Tax Tips » S Corps to reduce self-employment income
An S corporation is not subject to tax at the corporate level. Instead, the corporation's items of income, gain, loss, and deduction are passed through to the shareholders. However, the income passed through to the shareholder is not treated as self-employment income. Thus, by using an S corporation, you can avoid self-employment income tax.
There is a problem, however, in that IRS requires that the S corporation pay you reasonable compensation for your services to the S corporation. The compensation is treated as wages subject to employment tax (split evenly between the corporation and the employee), which is equivalent to the self-employment tax.
If the S corporation does not pay you reasonable compensation for your services, IRS may treat a portion of the S corporation's distributions to you as wages and will impose social security taxes on the deemed wages.
How much compensation is “reasonable”? There's no simple formula. IRS tries to determine the amount that similar companies would pay for comparable services under like circumstances. Factors that are taken into account include:
There are a number of concrete steps you can take to make it more likely that the compensation you earn will be considered “reasonable,” and therefore deductible by your corporation. For example, you can: