Attention: This publication will no longer be revised on an annual basis. The information contained in this publication no longer requires annual updates. To find changes that may affect current year returns, see What's New in your income tax return instructions; Publication 553; What's Hot in Tax Forms, Pubs, and Other Tax Products at www.irs.gov/formspubs. The information removed from this publication is available in the Instructions for Form 1065 and Partner's Instructions for Schedule K-1 (Form 1065). To comment on this revision process, see Comments and Suggestions on page 2.
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This publication provides supplemental federal income tax information for partnerships and partners. It supplements the information provided in the instructions for Form 1065, U. S. Return of Partnership Income, and the Partner's Instructions for Schedule K-1 (Form 1065). Generally, a partnership does not pay tax on its income but "passes through" any profits or losses to its partners. Partners must include partnership items on their tax returns.
For a discussion of business expenses a partnership can deduct, see Publication 535, Business Expenses. Members of oil and gas partnerships should read about the deduction for depletion in chapter 9 of that publication.
Certain partnerships must have a tax matters partner (TMP) who is also a general partner. For information on the rules for designating a TMP, see Designation of Tax Matters Partner (TMP) in the Form 1065 instructions and section 301.6231(a)(7)-1 of the regulations.
Many rules in this publication do not apply to partnerships that file Form 1065-B, U.S. Return of Income for Electing Large Partnerships. For the rules that apply to these partnerships, see the instructions for Form 1065-B. However, the partners of electing large partnerships can use the rules in this publication except as otherwise noted.
If a partnership acquires a U.S. real property interest from a foreign person or firm, the partnership may have to withhold tax on the amount it pays for the property (including cash, the fair market value of other property, and any assumed liability). If a partnership has income effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States, it must withhold on the income allocable to its foreign partners. A partnership may have to withhold tax on a foreign partner's distributive share of fixed or determinable income not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. A partnership that fails to withhold may be held liable for the tax, applicable penalties, and interest.
For more information, see Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104198
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You may want to see:
Publication 334 Tax Guide for Small Business 505 Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax 535 Business Expenses 537 Installment Sales 538 Accounting Periods and Methods 544 Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets 551 Basis of Assets 925 Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules 946 How To Depreciate Property
See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication for information about getting publications and forms.taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104201
The following sections contain general information about partnerships.taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104202
An unincorporated organization with two or more members is generally classified as a partnership for federal tax purposes if its members carry on a trade, business, financial operation, or venture and divide its profits. However, a joint undertaking merely to share expenses is not a partnership. For example, co-ownership of property maintained and rented or leased is not a partnership unless the co-owners provide services to the tenants.
The rules you must use to determine whether an organization is classified as a partnership changed for organizations formed after 1996. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104203
An organization formed after 1996 is classified as a partnership for federal tax purposes if it has two or more members and it is none of the following.
- An organization formed under a federal or state law that refers to it as incorporated or as a corporation, body corporate, or body politic.
- An organization formed under a state law that refers to it as a joint-stock company or joint-stock association.
- An insurance company.
- Certain banks.
- An organization wholly owned by a state or local government.
- An organization specifically required to be taxed as a corporation by the Internal Revenue Code (for example, certain publicly traded partnerships).
- Certain foreign organizations identified in section 301.7701-2(b)(8) of the regulations.
- A tax-exempt organization.
- A real estate investment trust.
- An organization classified as a trust under section 301.7701-4 of the regulations or otherwise subject to special treatment under the Internal Revenue Code.
- Any other organization that elects to be classified as a corporation by filing Form 8832.
For more information, see the instructions for Form 8832.
A limited liability company (LLC) is an entity formed under state law by filing articles of organization as an LLC. Unlike a partnership, none of the members of an LLC are personally liable for its debts. An LLC may be classified for federal income tax purposes as either a partnership, a corporation, or an entity disregarded as an entity separate from its owner by applying the rules in regulations section 301.7701-3. See Form 8832 and section 301.7701-3 of the regulations for more details.
A domestic LLC with at least two members that does not file Form 8832 is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes.
An organization formed before 1997 and classified as a partnership under the old rules will generally continue to be classified as a partnership as long as the organization has at least two members and does not elect to be classified as a corporation by filing Form 8832. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104207
A husband and wife who own a qualified entity (defined later) can choose to classify the entity as a partnership for federal tax purposes by filing the appropriate partnership tax returns. They can choose to classify the entity as a sole proprietorship by filing a Schedule C (Form 1040) listing one spouse as the sole proprietor. A change in reporting position will be treated for federal tax purposes as a conversion of the entity.
