A partnership is the relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.
A partnership does not pay any income tax at the partnership level. Partnerships file Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, to report income and expenses. This is an information return. The partnership passes the information to the individual partners on Schedule K-1, Partner’s Share of Income, Credits, and Deductions. Partnerships are often referred to as pass-through or flow-through entities for this reason.
Each partner reports his share of the partnership net profit or loss on his personal Form 1040 tax return. Partners must report their share of partnership income even if a distribution is not made.
Partners are not employees of the partnership and so taxes are not withheld from any distributions. Like sole proprietors, partners generally need to make quarterly estimated tax payments if they expect to make a profit.
General partners must pay self-employment tax on their net earnings from self employment assigned to them from the partnership. Net earnings from self- employment include an individual’s share, distributed or not, of income or loss from any trade or business carried on by a partnership.
Limited partners are subject to self-employment tax only on guaranteed payments, such as professional fees for services rendered.