File 1120S instead of Schedule C

Schedule C is part of Form 1040 and is used to report income or loss from a business. “Business” means any continuous activity engaged in for income or profit. Schedule C is also used to report statutory employee wages and expenses, income and deductions of certain qualified joint ventures, and certain income shown on Form 1099-K and Form 1099-MISC. There are two important reasons why reporting business income on Form 1120S is better than reporting business income on Schedule C.

First, is audit risk. The IRS continually tracks the “tax gap,” or the amount of tax liability faced by taxpayers that is not paid on time. A huge portion of the tax gap is attributable to Schedule C under-reporting; this is the reason why the IRS audit efforts focus so heavily on Schedule C. Additionally, claiming several years of losses in a row on Schedule C will increase audit risk with the IRS arguing that the “business” is really a “hobby” and that the losses should be disallowed.

Not only does filing Schedule C cause an audit risk, it also results in paying more self-employment taxes than necessary. On Schedule C, all of the net income from the business is subject to self-employment tax, which is normally around 15 percent. Self-employment tax is in addition to income tax.

By forming a business entity and electing to have that business entity taxed under Subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code, self-employment tax liability can be reduced. A Subchapter S Corporation (S-Corp) is created when an eligible entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company, elects to be treated according to the rules of Subchapter S of the Code and its regulations.

S-Corp net income is reported on form 1120S and flows through to the personal tax return of its owners, avoiding Schedule C and self-employment tax all together. However, S-Corps must pay a reasonable salary to its owners. Salary is subject to payroll taxes, and payroll taxes are virtually identical in amount to self-employment taxes. However, S-Corps do not need to pay all net income as salary, and any net income not paid as salary avoids both self-employment tax and payroll tax.

In order to form an S-Corp and file Form 1120S, advance planning must be undertaken since a business entity should be formed and Form 2553 should be filed to make the S-Election near the beginning of the tax year. Doing so, however, is likely to result in a smaller overall tax liability at year end.


IRC 183 "hobby losses" also applies to S Corps. Audit adjustments can be made at the 1120S (or even 1065 for partnerships) level to convert the activity to a "hobby." Same effect as if the activity was reported on Sch C. So that's not an advantage.
The only entity that avoids IRC 183 is an 1120 for C corps.

I agree, but do you think that improper hobby losses are more likely to show up on Schedule Cs than they are on 1120Ss?

When is it most appropriate to elect S corp instead of Schedule C? If a small business is making net income of $40K, would it be better to file as S corp? How about $80k? 100k?

If I have a 1099 MISC from a payer referencing not me personally but a corporation I have formed, using the corporation's federal I.D., can I elect to report this income on Schedule C or must I file form 1120S for the business?

The IRS will be looking for a tax return filed by the entity which received the 1099 which reflects the income reported on the 1099.

QUESTION: If there is a Sch C in an individual's 1040 does that mean there will not be a 1065 or 765?????

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What form should I used to file executive bonus?

I work in a firm that believes all schedule C filers should be S corps. This is new concept that came with a new employee. I don't see the logic behind this but I am not strong in tax so I can not offer any argument. I do have a couple of questions as I work through this in my head. 1. A schedule C filer can take money out of the company which reduces profits which reduces tax liability; an S corps has to pay the owner a wage 15% tax plus the owner can take draws. My understanding is they are taxed on the draws at a lower rate than self employment tax or payroll tax but they are taxed, so it seems like the Sch C is a better choice for a small business with sales of $1,000,000 or less? Also how does QBI factor into this? I would appreciate any feedback for a better understanding of this situation. Thank you!!

January 24, 2022

Thank you for your help. My business became an S-Corp in 2013 but filed schedule C every year not Form 1120-s.
1. Does it make sense to file amended returns for the past years?
2. If all income is not reported on a Schedule 1120s as salary, which helps avoid self-employment tax, how else can it be paid out?
Is the 1120S always a good option over the Schedule C for income of less than $1,000,000 per year? Thank you.