The top corporate tax rate is 21% under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “2017 Tax Act”), effective beginning in 2018. This reduced top income tax rate applies to any entities that are subject to income taxation under Subchapter C.
A complicated provision in new §199A provides tax-favored treatment of business income from passthrough entities (sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, or S corporations) that are not subject to taxation under Subchapter C and that will be taxed at the individual tax rates of the owners, which could be as high as 37%. The deduction under §199A reduces the wide discrepancy (21% vs. 37%) in the top rates at which business income would be taxed, depending on whether the business is taxed as a C corporation or as a proprietorship or passthrough entity. Very generally (but with various limitations and exceptions), the §199A deduction is a deduction for the individual owner’s tax calculation equal to 20% of the individual’s qualified business income; the 20% deduction results in an effective top rate of (1 – 0.20) x 37%, or 29.6%. This deduction is subject to various limitations, the most important of which apply to taxpayers with taxable income over a certain threshold amount and are (1) based on the wages paid by the business or wages plus the basis of its property, or (2) in certain specified service businesses (designed to prevent converting what would otherwise be normal service compensation income into business income). The deduction is allowed to individuals, trusts and estates.
The IRS issued final regulations on January 18, 2019 (and a slightly corrected version on February 1, 2019) making a number of taxpayer-friendly revisions as compared to the proposed regulations that were issued last August.