Roadmap of small business tax deadlines

Headshot for Amanda Graber, Content Marketing Specialist for ComplYant, a business tax tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
By Mandy Graber

Unlike a video game, running your business probably didn’t start with a simple tutorial. You didn't get a simple breakdown of all information you’d need to succeed. And you definitely didn't get unlimited attempts at your goal. Instead, you probably needed to rely on mentors or your own research and experience. It might have taken some trial and error to find what worked best for your business.

Unfortunately, navigating business taxes isn’t easy either. Business licenses, permits, and of course, tax deadlines don’t leave much room for customizing options to suit your needs. Making mistakes can have tangible consequences. Many business owners would benefit from help finding their way through the deadlines.

Types of tax deadlines

Business owners should know that tax deadlines can be sorted into a few different categories. While not every deadline in every category will apply, it’s good to have a general knowledge of the taxes and filings that can affect a business. 

Federal business tax return deadlines 

Of course, the primary concern for many business owners is federal tax deadlines. Missing these dates can mean hefty fines and interest on late payments. As the name implies, these taxes are remitted to the federal government via the IRS. 

Business tax extension deadlines 

If caught unprepared, these forms can be a lifeline for businesses and entrepreneurs who need more time to file their federal returns. There is one important thing to note: An extension doesn’t provide more time to pay. When someone files an extension, the time to file the return is extended, but the money owed for the tax bill is still due. Those who can’t pay a tax bill have some other options, such as the IRS's installment plans.

Estimated tax payment deadlines 

Estimated tax payments refer to filings and quarterly payments to offset a business or individual’s federal tax obligation for the year. They apply to S-corporations and C-corporations that expect to owe more than $500 in taxes annually. Individuals and other businesses that will owe more than $1000 within a year must also make these payments. 

Employment tax deadlines

Businesses with employees are responsible for filing and paying employment taxes, such as federal unemployment taxes. They must also pay the employer share of Medicare and Social Security and remit the money they withhold from employee paychecks for these taxes. Generally, the business will also have to file quarterly returns to report employee wages, tips, and taxes withheld. However, employment tax and filing deadlines can vary depending on how much a business owes or how large the payroll is. 

State business tax deadlines

State tax deadlines aren’t all alike. Instead, each state sets its tax deadlines. This means knowing which state an entrepreneur or business qualifies as a resident in is the first step. From there, it’s important to determine what deadlines apply to an individual business. Missing a state tax deadline may not have the same notoriety as missing a federal tax deadline. However, missing state filings like business licenses can affect a business’s ability to operate, and fines and penalties can be significant. 

Landmarks: Major business tax deadlines 

Once a year, businesses and entrepreneurs have to file an annual return to the IRS and pay any remaining balance for taxes owed. However, the exact date can vary somewhat depending on how a business operates and is structured. Also, if the date falls on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is moved to the next business day.

March 15

Partnerships, multi-member LLCs, and S corporations usually must file by March 15th each year. However, this date applies to businesses that use a calendar year system (January to December). Companies that operate on a fiscal year must file their annual taxes by the 15th of the third month after year-end. 

April 15

Traditionally, April 15th is known as “Tax Day.” Generally, taxes are due for sole proprietors, single-member LLCs, and C corporations on April 15th. Freelancers, employees, self-employed professionals, and independent contractors should also file by this time. Missing this deadline by not filing or not paying any taxes due could mean penalties and heavy fines.


Sometimes entrepreneurs, business owners, and even major corporations need more time to file annual returns. In cases such as natural disasters, the IRS may extend deadlines automatically, so it’s essential to stay up to date on any announced tax relief. If the IRS hasn’t announced an automatic extension, then taxpayers need to request more time directly, 

  • Form 4868 is used by individuals, sole proprietors, single-member LLCs, or C corporations. This process delays the requirement for filing a completed return for six months. However, the extension is only for filing. Any payment for taxes owed is still due by the April deadline. Fortunately, 
  • Form 7004 is typically used by multimember companies to extend the filing deadline by six months.

| Business owners aren’t always thinking about taxes. But taxes wait for no one, and deadlines can sneak up fast.

