taxes, starting with a small business tax preparation checklist for 2021.

Are you a team of one? You’ve come to the right place — you can also use this as a self-employed tax checklist.

Self-Employed

Being self-employed, a sole proprietorship or independent contractor is considered the easiest business type to run and is the default tax entity for those who work for themselves.

Partnerships

There are many types of partnerships businesses can enter into. Usually, all partners share in the liabilities and profits. Partnerships are generally inexpensive and simple to set up.

S-Corps

S Corporations pass deductions, corporate income, losses, and credits to shareholders for federal tax reasons. These shareholders report the income and losses on their own returns.

C-Corps

C Corporations are structured so that the owners pay tax on the salaries and dividends they receive from the corporation on their individual returns at the appropriate tax rates.

General checklist and self-employed

Income Items

Be sure to include all income sources when creating your small business checklist. This could include income from your day-to-day operations as well as any investment or secondary income.

Gross receipts from sales or services

Sales records for accrual-based taxpayers (accounts receivable)

Returns and allowances

Business checking/savings account interest (1099-INT or statement)

1099-NEC (independent contractor or professional services work) or W-2 income

Other income, including rental income, federal and state gasoline or fuel tax credit or refund

Costs of goods sold

Some categories may not apply each tax season, so you should only include what applies for 2021 on your small business tax checklist. If you produce, purchase, or sell merchandise in your trade or business, you’ll need to take your inventory into account at the beginning and end of the year.

Beginning inventory total dollar amount

Inventory purchases

Ending inventory total dollar amount

Items removed for personal purposes

Materials and supplies

Expenses

A wide range of costs can fall under applicable business expenses. Don’t miss recording any of these on your small business tax preparation checklist. Our tax pros will help you find each and every deduction you deserve.

Advertising

Phones (landline, fax or cell phones related to business)

Computer & internet expenses

Transportation and travel expenses

  • Local transportation: Did you take any business trips this year? You’ll want to include your mileage along with any car and truck expenses (from app-based mileage trackers like Everlance). For public transportation, parking and tolls, you should include your contemporaneous log (recording of transactions as they happen) or receipts.
  • Travel away from home: You should account for actual expenses if you drove — or airfare for any flights. There are helpful app-based trackers (Everlance is a great one) available so you can keep up while you’re on the go. Be sure to include costs for hotels; meals and tips; and taxi fares and tips. Remember to include any miscellaneous expenses, such as your internet access (hotel, internet café, etc.).

Commissions and fees

Contract labor expenses paid to subcontractors and independent contractors

Depreciation

  • Cost and first date of business use of assets
  • Records relating to personal use of assets
  • Sales price and siposition date of any assets sold
  • Documentation of prior-year depreciation

Amortization of intangible assets (e.g., patents or copyrights held)

Business insurance

  • Casualty loss insurance
  • Errors and omissions
  • Other

Interest expense

  • Mortgage interest on building owned by business
  • Business loan interest
  • Investment expense and interest

Professional fees

  • Lawyers, accountants, and consultants
  • Tax preparers

Office supplies

  • Pens, paper, staples, and other consumables

Rent expense

  • Office space rent
  • Business-use vehicle lease expense
  • Other

Office-in-home

  • Square footage of office space
  • Total square footage of home
  • Hours of use, if operating an in-home daycare
  • Mortgage interest or rent paid
  • Homeowner’s or renters’ insurance
  • Utilities
  • Cost of home, cost of separate improvements and first date of business use

Wages paid to employees

Employee benefit expenses

Other expenses

  • Repairs, maintenance of office facility, etc.
  • Estimated tax payments made (including property taxes and sales taxes if applicable)
  • Other business-related expenses
  • Health insurance: Whether you’re a sole-proprietor who is covering their family, a partner or you have S corporation shareholders, you’ll want to account for premiums paid on behalf of those individuals. Also, you should gather information on your spouse’s employer provided insurance if applicable.

Information about 2021 COVID-19 related grants, economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs), or paycheck protection program (PPP) loans. See CARES Act tax information for Small Businesses.

Advance payment notices

Stimulus (Economic Income Payments) recipients: look for IRS Letter 6475. Review details about IRS Letter 6475.

