S Corporations are Entity of Choice; 68% of S Corps Misreport
A recent IRS study shows that S corporation return filings (Form 1120S) increased dramatically and continue to be the most prevalent type of corporation filing. For Tax Year 2006, almost 2/3rds of all corporations filed a Form 1120S. The total number of returns filed by S corporations for Tax Year 2006 increased to nearly 3.9 million, from nearly 3.2 million reported in Tax Year 2002 and 722,444 in 1985. In 2006, there were 6.7 million S corporation shareholders. S corporations became the most common corporate entity type in 1997.
According to IRS data, about 68% of S corporation returns filed for tax years 2003 and 2004 (the years data were available) misreported at least one item. About 80% of the time, misreporting provided a tax advantage to the corporation and/or shareholder. The most frequent errors involved deducting ineligible expenses. Even though a majority of S corporations used paid preparers, 71% of those that did were noncompliant.
Reasonable compensation still an issue for S corporations. The GAO report also focused attention on the loophole that allows shareholders to reduce payroll taxes by reducing wage compensation. The IRS admitted that their efforts to enforce the adequate compensation rules for S corporation shareholders have been limited. For fiscal years 2006 through 2008, the IRS examined less than half of one percent of S corporations who filed.
Misreporting of shareholder basis is also a common problem, permitting shareholders to claim excess losses averaging $21,600 per taxpayer based on IRS audits for the period 2006 to 2008.
(Note: The above information was excerpted from Vern Hoven’s manual used in CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update: Part 4 webcast.) Webcasts start November 15. In Part 4, you’ll get an update on all corporate tax changes, partnership tax changes, and IRS audit issues.
by Sue Anderson - Based on 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently program director for online CPE provider, CPE Link. Formerly with the California CPA Education Foundation managing key operational areas including marketing, program development, and distance learning.