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Posted by Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow, CTRC

Tax Tips For A Small International Business

Tax Tips For A Small International Business

If you run a small international business based in the United States, navigating the U.S. tax system can be quite complicated. Here are some tax tips to help you manage your tax obligations effectively:

Determine Your U.S. Tax Filing Obligations

The first thing you need to do is to understand what the US tax system classifies your business as. Is your business classified as nonresident or resident? Factors such as the amount of money you generate within the United States and the type of business entity will determine what your tax classification is.

Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

If you don’t already have an EIN for your business from the Internal Revenue Service, you will need to get one. An EIN is required for numerous tax purposes such as opening a US bank account, and filing tax returns. 

Learn About The US Tax System

You need to have at the very least a basic understanding of the US tax system. This includes key concepts like credits, deductions, and taxable income. To do this, it might be necessary to meet with a tax professional, especially one that specializes in international taxation. Such a professional can ensure you remain compliant with US tax laws.

Find Out What Your Taxable Income Is

You will need to calculate what your taxable income is by identifying your gross income generated from a US source and subtracting allowable expenses. You will need to keep detailed records of your business expenses and income to achieve this.

Understand U.S. Tax Treaties

Find out if your home country has a tax treaty with the US. Tax treaties can help you avoid double taxation. They can also have specific provisions that affect small international businesses. Consulting the tax treaty between your country and the US can help you understand how it affects your business.

File U.S. Tax Returns

If you are required by law to file tax returns, you need to ensure that you meet all the filing deadlines. You might have to file a Form 1065 (U.S. Return of Partnership Income) or a Form 1120 (U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return) depending on your business. You can get professional assistance to accurately complete and file your tax returns.

Understand Withholding and Reporting Requirements

If you have US-based independent contractors or employees, you need to be aware of the payroll withholding and reporting requirements. To this end, you need to ensure that you correctly withhold federal income taxes, Medicare, and Social Security taxes. You also need to file the necessary payroll tax returns like Form 941 (Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return).

Ensure You Remain Compliant with State and Local Taxes

You should remain aware of any local and state tax obligations, in addition to federal taxes. Every state has its own tax laws and filing requirements. You will need to determine if your small international business has sales tax based on the state in which your business operates.

Remain Updated With Tax Law Changes

Update your knowledge of the tax laws and regulations as these changes can affect your small international business. Changes in tax laws can significantly affect your deductions, eligibility for tax credits, and tax liability. To ensure you remain abreast of key developments, you will need to consult a tax professional for advice.


You should note that all of the tips highlighted in this article are meant to give you a general idea of what to do. The best way to get detailed information on your business’s tax obligation is to speak with a qualified tax professional. A tax professional is able to address your unique situation and ensure compliance with the appropriate tax laws.



Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow, CTRC
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