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B3-3.4-02, Analyzing Returns for an S Corporation (02/07/2024)

This topic contains information on analyzing returns for an S corporation, including:


S corporations and some LLCs pass gains and losses on to their shareholders, who are then taxed at the tax rates for individuals. S corporations and some LLCs use IRS Form 1120S, Schedule K-1, for filing federal income tax returns for the corporation. The shareholder’s share of income or loss is carried over to IRS Form 1040, Schedule E. See  B3-3.2-02, Business StructuresB3-3.2-02, Business Structures, for more information on S corporations. A borrower with an ownership interest in an S corporation or LLC may receive income in the form of wages or dividends in addition to their proportionate share of business income (or loss) reported on Schedule K-1.

Evaluating the Business Income

When the borrower has 25% or more ownership interest in the business, the lender must perform a business cash flow analysis in order to evaluate the overall financial position of the business and confirm

  • the business income is stable and consistent, and

  • the sales and earnings trends are positive.

If the business does not meet these standards, business income cannot be used to qualify the borrower.

Borrower’s Proportionate Share of Income or Loss

The borrower’s proportionate share of income or loss is based on the borrower’s (shareholder) percentage of stock ownership in the business for the tax year as shown on IRS Form 1120S, Schedule K-1. The cash flow analysis should consider only the borrower’s proportionate share of the business income (or loss), taking into account any adjustments to the business income that are discussed below. Business income may only be used to qualify the borrower if the lender obtains documentation verifying that

  • the income was actually distributed to the borrower consistent with the level of business income reflected on Schedule K-1, or

  • the business has adequate liquidity to support the withdrawal of earnings. 

The lender may use discretion in selecting the method to confirm that the business has adequate liquidity to support the withdrawal of earnings. When business tax returns are provided, for example, the lender may calculate a ratio using a generally accepted formula that measures business liquidity by deriving the proportion of current assets available to meet current liabilities.

It is important that the lender select a business liquidity formula based on how the business operates. For example:

  • The Quick Ratio (also known as the Acid Test Ratio) is appropriate for businesses that rely heavily on inventory to generate income. This test excludes inventory from current assets in calculating the proportion of current assets available to meet current liabilities.

    Quick Ratio = (current assets — inventory) ÷ current liabilities

  • The Current Ratio (also known as the Working Capital Ratio) may be more appropriate for businesses not relying on inventory to generate income.

    Current Ratio = current assets ÷ current liabilities

While a result of one or greater is generally sufficient to confirm adequate business liquidity to support the withdrawal of earnings, lenders may support adequate liquidity using alternative methods with a documented rationale.

Adjustments to Business Cash Flow

Items that can be added back to the business cash flow include depreciation, depletion, amortization, casualty losses, and other losses that are not consistent and recurring.

The following items should be subtracted from the business cash flow:

  • travel and meals exclusion,

  • other reported income that is not consistent and recurring, and

  • the total amount of obligations on mortgages, notes, or bonds that are payable in less than one year.

These adjustments are not required for lines of credit or if there is evidence that these obligations roll over regularly and/or the business has sufficient liquid assets to cover them.

Recent Related Announcements

The table below provides references to recently issued Announcements that are related to this topic.

Announcements Issue Date
Announcement SEL-2024-01 February 07, 2024
Announcement SEL-2019-05 June 05, 2019