How Much Should I Set Aside for LLC Taxes? (Full Guide)

Atty. Danya Shakfeh
Published by Atty. Danya Shakfeh | Author
Last updated: March 20, 2024
Methodology
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There are a few options for calculating your tax obligations and saving the correct amount of money.

As a seasoned financial advisor with a wealth of experience, I have encountered various tax situations and understand the importance of accurate tax planning.

To address this crucial aspect of personal finance, I embarked on extensive research, dedicating countless hours to studying tax regulations, consulting with experts in the field, and analyzing real-life scenarios.

In this comprehensive guide, I will share practical strategies and considerations to help you determine the appropriate amount to set aside for taxes.

Quick Summary

  • To manage LLC taxes effectively, set aside 20-30% of your earnings.
  • Utilize structured steps including tax obligation calculation, net income assessment, and adherence to the 30% savings rule.
  • According to a report by the Small Business Administration, 75% of small businesses underestimate their quarterly tax payments, leading to potential fines and cash flow issues.
  • I highlight that diligently setting aside a fixed tax percentage helps in maintaining financial stability and avoiding IRS penalties.


What to Set Aside for Taxes?

Writing on a document paper about how much should set aside for LLC taxes

According to financial advice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), one of the most common estimated tax payments rule of thumb is to set aside 20-30% of your earnings.

However, it's important to consult with a qualified tax professional to determine the precise amount based on your specific situation, such as filing status, tax deductions, and applicable tax laws.

Calculating the appropriate amount to set aside for taxes is crucial for financial planning. While individual circumstances vary, it's generally recommended to allocate a percentage of your income toward taxes.

How To Determine the Amount To Set Aside for Taxes?

A man determining his LLC tax obligations

Calculating the appropriate amount to set aside for taxes is crucial for financial planning.

Here are the steps you can follow:

1. Determine Your Tax Obligations

The first step is to determine your tax obligations. This includes federal taxes, state income tax, and local tax.

You can use various resources to figure this out, including the IRS and your state's Department of Revenue websites.

These taxes include:

  • Self-Employment Tax

Examples of self-employment taxes are Social Security and Medicare taxes that apply to business owners.

The rate is 15.3% of your net income from the business. You can deduct half of this self-employment tax from your income taxes.

  • Income Tax

Your income taxes are what you pay on your business profits or capital gains [1]. The rates vary depending on your income and filing status. You can use the IRS tax tables to determine how much you owe [2].

  • Sales Tax

States and local governments impose sales taxes on goods and services [3]. The rate varies depending on the jurisdiction. You'll need to check with your state and local governments to determine the rates and pay estimated taxes.

  • Franchise Tax

A franchise tax is a tax that some states impose on businesses. The rate and base vary by state. You can find out more from your state's Department of Revenue.

  • Property Tax

Local governments impose property taxes on the property's value, such as buildings and equipment [4].

The rates vary depending on the jurisdiction. You'll need to check with your state and local governments to find out the rates to pay estimated taxes.

  • Excise Tax

The federal government imposes excise taxes on certain goods and services [5]. The rate and base vary by type of good or service. You can find out more from the IRS website.

2. Figure Out Your Net Income and Adjusted Gross Income

The next step is to figure out your net income. This is your revenue from the business minus your business expenses. You can use accounting software to track this or do it manually.

You may want to estimate your net income if you're just starting. You can do this by looking at your revenue and expenses for the month and extrapolating that out for the year.

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."

- Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist

3. Stick To The 30% Rule When It Comes To Taxes

Someone using a calculator

The 30% rule is a general guideline that states that you should set aside 30% of your income for taxes. This includes federal, state, and local taxes.

As a business advisor, I've seen many clients benefit from the 30% rule, especially when planning for tax obligations.

It provides a clear benchmark for setting aside funds, ensuring that businesses are prepared for tax season and can avoid penalties or cash flow problems.

My clients who followed the this rule experienced significantly less financial stress and achieved more predictable budgeting throughout the year.

Excess payments are not calculated in the same way for every organization.

If you want to get more specific or see whether you can save less than 30%, talk to your accountant about how much of your business income should be set aside to pay estimated taxes.

4. Save In A Separate Account

Once you know how much money to set aside for taxes, you'll need to put it in a separate account. This will make tracking easier and ensure you're not spending the money on other things.

You can use your business checking or savings account or open a special account specifically for taxes.

5. Choose a Saving Method

You may have money set aside for taxes as often as you like.

However, the ideal savings technique for your business depends on various factors, including the type of business you run and how long it's been operational.

The Per-Payment Method

For new businesses or first-year filers, pre-paying taxes is advisable, especially in volatile industries.

Quick business growth makes accurate income prediction challenging. If affected by seasonality, predictability decreases.

Save 30% of each client payment in a business account.

For low-frequency, high-value incomes, set aside monthly or weekly instead of per transaction.

Utilize large payments to cover estimated taxes, benefiting from financial predictability and avoiding underpayment. Adjust if yearly estimates change to avoid shortfall.

The Safe Harbor Method

A man holding his phone and credit card in front of his laptop

The safe harbor method is a rule that allows business owners to pay a fixed percentage of their taxable income instead of estimated taxes.

This can be helpful if you have difficulty predicting your company's annual income.

You must average your income over the past three years and then pay 90% of that amount. The final 10% is paid in the following year.

This method simplifies tax budgeting and avoids underpayment penalties.

Use the safe harbor method for fluctuating incomes, but only if you've filed federal returns for the past three years. Otherwise, choose a different payment method.

The Average Method

The average method may be a good option if your business is seasonal or has irregular income.

This technique smooths out fluctuations in earnings by averaging your income over the past three years.

To use this method, add up your taxable income for the past three years and divide by three. This will give you an average annual income.

In my advisory experience, this approach is effective for businesses new or with variable income, unable to use standardized tax methods. It aids in financial stability and compliance.

Like the safe harbor method, taxes using the average method can be paid using any frequency, even if your company's income fluctuates from year to year.

Before using this method, file tax returns for the past three years.

The Monthly Method

A woman holding his phone and credit card in front of his laptop

If your business has regular income, you can use the monthly method to calculate LLC taxes.

This approach is simple and accurate if your earnings are consistent from month to month.

To use this method, multiply your taxable income for the current year by 12. Then, multiply that number by 90% (0.9). The final 10% is paid in the following year.

This method is only recommended if your company's income doesn't fluctuate much from month to month.

If it does, you should use another method to calculate taxes.

The Quartly Method

If you receive low-frequency/high-value payments, you can use the quarterly tax payments method to calculate estimated quarterly taxes.

This approach is simple and accurate if your earnings are consistent from quarter to quarter.

The Yearly Method

A woman holding his phone and credit card in front of his laptop

You can use the yearly method to calculate taxes if your business has regular business income.

This approach is simple and accurate if your earnings are consistent from month to month.

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FAQs

What Happens if You Underestimate Your Taxes Owed?

If you underestimate your taxes owed, you may be penalized for underpayment. To avoid this, be sure to choose a method of calculation that is simple and accurate.

What Happens if You Pay Too Much Taxes?

If you pay too much taxes, you will receive a refund from the IRS. This money can be used to cover future tax bills or other expenses.


References:

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/incometax.asp
  2. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/business-taxes
  3. https://taxfoundation.org/publications/state-and-local-sales-tax-rates/
  4. https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/state-and-local-finance-initiative/projects/state-and-local-backgrounders/property-taxes
  5. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/excisetax.asp

About The Author

Author
Atty. Danya Shakfeh, with over ten years of experience as a corporate attorney, leads Motiva Law, offering strategic legal advice to entrepreneurs. She is skilled at transforming complex legal concepts into clear strategies, allowing clients to pursue their goals. A "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and an alumna of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Danya is distinguished in business law.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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