Advance Child Tax Credit payment recipients: look for IRS Letter 6419. Review details about IRS Letter 6419.

Tasks that should be completed

Make sure you’ve completed all related tax issues such as:

File Form 1099-NEC and Form 1096

File Form W-2 and Form W-3

File federal and state payroll returns (Form 940, 941)

Other items

Make sure you’ve gathered related information such as:

Any financial statements generated by the business such as a balance sheet, profit/loss statement or cash flow statement

Completed year-end books

Information regarding any charitable contributions

Information regarding NOLs


Partnerships—Form 1065

Documents

Copy of the partnership agreement with any amendments and bylaws

  • If an LLC taxed as a partnership, copies of the LLC operating agreement and articles of organization

List of federal and state tax employer identification numbers (EINs)

Last year’s Form 1065 and Schedules K-1 and any state or local returns

Partner information

Name, address and SSN/EIN of each partner during the year

Each partner’s ownership percentage including their profit and loss percentage if different

Information regarding capital contributions, distributions or other financial transactions involving a partner

Information regarding:

  • each partner’s share of liabilities
  • guaranteed payments made to any partner
  • any insurance plan provided to any partner
  • any liquidating payments made to any partner
  • any change in ownership percentages including the addition or loss of partners


S Corporations—Form 1120S

Documents

IRS acceptance letter of S election or previously filed Form 2553

A copy of the business’ bylaws and articles of incorporation

  • If an LLC taxed as an S corporation, copies of the LLC articles of organization and operating agreement

List of federal and state employer identification numbers (EINs)

If the corporation used to be a C corporation, any information carried over after converting to an S corporation

Last year’s Form 1120S and Schedules K-1 and any state or local returns

Shareholder information

Name, address and SSN/EIN of all shareholders during the year

The number of shares that each shareholder owns

Information regarding any:

  • capital contributions, distributions or loans to shareholders.
  • reasonable compensation paid to any employee/shareholder
  • insurance plan provided to any shareholder
  • changes in ownership throughout the year


C Corporations—Form 1120

Documents and other information

Articles of Incorporation and bylaws

  • If an LLC taxed as a C corporation, copies of the articles of organization and operating agreement

Form 8832 if the entity has chosen to be taxed as a C corporation using the check-the-box regulations

List of federal and state employer identification numbers (EINs)

Any granted credit certificates

Last year’s Form 1120 including any schedules of carryover losses, deductions or credits from prior years and any state or local returns

Information regarding any dividends received

Information regarding the corporation’s accumulated earnings account

Information regarding any business reorganization or change in ownership that happened during the year

Shareholder information

Information about any shareholder owning 20% or more of the company’s stock

Information regarding the number of shares outstanding

Information regarding any distributions of cash or property to shareholders


Additional items for your small business checklist

Make sure you’ve completed all related tax issues such as:

File Form 1099-NEC and Form 1096

File Form W-2 and Form W-3

File federal and state payroll returns (Form 940, 941)

How Block Advisors can help your business.

Maximize your tax outcome

Our tax pros help grow your bottom line and put money back in your pocket by finding every available credit and deduction relevant to your industry.

Affordable expertise, year-round

Get personalized human help rightsized to where you are and where you want to go — for up to 30% less than the cost of a typical accountant.

Specialized in small business

Our small business certified tax pros have an average of 12 years of experience and undergo annual Block Advisors training to specialize in small businesses.

100% Accuracy Guarantee

We guarantee 100% accuracy on your taxes, bookkeeping and payroll and will reimburse you for penalties and interest if we make an error on your return.

† Savings claim based on (1) national average fees for Federal Form 1040 plus Schedule C and one state filing, and (2) national average of accountant hourly fees in 2020 for “Quickbooks or bookkeeping advisory services” ($109), in each case in the latest available 2020 survey conducted by the National Society of Accountants. Pricing will vary based on individual circumstances.

  1. We do not provide legal advice. The choice of entity for a small business is an important decision, and taxes and other financial considerations are only some of many factors to consider. The information on this site is not intended to be legal advice or specific to any situation. We recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney about the implications of entity selection.