Which taxes are you liable for?

  • Federal Corporation Tax
  • Social Security Medicare
  • Unemployment Tax
  • State Corporation Tax
  • Sales Tax Franchise Tax
  • Unemployment Tax
  • Corporation Tax
  • District Corporation Tax
  • Sales Tax

As soon as you land in the US you will be subject to taxation, and tax related questions will increasingly become a consideration in many of your commercial decisions.

Corporation Tax

Corporation Tax is collected at Federal, State and sometimes District level.

It is applied at graduate rates to the net profits (not until you’re profitable). In 2018 the Federal level of the US corporation tax rate is a flat 21% due to the passage of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” on December 20, 2017.

Additional State tax varies from 0-12%.

Social Security & Medicare

These two separate taxes are often referred to as payroll taxes and are typically deducted from payroll on an ongoing basis. They are processed by a PEO or payroll provider. Social security is currently charged as 12.4% on an employee’s salary up to a maximum cap of $128k. Medicare contributions account for an additional 1.45% tax on an employee’s salary.


Sales Tax

Sales Tax is a pass-through tax similar to VAT in the UK that a merchant must collect from customers.

Sales Tax is payable in all but 5 States and varies from0% to 15%. Most businesses offering ‘services’ do not pay sales tax but where tangible goods or software are involved you should definitely factor the sales tax into your pricing.

You should check whether you are liable for Sales Tax in each State.


Sales Tax on e-commerce

As of June 2018, the US Supreme Court decided that States can require e-commerce companies to collect sales tax, overturning a 1992 decision in Quill Corporation vs. North Dakota which did not let States ask companies without a physical location in the State to collect sales tax.

Franchise Tax

Franchise Tax is paid to the State and reflects the privilege to operate in a given geography.

In addition, your State of incorporation will typically expect franchise tax.

Franchise Tax varies significantly between States – e.g. in Delaware it is linked to the total number of authorized shares up to a cap of $180k, whereas in Alabama it is a graduated tax of 0.175% on income over $2.5m up to a cap of $15k.


Property Tax

A State level tax is paid on all tangible property and some States also include a tax on intangible property.

This tax has increasingly shifted from being a State level tax to a district or city level tax.


Unemployment Tax

An employer must contribute at State and Federal level for Unemployment Tax. In 2017 this was charged at 6% of an employee’s salary, but with 5.4% of this refundable if an employer paid unemployment tax at a State level.

The maximum amount is capped at $450 per employee.