Signposts: List of business tax deadlines 

Throughout the year, several tax deadlines apply to different businesses. These can be estimated payments, filings that pertain to employment taxes, or the typical federal obligations that come to mind whenever the IRS is mentioned.

However, it’s important to note that not all taxes apply to all businesses. It would also be impossible to list all potential taxes a company might be obligated to pay. For example, each state sets its tax deadlines, so business owners will need to seek out the information for their state or use resources to help track that information

These dates can change, so all taxpayers must stay updated on developments. For example, the IRS has also issued automatic extensions to extend relief to taxpayers experiencing widespread hardship. And, of course, if a date falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be delayed until the next business day. 

January 15

Fourth quarter estimated tax payments are due for self-employed, single-member LLCs, contractors, or any other income without tax withholding. These payments are also due for partnerships, multi-member LLCs, C corporations, and S corporations.

January 31

Businesses with employees must send W-2 forms by this date. Making the forms available digitally is legal, but employees must be provided a paper copy if requested. Employers can also be charged penalties by the IRS for each late W-2 form. 

This is also the day that 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC forms must be sent for any miscellaneous information or compensation paid to nonemployees. Also, 1099-K forms must be sent to report any online transactions through apps, eCommerce platforms, and payment card processors.  

March 15

As mentioned earlier, this is the deadline for partnerships, multi-member LLCs, and S corporations to file an annual return if operating on a tax year (January to December). Companies needing an extension can use Form 7004.

April 15

Taxes are due for individuals, sole proprietors, single-member LLCs, and C corporations. Form 4868 can provide relief for those that need more time to file by granting a six-month extension. 

April 15th is also the deadline for the first quarter estimated tax payment. Self-employed, single-member LLCs, contractors, or other individuals with untaxed income who expect to owe at least $1000 annually in taxes are required to make these payments. Partnerships, multi-member LLCs, C corporations, and S corporations must make estimated tax payments. The IRS provides Form 1040-ES as a tool to calculate these payments.

June 15

This is the deadline for the second quarter estimated tax payment. 

June 15th is also the date for any United States citizens living abroad to file their annual returns. All citizens, regardless of where they live on the planet, owe the IRS a return. Filing Form 4868 can delay the deadline by four months. 

September 15

September 15th is the deadline for the third quarter estimated tax payment.

This is the final deadline for filing a return for partnerships, multi-member LLCs, C corporations, and S corporations that requested an extension. 

October 15

This is the final deadline to file a return for individuals, sole proprietors, single-member LLCs, and C corporations who requested an extension.

Navigation for tax deadlines 

Business owners aren’t always thinking about taxes. But taxes wait for no one, and deadlines can sneak up fast. The IRS and state and local authorities expect reporting from all businesses. However, the process isn’t always easy to understand. It’s one challenge to navigate which filings, permits, and taxes apply and then a second undertaking to track all those dates.

Some tools can help business owners simplify the process without a lot of time and hassle. Many platforms even offer easy integration into existing applications. For example, a free ComplYant account filters taxes for a business and sets reminders so missed deadlines aren’t a worry. 

Taxes don’t have to be overwhelming. Business owners can take many simple steps to reduce the amount of time and stress they spend on taxes. A great place to start is “Bookkeeping & Accounting Secrets for Small Business Owners.” Check out the free webinar now.

Headshot for Amanda Graber, Content Marketing Specialist for ComplYant, a business tax tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
By Mandy Graber
Mandy is a seasoned content creator with experience in a wide variety of industries. She works alongside our ComplYant Tax Experts to help make tax-related content more accessible to everyone. In her long tenure as a writer and content creator, she has covered a wide array of topics, including insurance, education, financial technology, and more.

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