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By The Wyoming LLC Attorney Team

Feb 10, 2023

Colorado LLC Taxes

How to Start an LLC

When selecting the appropriate business entity for your organization, taxes are a significant concern. In fact, taxes owed to the government are directly linked to the chosen business entity structure. Furthermore, the choice of tax classification will significantly impact the applicable tax filing rules.

For instance, forming an LLC affords greater flexibility in determining how the IRS taxes the company's earnings. Since there is no single set of tax regulations that are exclusively applicable to LLCs, the IRS permits every Colorado limited liability company to choose from a range of tax treatment options. Hence, it is crucial to understand the tax burden beforehand to make informed decisions. By learning about Colorado LLC tax filing requirements and ways to minimize your tax bill, you will be able to manage your LLC taxes more effectively. It’s also important for business owners to understand the fees associated with forming an LLC, and the benefits it offers, including asset protection and the possibility of creating an anonymous LLC. Drafting a solid operating agreement, adhering to periodic report filing requirements, and the specific considerations for a single-member LLC, are essential steps in ensuring your organization's compliance and financial health.

What Is an LLC?

A Limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity that offers owners personal liability protection and is registered with the state. It is similar in nature to a corporation or partnership; however, it possesses distinct tax characteristics that distinguish it from other business structures.

However, just like any other company operating in the state, an LLC is subject to business tax in Colorado. These obligations are determined by the chosen tax classification, which can range from partnership, corporation, or sole proprietorship tax rules. Therefore, it is essential to understand the implications of each option, as they will directly impact the Colorado LLC tax filing requirements and the company's tax burden.

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How Are Limited Liability Companies Taxed in Colorado?

Unlike a corporation, a Colorado LLC is not considered a separate tax entity by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is classified as a "pass-through entity," similar to a partnership or sole proprietorship. As a result, the profits and losses of the LLC are passed through to its owners, referred to as members, who then report this information on their individual tax returns. In other words, the company itself is not liable for federal income taxes, although some states may impose an annual tax on LLCs.

In Colorado, the tax rate for LLCs is determined based on the type of business. Basically, an LLC may choose to be classified as an S corporation or a C corporation for federal tax purposes, depending on the number of members and other factors.

Income Taxes in Colorado

As a member of a Colorado limited liability company, you must report your share of the business's profits and losses on your personal tax return. That is calculated based on your ownership percentage in the LLC. Then, the standard Colorado state income tax rate of 4.4% applies to your earned income, and you are eligible to claim standard allowances and deductions when filing your tax return.

The manner in which a Colorado LLC files and pays income taxes depends on its ownership structure, which can either be a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC.

Single-Owner LLCs

By default, the IRS categorizes single-member LLCs as disregarded entities for federal income tax purposes. Simply put, the LLC is not required to file a separate income tax return to report its income and expenses. Instead, these are reported directly on the owner's personal tax return (similar to a sole proprietorship) on Form 1040, Schedule C.

The owner's personal income tax rate applies to any profit the LLC generates after deducting business expenses. Conversely, if the LLC operates at a loss for the year, the owner can offset the loss against their personal income.

In some states, a separate tax or fee may be imposed. For instance, in California, an LLC is subject to an annual tax of $800 and a fee contingent on the LLC's taxable income within the state. In Colorado, on the other hand, as a single-member LLC, you are only required to file federal income tax as the state does not impose a state income tax.

Multi-Owner LLCs

For multi-member LLCs, the federal income tax treatment is as a pass-through entity. That means the LLC itself is not subject to taxation. Instead, each member is responsible for paying taxes on their share of the business's income based on their respective income tax bracket with Schedule E attached.

For example, in the case of a multi-member LLC with equal ownership stakes among its owners, each member is accountable for paying taxes on a proportional share of the LLC's profits, equivalent to their respective ownership share. Furthermore, each member is entitled to claim an equal part of the LLC's tax deductions, credits, and losses, much like in a partnership structure.

At the same time, all members are responsible for paying self-employment and federal income taxes. However, if the LLC is directly owned by individuals, it is exempt from franchise taxes.

