How to Pay Distribution in an S-Corp: A Comprehensive Guide

An S-Corporation (S-Corp) is a popular form of business entity due to its tax advantages and flexibility. As an owner of an S-Corp, you may wonder how to pay yourself and other shareholders in the form of distributions. In this article, we will guide you through the process of paying distributions in an S-Corp and answer some frequently asked questions.

1. Determine available profits: Before making any distributions, ensure that the S-Corp has enough profits. Review the financial statements and consult with an accountant if needed.

2. Establish a distribution policy: Create a formal policy that outlines how and when distributions will be paid. This policy should be shared with all shareholders and adhered to consistently.

3. Calculate the distribution amounts: Once profits are determined, decide how much each shareholder will receive. This can be based on their ownership percentage or other agreed-upon factors.

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4. Document the distribution: To maintain accurate records, document each distribution in writing. Include the date, amount, and recipient in the company’s financial records.

5. Report distributions on Form 1120S: As an S-Corp, you must file an annual tax return (Form 1120S). Report all distributions made to shareholders on Schedule K-1.

6. Withhold taxes if necessary: Distributions are generally not subject to employment taxes. However, if a shareholder is also an employee, ensure that the appropriate taxes are withheld from their salary.

7. Communicate with shareholders: Keep shareholders informed about distributions and any changes in the company’s financial situation. Regular communication helps maintain transparency and trust.


Q1. Can an S-Corp distribute losses?
A1. No, an S-Corp can only distribute profits. Losses can be used to offset future profits or carried back or forward for tax purposes.

Q2. Are distributions taxable?
A2. Distributions are generally not subject to income taxes, but their tax treatment may vary based on individual circumstances. Consult with a tax professional for personalized advice.

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Q3. Can all shareholders receive equal distributions?
A3. Yes, distributions can be allocated equally among shareholders, but they can also be based on ownership percentages or other agreed-upon criteria.

Q4. Can a shareholder lend money to the S-Corp instead of taking a distribution?
A4. Yes, shareholders can choose to lend money to the S-Corp instead of taking a distribution. This loan should be documented and repaid according to agreed-upon terms.

Q5. Can distributions exceed profits?
A5. No, distributions cannot exceed the S-Corp’s accumulated profits. If profits are insufficient, distributions should not be made.

Q6. Can distributions be made in cash or other forms?
A6. Distributions can be made in cash, property, or other assets, as long as the total value does not exceed the available profits.

Q7. Are distributions considered deductible expenses for the S-Corp?
A7. No, distributions are not deductible expenses for the S-Corp. They are treated as a reduction of a shareholder’s basis in their S-Corp stock.

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Remember, paying distributions in an S-Corp requires careful consideration of various factors. Consult with professionals, such as accountants and tax advisors, to ensure compliance with regulations and maximize the benefits for all shareholders.