How Is Passive Income Taxed In A Corporation

As mentioned before, corporations can exist with or without income. This means that not all companies have to file income tax returns every year! That is why it is important to understand how passive income is taxed in a corporation.

Corporations can actively or passively earn money. Active earnings occur when the company goes into business for itself by offering products or services. For example, if a company offers professional services like lawyers, accountants, or architects, these professionals work for the company as employees and are paid an hourly wage dependent upon their salary.

These professionals also receive benefits such as health insurance which averages about $5,000 per employee. These benefits make up one of the major costs of employment for most large businesses.

A small cost but one that many people may not know about is payroll taxes. Employers are obligated by law to pay social security and Medicare fees each worker according to their wages. The more a person makes, the higher these taxes are proportionally.

This article will talk about other types of passive income and how they are taxed in a corporation. More than likely, what type of business you want to start involves income! So, stay tuned and read on to learn more.


The content in this article refers to examples of situations in America only. Although our examples are American-based, we cannot say whether these apply to other countries similarly to how we could tell British terms apply in America. Make sure to do your research accordingly.

Deductions are taken out of gross income

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main ways that corporations deduct money from your net income is by taking itemized deductions. These include things like charity donations, medical expenses, and business related costs.

However, there is another type of deduction that many individuals forget about when it comes to paying taxes in a corporation. This tax break is called the “ordinary loss” or “loss carryover.”

It happens when an individual in the company files their personal returns and includes any losses they might have incurred. For example, if you run your own baking business, and this year was a bad crop for berries, then your return could contain the loss of what berry products you had left.

You can apply those losses towards other businesses, but only if they are affiliated with you (for instance, your employer). The IRS will allow you to use up to $5,000 per year in ordinary losses as a business owner.

This article will go into more detail about how active versus passive income entities should approach these losses.

Capital gains are treated differently than regular income

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

In fact, corporations can even defer paying taxes on capital gains by setting up certain business arrangements called tax strategies. One of these is passive investment strategy- also known as dividend investing!

By buying stocks with dividends you earn through their payouts to shareholders (dividends), and not from profits made off your investments, they’re considered non-active holdings.

Since the stock price goes down when a company pays out more money for its shares, there is no gain accrued. Therefore, it is not counted as taxable income.

This article will go into greater detail about how corporate taxation works, as well as some easy ways to invest passively in stocks via dividends.

Capital gains are taxed at lower rates than regular income

As we discussed, capital gains occur when you sell an asset that you have owned for more than one year. An example of this would be if you sold a car that you have used for your daily commute.

When you sell an investment such as a house or a stock, it is called capital gain tax treatment. The reason why this is different from ordinary income is because capital gains are designed to reward people who made wise investments.

By contrast, normal income is taxed according to how much money you make. Therefore, the higher your income, the greater proportion of it will be paid in taxes.

With the introduction of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) in 1990, things changed slightly for high-income individuals. Before AMT was enacted, very wealthy individuals were disproportionately affected by the additional tax burden.

However, with the implementation of AMT, now even middle class individuals can face significant taxation due to the way it is structured. This article will go into detail about what makes up a business’s net operating loss (NOL), how they can use these to reduce their taxable income, and some examples of how this can apply to individual taxpayers.

Paying tax is a responsibility of the owner

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

As mentioned before, being able to afford your dreams depends largely upon your income. If you make a large amount of money, then you can spend more like millionaires.

But if you make a modest income, it’s important to know how much you need to pay in taxes so that you don’t have to go into debt because of it.

In fact, many people who are just barely keeping their heads above water seem to put more pressure on themselves than they should by thinking about all of the ways they could be taxed.

One of the most common sources of passive income is an S-Corp. In this case, the person running the business is not required to take personal financial responsibility for paying income tax. Rather, it is paid at the corporate level.

However, there are still some things needed to ensure proper taxation. This article will talk more about those.

Owners must keep detailed records

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

As discussed before, even if you are not paying income tax right now, it is important to be aware of how passive income is taxed in order to avoid higher taxes down the road. If your net profit is less than $50,000 per year (or zero yearly profits), then there are some simple ways to ensure you don’t have to pay much or any additional income tax.

However, for individuals who make over $150,000 per year, more complicated rules apply. The good news is that most people fall into the lower income bracket.

Since everyone's situation is different, we recommend speaking with professionals about your personal situations so you can determine what strategies work best for you.

Self-employment tax is based on net income

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

Net profit or income is the difference between what you have coming in (dollars, services, etc.) and what you are leaving behind (expenses). With this definition of income in place, it’s time to talk about something that is most people’s favorite type of income… but unfortunately not everyone enjoys directly.

Net income is typically reported as gross income minus business expenses. However, there is one small detail with this equation – self-employed individuals must also pay an additional tax called “self-employment tax.” This tax is calculated according to two numbers; your personal average monthly income and your marginal rate of taxation.

The first number in the calculation — personal average monthly income — refers to how much you make per month averaged over the course of a year. For example, if you made $5,000 per week then your personal average would be $52,800 ($5,000 x 52 weeks = $104,000) because you earn enough money for one full month every week.

Your marginal rate of taxation is simply referring to your individual tax bracket. So, let’s use our previous example again. If we were in the 25% tax bracket, our marginal rate would be just under 6%. Therefore, our self-employment tax comes out to 2+0.06=2.06%.

Tips are not taxed as income

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

As we mentioned before, all sorts of passive income is treated differently depending on how you organize your business. For example, if you run your business as an S-Corp or LLC, then any distributions to shareholders are typically tax free.

However, if you operate your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership, then these distributions are counted as taxable income. This could be because shareholders’ rights vary slightly between those types of entities (for instance, an S-corp can have less stringent requirements for board membership).

Alternatively, some forms of passive income may be considered non-taxable “dividend income” under the IRS Code. These include certain royalty incomes and interest payments that are not subject to additional taxation.

Capital losses can be applied to reduce other taxable income

how is passive income taxed in a corporation

Although passive activities are not taxed directly, you can still benefit from them. A common way to achieve this is by taking capital losses. When investing in certain assets or sectors, you may encounter significant tax savings if you have a large loss.

You could choose to apply your capital losses against ordinary income (salary and revenue), corporate income, business profits or even rental income!

By using these as offsets, your overall taxes go down. The rules for when you can take a capital loss depend on several factors, such as the asset type, the company that owns it and whether you are an individual or part of a partnership.

Here we will discuss how active and passive investors use capital losses to save money on their personal income tax. But first, let’s look at some basics about income taxation.

About The Author

Tiara Ogabang
Tiara Joan Ogabang is a talented content writer and marketing expert, currently working for the innovative company With a passion for writing and a keen eye for detail, Tiara has quickly become an integral part of the team, helping to drive engagement and build brand awareness through her creative and engaging content.
Juice Beta is ending July 1st! Subscribe before end of month to lock in Juice Plus for 50% off!
$49 $25
Sign up now
Juice Beta is ending soon! Subscribe now to lock in Juice Plus for $49 $25
Sign up now