Some Basics on Corporate Tax
What Is Corporate Tax?
A corporate tax is a levy placed on a firm’s profit by the government. The money collected from corporate taxes is used for a nation’s source of income. A firm’s operating earnings are calculated by deducting expenses including the cost of goods sold (COGS) and depreciation from revenues. Then, tax rates are applied to generate a legal obligation the business owes the government. Rules surrounding corporate taxation vary greatly worldwide, but they must be voted upon and approved by a country’s government to be enacted. Some areas are considered tax heavens, like Jersey, and are heavily prized by corporations.
A corporate tax, also called corporation tax or company tax, is a direct tax imposed by a jurisdiction on the income or capital of corporations or analogous legal entities. Many countries impose such taxes at the national level, and a similar tax may be imposed at state or local levels. The taxes may also be referred to as income tax or capital tax. Partnerships are generally not taxed at the entity level. A country’s corporate tax may apply to:
- corporations incorporated in the country,
- corporations doing business in the country on income from that country,
- foreign corporations who have a permanent establishment in the country, or
- corporations deemed to be resident for tax purposes in the country.
Company income subject to tax is often determined much like taxable income for individual taxpayers. Generally, the tax is imposed on net profits. In some jurisdictions, rules for taxing companies may differ significantly from rules for taxing individuals. Certain corporate acts, like reorganizations, may not be taxed. Some types of entities may be exempt from tax.
Countries may tax corporations on its net profit and may also tax shareholders when the corporation pays a dividend. Where dividends are taxed, a corporation may be required to withhold tax before the dividend is distributed.
A corporate tax is a tax imposed on the net profit of a corporation that are taxed at the entity level in a particular jurisdiction. Net profit for corporate tax is generally the financial statement net profit with modifications, and may be defined in great detail within each country’s tax system. Such taxes may include income or other taxes. The tax systems of most countries impose an income tax at the entity level on certain type(s) of entities (company or corporation). The rate of tax varies by jurisdiction. The tax may have an alternative base, such as assets, payroll, or income computed in an alternative manner.
Most countries exempt certain types of corporate events or transactions from income tax. For example, events related to formation or reorganization of the corporation, which are treated as capital costs. In addition, most systems provide specific rules for taxation of the entity and/or its members upon winding up or dissolution of the entity.
In systems where financing costs are allowed as reductions of the tax base (tax deductions), rules may apply that differentiate between classes of member-provided financing. In such systems, items characterized as interest may be deductible, perhaps subject to limitations, while items characterized as dividends are not. Some systems limit deductions based on simple formulas, such as a debt-to-equity ratio, while other systems have more complex rules.
Some systems provide a mechanism whereby groups of related corporations may obtain benefit from losses, credits, or other items of all members within the group. Mechanisms include combined or consolidated returns as well as group relief (direct benefit from items of another member).
Many systems additionally tax shareholders of those entities on dividends or other distributions by the corporation. A few systems provide for partial integration of entity and member taxation. This may be accomplished by “imputation systems” or franking credits. In the past, mechanisms have existed for advance payment of member tax by corporations, with such payment offsetting entity level tax.
Many systems (particularly sub-country level systems) impose a tax on particular corporate attributes. Such non-income taxes may be based on capital stock issued or authorized (either by number of shares or value), total equity, net capital, or other measures unique to corporations.
Corporations, like other entities, may be subject to withholding tax obligations upon making certain varieties of payments to others. These obligations are generally not the tax of the corporation, but the system may impose penalties on the corporation or its officers or employees for failing to withhold and pay over such taxes. A company has been defined as a juristic person having an independent and separate existence from its shareholders. Income of the company is computed and assessed separately in the hands of the company. In certain cases, distributions from the company to its shareholders as dividends are taxed as income to the shareholders.
Advantages of Corporate Taxation
Paying corporate taxes can be more beneficial for business owners than paying additional individual income tax. Corporate tax returns deduct medical insurance for families as well as fringe benefits including retirement plans and tax-deferred trusts. It is easier for a corporation to deduct losses. A corporation may deduct the entire amount of losses while a sole proprietor must provide evidence regarding the intent to earn a profit before the losses can be deducted. Finally, profit earned by a corporation may be left within the corporation allowing for tax planning and potential future tax advantages.
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