Unlike many other business entities in which the profits pass through to the owners’ personal tax return (e.g. LLCs, S Corporations, etc.), the C Corporation is a completely separate taxable entity. The C Corporation pays federal taxes on the net profits (after all expenses, including salaries and bonuses) of the business by filing the 1120 form with the IRS. The after tax profits can be paid out to the owners (shareholders) in the form of dividends, or retained for reinvestment of the business. The first $50,000 of net income is only federally taxed at 15% rate, and the next $25,000 is taxed at a 25% rate. Different states have different rules on how they tax corporations.
Absolutely not. Being formed as a Nonprofit Corporation does not automatically mean that the corporation is tax-exempt for federal and, in some instances, state income tax. A “tax-exempt” Corporation is a distinctive entity that has gained an exemption from income tax liability. A Nonprofit Corporation is not eligible for exemption from income tax liability until it applies for and has been approved by the IRS for tax-exempt status.
For purposes of federal taxation, an S Corporation is taxed differently than a C Corporation. Typically, the S Corporation files its annual return using the Form 1120S, as opposed to the 1120 for a C Corporation. The 1120S is an informational return; it simply informs the federal tax authorities the amount of net profit/loss made by the S Corporation, the shareholders amongst which the profit/loss will be distributed, and the proportion in which the profit/loss is distributed to the shareholders. There is no tax payment/refund associated with the 1120S tax return, as the S Corporation does not have the independent tax status that a C Corporation has. Instead, the profits/losses of the S Corporation are considered distributed to the shareholders in proportion to the ownership interest of the shareholder.
The 2553 Form, known as the sub chapter S election, is required to be filed with the IRS to get S-Corporation status for purposes of federal taxation. Filing this Form with the IRS is used to convert a C-Corporation into an S-Corporation.