A multi-member LLC is required to submit various tax forms to the IRS, including Form 1065, which represents the U.S. Return of Partnership Income and must be filed annually. Additionally, by March 15 of each year, the LLC must provide each member with a Schedule K-1, which outlines each member's share of the LLC's income, losses, credits, and deductions. These forms must be incorporated into each member's personal income tax return when submitted to the IRS.

The taxation process for LLCs operates similarly at the state and local levels. That said, some states may impose additional LLC taxes.

Electing Taxation

LLCs have two options for taxation: (1) being taxed as a separate entity and (2) being taxed as a pass-through entity. The LLC Operating Agreement will provide the voting process and approval needed to make this decision.

C Corporation

A Colorado limited liability company may elect to be treated as a C corporation by submitting Form 8832 (the Entity Classification Election) to the IRS. As a regular corporation, a C corporation is subject to corporate taxes and is not considered a pass-through entity. For this reason, the members, shareholders, or owners are subject to separate taxation.

Moreover, the shareholders' income is taxed twice — at the corporate and shareholder levels. The corporate tax is filed using Form 1120, while the shareholder-level tax is filed using Form 1040 and is further subject to federal income tax.

S Corporation

The S corporation is a widely utilized corporate structure by small businesses. Despite its designation as a corporation by the IRS, it functions much like an LLC in terms of taxation. Hence, the income, losses, deductions, and credits of an S corporation are passed through to its shareholders, who are responsible for reporting the information on their individual tax returns.

However, S corporations are still subject to corporate income taxes. This hybrid tax classification allows for the liability protection of a corporation while also affording the tax benefits of a pass-through entity. That said, unlike partnerships, the shareholders of an S corporation are still required to pay federal self-employment tax on their portion of the company's profits.

You may elect to have your company treated as an S corporation by submitting Form 2553 to the IRS. However, like an LLC, you will need to report annual earnings on your personal account on a different Schedule E.

Should LLCs Consider Corporate Taxation?

If LLCs plan to retain earnings within the company, they should consider corporate taxation, as it allows for the accumulation of earnings without being taxed at the individual level. Additionally, corporations may be eligible for certain tax benefits and deductions unavailable to pass-through entities.

All conventional C corporations are subject to a flat tax rate of 21% on their net profits. This rate is comparatively lower than the highest three marginal tax rates for individual income, which range from 32% to 37%. Furthermore, it is applied to the members of an LLC depending on their income level. Consequently, electing to be taxed as a C corporation may result in reduced overall tax liability for the owners of an LLC.

However, the potential for tax savings can be offset by the double taxation of revenue distributed from a C corporation to its shareholders. Such income is taxed firstly at the corporate tax rate of 21% and then again at the individual income tax rate, which can range up to 23.8% for capital gains.

Still, it is important to note that retained earnings within a C corporation are not subject to double taxation. Furthermore, opting for corporate tax can provide an LLC with the ability to offer its owners and employees various tax-advantaged fringe benefits, stock options, and stock ownership plans, which are not subject to double taxation.

Which Option Is Better?

The choice of taxation for an LLC ultimately depends on the specific needs and goals of the business. Pass-through taxation may be more beneficial for smaller companies with a limited number of owners, as it can help simplify the Colorado LLC tax filing requirements and reduce the overall tax burden.

On the other hand, corporations may be more suitable for larger Colorado LLCs with a more complex ownership structure and a need to retain earnings within the company. In this case, corporate taxation may be a better option, as it allows for the accumulation of earnings and eligibility for certain tax benefits and deductions.

What Is Tax Deductible for an LLC?

As a business structure, an LLC offers several tax benefits to its owners. One of the key advantages is the ability to deduct a range of business expenses from the owner's personal tax returns. The following costs are commonly tax-deductible for an LLC:

  • Start-up expenses: Various business costs related to starting a company, such as conducting research, acquiring licenses and permits, etc.
  • Business operating expenses: Costs incurred in the day-to-day operation of the company, such as rent, utilities, and supplies.
  • Fees and books: Expenses covering professional books, accounting fees, and legal costs.
  • Employee salaries and benefits: The costs associated with compensating employees, including salaries, bonuses, and benefits such as health insurance and 401(k) contributions.
  • Insurance: Paying insurance for businesses, including liability.
  • Depreciation: Expenses related to business property, such as equipment and vehicles.
  • Interest expenses: Interest paid on loans used to finance the business.
  • Charitable contributions: Donations made to qualified charitable organizations.
  • Travel and entertainment expenses: Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred while traveling for business purposes, such as transportation, lodging, and meals.
  • Educational costs: Expenses paid to preserve or enhance employees’ abilities necessary for your current line of work.
  • Promotion and advertising: Websites, giveaways, Google advertisements, and other promotional advertisements.
  • Independent contractors: Cost of bringing on non-employees to assist your company.

