As a partner in a business, you may encounter a situation where you may be taxed on partnership income in excess of the amounts distributed to you. The cause of this quirk of taxation lies in the way partnerships and partners are taxed.
Unlike regular corporations, partnerships aren’t subject to income tax. Instead, each partner is taxed on the partnership’s earnings — whether or not they’re distributed. Similarly, if a partnership has a loss, the loss is passed through to the partners. (However, various rules may prevent partners from currently using their share of a partnership’s loss to offset other income.)
While a partnership isn’t subject to income tax, it’s treated as a separate entity for purposes of determining its income, gains, losses, deductions and credits. This makes it possible to pass through to partners their share of these items.
A partnership must file an information return, which is IRS Form 1065, “U.S. Return of Partnership Income.” On this form, the partnership separately identifies income, deductions, credits and other items to insure the partners properly treat individual items subject to limits or other rules.. Examples of such items include capital gains and losses, interest expense on investment debts, and charitable contributions. Each partner gets a Schedule K-1 showing his or her share of partnership items.
Basis and distribution rules ensure that partners aren’t taxed twice. A partner’s initial basis in his or her partnership interest (which varies depending on how the interest was acquired) is increased by his or her share of partnership taxable income. When that income is paid out to partners in cash, they aren’t taxed on the cash to the extent of basis. Instead, partners reduce their basis by the distribution amount. If a cash distribution exceeds a partner’s basis, then the excess is taxed to the partner as a gain (often, capital gain). If you add $1,000 in cash, your initial basis is $1,000. By reporting $5,000 of income, your basis increases to $6,000. Distribution amounts up to $6,000 will not generate income. Contact us to discuss further.
The HoganTaylor Tax Practice
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INFORMATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY. This content is for informational purposes only. This content does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon by you or any third party, including to operate or promote your business, secure financing or capital in any form, obtain any regulatory or governmental approvals, or otherwise be used in connection with procuring services or other benefits from any entity. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with professional advisors.