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Navigating the financial landscape of running a small business can be a daunting task, with a myriad of responsibilities that extend far beyond the core operations. Among the crucial aspects that entrepreneurs must grapple with is the question of how much to set aside for taxes. For small business owners, this can be a perplexing endeavor, as it involves not only income tax but also the often-overlooked self-employment tax.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of determining just how much to set aside for taxes small business

We’ll unravel the complexities of income tax and self-employment tax, offering insights and strategies to help business owners strike the right balance between meeting their tax obligations and maintaining the financial health of their enterprises.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just embarking on your business journey, understanding how to manage your tax liabilities effectively is an essential skill. So, let’s dive into the world of small business taxes and uncover the keys to fiscal responsibility in this ever-evolving landscape.

Determining Your Tax Liability

Determining Your Tax Liability

To fulfill your tax responsibilities, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of what they entail. You have obligations at the federal, state, and local levels, encompassing:

The Legal Structure of Your Business?

Before you even start working with your financial spreadsheets, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your business’s legal structure. Whether you’re operating a bookstore or a research consulting firm, the IRS categorizes your business into one of five structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S corporation, or C corporation.

If you find yourself scratching your head, thinking, “Well, I’m not sure,” it’s likely that the IRS has classified your business as a sole proprietorship. If that doesn’t seem accurate to you, take a moment to review the specifics of each business structure for a refresher.

Self Employment tax

A self-employment tax is a financial obligation that self-employed individuals, including freelancers, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors, must fulfill to cover their Social Security and Medicare tax responsibilities.

The self-employment tax is comprised of two main components:

Social Security Tax

This tax is assessed on a portion of your net self-employment income, which is your earnings after deducting business expenses. It goes toward funding Social Security benefits, which provide retirement and disability benefits to eligible individuals.

Medicare Tax

Similar to the Social Security tax, the Medicare tax is applied to your net self-employment income. It funds the Medicare program, which provides healthcare benefits to eligible individuals, primarily those aged 65 and older.

Income Tax

Income tax is a mandatory financial levy imposed by the government on an individual’s, entity’s or business income and profits. It serves as a primary source of revenue for governments at various levels, including federal, state, and local jurisdictions. The income tax system is designed to fund public services, infrastructure, and government programs.

Payroll Tax

It is a type of tax that employers are required to withhold from their employees’ wages and pay to the government on their behalf. Employees pay taxes to help fund various government programs and social insurance systems. It is distinct from income tax, which individuals pay on their overall income, as payroll tax specifically focuses on earnings from employment.

If you decide to bring employees on board, you’ll also need to address employment tax, often referred to as payroll tax.

Regrettably, federal and state taxes constitute just a single component of the overall tax picture. Depending on your business’s nature, you may also find yourself responsible for various state and local taxes. These can include:

Sales Tax: In most states, there’s a requirement to collect sales tax, which is collected at the point of sale.

Franchise Tax: If your business has a sales tax nexus in a particular state, that state may impose a franchise tax on you. The calculation and application of franchise tax, however, can differ significantly from one state to another.

Property Tax: This tax pertains to real estate owned by you or your business and varies from state to state, ranging from 0.28% in Hawaii to 2.38% in New Jersey.

Excise Taxes: Excise taxes, serving as indirect levies on goods sold by a business, sometimes substitute for corporate income or sales tax. The Gross Receipts tax stands as a common example of an excise tax.


Your business’s total income, including revenue and profits, is a key determinant of your tax liability. Generally, higher income levels result in higher tax obligations. Be diligent in tracking your income accurately throughout the year.

Expenses and Deductions

To reduce your taxable income, take advantage of eligible business expenses and deductions. These can include operating expenses, depreciation, employee salaries, and business-related travel costs. Proper record-keeping and documentation are crucial to claim these deductions effectively.

Tax Credits

Investigate potential tax credits available to small businesses in your industry or region. Tax credits can significantly lower your tax liability and can be especially beneficial for startups and businesses in specific sectors.

Miscalculate your Estimated Taxes

What Occurs When you Miscalculate your Estimated Taxes Owed?

In accordance with IRS guidelines, if you pay at least 100% of your previous year’s quarterly estimated taxes in the current year, you won’t face penalties for underpayment, even if that amount ultimately falls short. This provision is commonly referred to as the “safe harbor rule.”

However, for individuals with an income exceeding $150,000, the threshold is higher: you must pay either 110% of the prior year’s income or 90% of the current year’s income to meet the safe harbor requirements.

If you underestimate your quarterly estimated tax payments, you’ll become aware of the shortfall when it’s time to file your tax return. During this process, you’ll tally your annual income, accounting for deductible business expenses and other relevant factors, to determine your total tax liability.

To gauge whether you’ve underpaid and to ascertain the extent of any potential penalties, you can utilize Form 2210 (Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts).

What Is the Approach for Businesses to Reserve Funds for Taxes?

You have the flexibility to decide when and at what intervals to allocate funds for your business’s tax obligations, depending on your specific requirements and business activities. There are three alternatives to consider:


If you are just starting your business, estimating your annual income can be challenging, as you may lack historical financial data to rely on. Additionally, your income might be somewhat unpredictable until your business gains more stability and establishes a track record.

By now, you’ve likely established a dedicated business bank account. When utilizing the payment-based tax savings method, the strategy involves earmarking 30% of the received amount into a designated “tax reserves” business savings account every time a payment is received.

In cases of businesses with substantial sales volumes or frequent payments, setting aside 30% of each individual transaction can become impractical. In such scenarios, it’s more feasible to allocate 30% of your weekly or monthly revenues toward tax obligations.

Expert Tip: If your business regularly receives infrequent yet substantial payments and maintains a strong financial position, you might want to consider settling your taxes on a monthly basis using these accumulated receivables. This proactive approach can help you stay ahead of your tax responsibilities.

Quarterly Payment Options

Quarterly tax payments, also known as quarterly estimated taxes, are a mechanism used by self-employed individuals and small business owners in the United States to fulfill their tax obligations to the IRS and state tax authorities.

Instead of having taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks like traditional employees, these individuals and businesses make quarterly payments on specific due dates, which are typically April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the following year.

These payments encompass estimated quarterly tax payments including federal income tax, self-employment tax (covering Social Security and Medicare contributions for self-employed individuals), and applicable state income tax. The calculation of quarterly payments involves estimating annual income and deductions and dividing the expected tax liability by four.

Notably, failing to make these payments accurately can lead to penalties and interest charges, emphasizing the importance of careful planning and adjustment as income or business situations change throughout the year.

Quarterly tax payments serve as a method for self-employed individuals and small businesses to manage their tax responsibilities progressively throughout the year. This approach prevents the accumulation of a large tax burden at the end of the year and minimizes the risk of underpayment penalties.

To ensure precise calculations and adherence to tax regulations, many individuals and businesses seek assistance from tax professionals or utilize tax software for effective quarterly tax planning and payment estimation.

Yearly Payment Option

If you’ve previously filed your business taxes and anticipate minimal changes in your income, you can adopt the Annual or Yearly Payment approach to manage your tax savings.

To implement the annual/yearly tax savings approach you must utilize the total business income from your last year’s tax return and divide it by four. Then, calculate 30% of that figure. This resulting amount represents the funds you’ll need to set aside and allocate for your quarterly estimated tax payments.

For instance, if your earnings amounted to $175,000 in the previous year, and you expect your income to remain relatively consistent this year, divide that figure by four.

In this case, $175,000 divided by four equals $43,750. Calculating 30% of $43,750 yields $13,125 – this sum should cover your quarterly tax obligations. To prepare for your tax bill, allocate approximately $3,300 each month.

Tax Season Stress

Say Goodbye to Tax Season Stress

Managing the tax obligations of a small business is a multifaceted challenge that requires careful consideration and planning. Small business owners must grapple with various types of taxes, including income tax, self-employment tax, payroll tax, and state and local taxes. Understanding the specific tax obligations associated with your business structure and location is crucial to maintaining financial stability and compliance with tax laws.

As an entrepreneur, mastering tax management is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Discover the ease of Vyde, where our expert accountants take the reins on your tax duties. Experience a seamless tax season as we handle your taxes, offer professional guidance, and ensure you’re saving as much as possible throughout the year. Vyde is your comprehensive tax partner, offering:

  • Tailored bookkeeping that turns numbers into insights.
  • Effortless business tax returns at no additional cost.
  • Strategic tax planning for substantial savings.
  • Full IRS compliance support for ultimate confidence.
  • Streamlined online tools for easy tax management and communication.
  • Maximum deductions to keep more in your pocket.

Join Vyde and transform your tax experience from a chore into an opportunity. Let’s make this tax season the smoothest one yet!


Download our tax savings guide for small businesses today!