Other LLC Taxes

State Business Tax in Colorado

In some states, LLCs are subject to a distinctive tax or surcharge owing to their operations within the state's sphere of authority. Fortunately, Colorado is not one of the states that implement such regulations.

That said, some LLC owners elect to have their business entity taxed as a corporation for tax purposes. In that case, Colorado imposes a tax on corporate income, currently set at a flat rate of 4.55% of taxable income. The tax obligation is payable to the Colorado Department of Revenue, and payment can be made through the state's corporation income tax return (Form 112).

State Employer Taxes

As a Colorado employer, remitting taxes to the state is mandatory. Namely, the employer is responsible for withholding and promptly paying employee income taxes to the DOR (Department of Revenue).

The process of filing withholding taxes should be performed regularly, whether on a weekly, quarterly, or monthly basis and can be executed either electronically or through paper submissions (Form CR). To reconcile the LLC's tax withholding, Forms DR 1093 and DR 1106 must be used annually.

In most cases, employers are required to register for state unemployment insurance (UI) taxes through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. This process can usually be completed online. Nevertheless, if the employer is ineligible, it is necessary to complete and submit Form ITL-100. Then, to ensure compliance with tax regulations, Form UITR-1 should be used to accurately report wages and make UI tax payments.

Sales and Use Taxes

Collecting and remitting sales tax to the DOR is mandatory when selling goods to customers within Colorado. In order to comply with this obligation, you must first register with the DOR. This process can be completed either electronically or by submitting Form CR 0100AP. Upon successful registration, a sales tax license will be issued to the entity.

Self Employment Taxes

As LLC members are not considered employees, there are no deductions for Social Security and Medicare contributions from their payroll. Instead, most LLC members are obligated to pay these taxes, commonly referred to as "self-employment taxes."

The current regulations dictate that any owner who actively participates in or manages the business must pay self-employment tax on their distributive share of profits. Conversely, owners who are passive in the LLC, meaning they have invested funds but do not provide services or make managerial decisions, may be exempt from paying self-employment taxes on their share of profits.

How LLCs Pay State Income Tax

In Colorado, LLCs are required to pay state income tax on their business income. This tax is calculated based on the company's net income and is due on a yearly basis.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file and pay Colorado LLC taxes:

  1. Determine the type of taxation: This will dictate the tax forms the LLC will need to file.
  2. File an Annual Report: Colorado LLCs must file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State every year. This report is due on the anniversary of the LLC's formation.
  3. Obtain an EIN: An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a tax identification number that is assigned by the IRS. LLCs with multiple members must obtain this number, while owners of single-member LLCs do not need to have separate EINs since they are not considered employers.
  4. File the state income tax return: LLCs in Colorado must file a state income tax return annually, usually by April 15. The tax return form to be used will depend on the type of taxation the LLC has selected.
  5. Pay the state income tax: Once the state income tax return has been filed, the LLC will need to pay the tax owed to the Colorado DOR.

In order to determine the appropriate tax obligations for your LLC, it is advisable to seek the counsel of a professional accountant or legal advisor. Failure to accurately fulfill tax obligations may result in the imposition of penalties or fines.

Understanding Colorado LLC Tax Filing Requirements

Learning the complexities of income and business tax in Colorado is critical for the success of any LLC operating within the state. By familiarizing themselves with the state's tax requirements and regulations, members can ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties and fines.

At Wyoming LLC Attorney, we are dedicated to providing support and guidance to businesses navigating the Colorado LLC tax landscape. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you understand your obligations and ensure that all necessary tax forms are filed accurately and on time.

Don't let the Colorado LLC tax filing requirements burden your business operations. Reach us by calling (307) 683-0983 or filling out the contact form and taking the first step towards compliance and peace of mind. Take advantage of our expertise and form your LLC now.