Nothing's simple when it comes to the IRS. The Internal Revenue Code is thousands of pages of indecipherable rules and regulations that may or may not be written in English (it's not like anyone has actually read it). To save you the aggravation of figuring out what's what, here are five common forms with which business owners should be familiar.
W-9. Businesses use Form W-9 to collect names and taxpayer IDs from the contractors they pay. For any contractor paid more than $600.00 in a given year, the business uses the information from the W-9 to file Form 1099-MISC. Form W-9 itself is never actually filed. It usually remains on someone's desk until it is riddled with coffee stains and crumbs and is ultimately devoured by ants . . . and replaced by the W-9 submitted by the exterminators who sprayed for the infestation.
K-1. A K-1 is a partnership return but it is also filed by LLC members with their personal returns. Because LLCs are typically pass-through entities with no taxable income of their own, the form is often a completely unnecessary waste of a perfectly good sheet of paper, officially making it the most IRS thing ever.
SS-4. Use Form SS-4 to obtain an Employer Identification Number for a new entity (or for an existing business that needs to get an EIN for various reasons). You can now get an EIN online . . . but you still need a completed Form SS-4 if you are acting as a "third-party designee" on behalf of an entity in which you have no interest. (Not that the third-party designee has to file the completed form. In fact, you'll see references on most IRS forms to the "Paperwork Reduction Act", which was passed solely to hide the fact that the IRS has a blast making people complete as many useless forms as possible.)
2553. If you're electing subchapter-S corporation treatment, you'll complete Form 2553. You must list the name, address, social security number, ownership interest, end of the fiscal year, pants size, favorite ice cream, lucky numbers, astrological sign, and relationship status of each shareholder. There are strict filing deadlines for the election to be valid. It's also rumored to be used by IRS officials to determine who they might want to meet up with for a "private audit" . . . if you know what we mean. Beware of calls from IRS agents after 6:00 pm local time that begin: "Hi, baby. I'm from the IRS. How you doin?"
666. There's no Form 666. We made this one up. It's an obvious and trite reference to Satanism and the Mark of Beast, but you try writing about federal tax regulations for more than two minutes without feeling a moral abyss opening in your soul. Ha! You can't do it either.