A qualified entity is a business entity that meets all the following requirements.
- The business entity is wholly owned by a husband and wife as community property under the laws of a state, a foreign country, or a possession of the United States.
- No person other than one or both spouses would be considered an owner for federal tax purposes.
- The business entity is not treated as a corporation.
For more information about community property, see Publication 555, Community Property. Publication 555 discusses the community property laws of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104208
Members of a family can be partners. However, family members (or any other person) will be recognized as partners only if one of the following requirements is met.
- If capital is a material income-producing factor, they acquired their capital interest in a bona fide transaction (even if by gift or purchase from another family member), actually own the partnership interest, and actually control the interest.
- If capital is not a material income-producing factor, they joined together in good faith to conduct a business. They agreed that contributions of each entitle them to a share in the profits, and some capital or service has been (or is) provided by each partner.
Capital is a material income-producing factor if a substantial part of the gross income of the business comes from the use of capital. Capital is ordinarily an income-producing factor if the operation of the business requires substantial inventories or investments in plants, machinery, or equipment. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104210
In general, capital is not a material income-producing factor if the income of the business consists principally of fees, commissions, or other compensation for personal services performed by members or employees of the partnership. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104211
A capital interest in a partnership is an interest in its assets that is distributable to the owner of the interest in either of the following situations.
- The owner withdraws from the partnership.
- The partnership liquidates.
The mere right to share in earnings and profits is not a capital interest in the partnership. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104212
If a family member (or any other person) receives a gift of a capital interest in a partnership in which capital is a material income-producing factor, the donee's distributive share of partnership income is subject to both of the following restrictions.
- It must be figured by reducing the partnership income by reasonable compensation for services the donor renders to the partnership.
- The donee's distributive share of partnership income attributable to donated capital must not be proportionately greater than the donor's distributive share attributable to the donor's capital.
For purposes of determining a partner's distributive share, an interest purchased by one family member from another family member is considered a gift from the seller. The fair market value of the purchased interest is considered donated capital. For this purpose, members of a family include only spouses, ancestors, and lineal descendants (or a trust for the primary benefit of those persons). taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104214
A father sold 50% of his business to his son. The resulting partnership had a profit of $60,000. Capital is a material income-producing factor. The father performed services worth $24,000, which is reasonable compensation, and the son performed no services. The $24,000 must be allocated to the father as compensation. Of the remaining $36,000 of profit due to capital, at least 50%, or $18,000, must be allocated to the father since he owns a 50% capital interest. The son's share of partnership profit cannot be more than $18,000. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104215
If spouses carry on a business together and share in the profits and losses, they may be partners whether or not they have a formal partnership agreement. If so, they should report income or loss from the business on Form 1065. They should not report the income on a Schedule C (Form 1040) in the name of one spouse as a sole proprietor. However, the husband and wife can elect not to treat the joint venture as a partnership if they meet each of the following requirements.
- The only members of the joint venture are the husband and wife.
- The filing status of the husband and wife is married filing jointly.
- Both spouses materially participate in the trade or business (see Passive Activity Limitations in the Instructions for Form 1065 for a definition of material participation).
- Both spouses elect this treatment.
If both spouses elect this treatment, all income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits are divided based on each spouse's interest in the joint venture and both are treated as sole proprietors for both income and self-employment tax.
If the husband and wife do not make the election to treat their joint venture as sole proprietorships, each spouse should carry his or her share of the partnership income or loss from Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) to their joint or separate Form(s) 1040. Each spouse should include his or her respective share of self-employment income on a separate Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax. This generally does not increase the total tax on the return, but it does give each spouse credit for social security earnings on which retirement benefits are based. taxmap/pubs/p541-000.htm#en_us_publink1000104216
The partnership agreement includes the original agreement and any modifications. The modifications must be agreed to by all partners or adopted in any other manner provided by the partnership agreement. The agreement or modifications can be oral or written.
Partners can modify the partnership agreement for a particular tax year after the close of the year but not later than the date for filing the partnership return for that year. This filing date does not include any extension of time.
If the partnership agreement or any modification is silent on any matter, the provisions of local law are treated as part of the agreement.