What Taxes Do You Pay on S Corp Distributions

When you receive distributions from an S corporation, the amount you’ll owe in taxes depends on the nature of the distribution and your tax situation. Distributions of previously taxed earnings are generally tax-free, while distributions of earnings and profits are taxed as ordinary income. If the S corporation has accumulated earnings and profits, you may also be responsible for paying capital gains tax on a portion of your distribution. Additionally, you may be subject to self-employment taxes on any earnings that were not subject to withholding. It’s recommended to consult with a tax professional to determine the specific tax implications for your individual circumstances.

Taxation of Distributions as Ordinary Income

Distributions from an S corporation are generally taxed as ordinary income to the shareholders. This means that the distributions are included in the shareholders’ taxable income and are taxed at their ordinary income tax rates.

However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, distributions that are made from the corporation’s accumulated earnings and profits (E&P) are not taxable as ordinary income. Additionally, distributions that are made in excess of the shareholder’s basis in the corporation’s stock are taxed as capital gains.

The following table summarizes the tax treatment of S corporation distributions:

Distribution TypeTax Treatment
Distributions from E&PNot taxable as ordinary income
Distributions in excess of E&PTaxed as ordinary income
Distributions in excess of basisTaxed as capital gains

Determining Basis for Distributions

Shareholders of S corporations must determine their basis in the corporation to calculate the tax consequences of distributions. The basis represents the shareholder’s investment in the corporation and is used to offset distributions.

The basis is determined as follows:

  1. Capital contributions: Add the amount of money and the fair market value of property contributed to the corporation.
  2. Income: Increase the basis by the shareholder’s share of corporate income, including both taxable and tax-exempt income.
  3. Deductions and losses: Subtract distributions made by the corporation, as well as shareholder’s share of any deductions or losses.
  4. Other adjustments: Consider any non-taxable income or expenses that affect the basis.

Example of Determining Basis

  • Capital contribution: $100,000
  • Taxable income reported on Schedule K-1: $20,000
  • Non-taxable income: $5,000
  • Distributions received: $12,000
  • Business expenses: $3,000
Basis Calculation
Initial capital contribution$100,000
Increase for taxable income$20,000
Increase for non-taxable income$5,000
Decrease for distributions($12,000)
Decrease for expenses($3,000)
Adjusted basis$110,000

Taxation of S Corp Distributions

When you own an S corporation, you pay taxes on your personal income, including distributions from the company. However, unlike a traditional C corporation, an S corporation does not pay taxes on its income. Instead, the income passes through to the shareholders, and they pay taxes on it individually.

The amount of taxes you pay on S corp distributions depends on several factors, including your filing status, income level, and the amount of the distribution.

Pass-Through Deductions and Credits

When you receive a distribution from an S corporation, you may be able to take advantage of certain pass-through deductions and credits. These deductions and credits reduce your taxable income, which can lower the amount of taxes you owe.

  • Deductions: S corporations can pass through certain deductions to their shareholders, such as the deduction for health insurance premiums and the deduction for state and local taxes.
  • Credits: S corporations can also pass through certain credits to their shareholders, such as the foreign tax credit and the research and development credit.

    Table: Tax Rates on S Corp Distributions

    | Filing Status | Tax Rate |
    | Single | 0%, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% |
    | Married Filing Jointly | 0%, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% |
    | Married Filing Separately | 0%, 10%, 12%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% |
    | Head of Household | 0%, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% |

    Stock Basis Reduction and Distributions

    Understanding the tax implications of S corporation distributions is crucial for shareholders. Here’s an explanation of how stock basis reduction impacts these distributions:

    Stock Basis:

    • The stock basis represents the shareholder’s investment in the S corporation.
    • It starts at the amount invested and increases with additional contributions and decreases with distributions.
    • A higher stock basis means a lower taxable gain on eventual stock sale.

    Distribution Types and Tax Implications:

    Distribution TypeTax Treatment
    Current earnings and profits (E&P)Non-taxable to the extent of E&P
    Accumulated adjustments account (AAA)Non-taxable
    Excess of distribution over stock basisTaxable as capital gain

    Stock Basis Reduction Rule:

    • Distributions from E&P or AAA reduce the stock basis first.
    • Only after the stock basis is depleted are distributions considered a return of capital or capital gain.
    • Distributions in excess of the stock basis are subject to capital gains tax.


    An S corporation shareholder has a stock basis of $10,000. They receive a distribution of $7,000. The corporation has $5,000 of E&P.

    • $5,000 of the distribution comes from E&P and reduces their stock basis to $5,000.
    • $2,000 of the distribution ($7,000 – $5,000) comes from AAA and is non-taxable.
    • No capital gains tax is owed because the stock basis has not been fully depleted.


    Distributions from an S corporation can have varying tax consequences depending on the source of the distribution and the shareholder’s stock basis. Understanding stock basis reduction is essential for properly managing the tax implications of these distributions.

    Well folks, there ya have it – the nitty-gritty on taxes for S Corp distributions. Hopefully, this article helped clear up any confusion and gave you a better understanding of what you’re on the hook for. Remember, taxes can be tricky, so if you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to chat with a tax professional. Thanks for reading, folks! If you’ve got more tax-related questions or want to dive deeper into the world of S Corps, be sure to swing by again soon.