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Breaking Down IRS Form 720: IRS Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return Guide

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What You Should Know About IRS Form 720: A Comprehensive Guide to Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Returns



This article delves into the intricacies of IRS Form 720, a critical component for businesses handling certain goods and services. With its relevance in excise taxes, understanding how to file this quarterly federal excise tax return properly is essential. We’ll explore why mastering Form 720 is crucial for compliance and financial health.

What is IRS Form 720?

IRS Form 720, officially titled the Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, is a pivotal tax form for reporting and remitting federal excise taxes. These taxes are levied on various goods, services, and activities, including environmental products, air transportation, and indoor tanning services. The form is segmented into several parts, each corresponding to different types of excise taxes. It's imperative to understand the intricacies of Form 720, as it encompasses many industries and is integral to federal tax compliance. The form's applicability to 2023 tax obligations makes it particularly relevant for current business operations.

Who Needs to File Form 720?

The necessity to file Form 720 extends to businesses involved in specific goods and services subject to federal excise tax. Ascertaining whether your business operations mandate filing Form 720 is the first crucial step in ensuring compliance. Understanding the nuances of what constitutes 'subject to excise' and 'subject to excise tax' is paramount for businesses to determine their tax liabilities accurately.

Type of Business Reason for Filing Form 720
Manufacturers To report excise taxes on the sale of certain taxable products, such as fuel, alcohol, and tobacco.
Retailers To report excise taxes on the sale of certain taxable products, such as fuel, alcohol, and tobacco.
Airlines To report excise taxes on passenger transportation.
Freight forwarders To report excise taxes on the transportation of goods.
Communication service providers To report excise taxes on the sale of telephone and other communication services.
Insurance companies To report excise taxes on premiums.
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) To report excise taxes on income from real estate investments.
Other businesses To report excise taxes on other taxable activities, such as the use of highway vehicles.

Understanding the Different Types of Excise Taxes

Excise taxes, which are imposed on various goods and services, vary widely. They can include environmental taxes, communication taxes, and air transportation taxes. Each of these categories follows its own distinct rules and rate structures. Therefore, a thorough grasp of these various excise tax types is essential for precise tax reporting and compliance, especially as they apply to the tax year 2023.

Type of Excise Tax Examples of Goods or Services Taxed Purpose of Excise Tax
Specific Excise Tax Gasoline tax, Cigarette tax, Alcohol tax, Tire tax To generate revenue and discourage consumption of certain goods or services
Ad Valorem Excise Tax Luxury car tax, Private jet tax, Yacht tax To generate revenue and discourage consumption of certain goods or services
Gross Receipts Tax Hotel occupancy tax, Restaurant tax, Concert ticket tax To generate revenue
Excise Taxes on Activities Gambling tax, Highway use tax, Fishing license tax, Hunting license tax To generate revenue and/or discourage certain activities

Examples of Specific Excise Taxes:

  • Gasoline tax
  • Cigarette tax
  • Alcohol tax
  • Tire tax

Examples of Ad Valorem Excise Taxes:

  • Luxury car tax
  • Private jet tax
  • Yacht tax

Examples of Gross Receipts Taxes:

  • Hotel occupancy tax
  • Restaurant tax
  • Concert ticket tax

Examples of Excise Taxes on Activities:

  • Gambling tax
  • Highway use tax
  • Fishing license tax
  • Hunting license tax

The Filing Process: Step-by-Step Guide to Fill out IRS Form 720

Navigating the filing process of Form 720 can be complex. Our step-by-step guide simplifies this task, covering everything from gathering the necessary information to meticulously filling out each form section. This approach emphasizes the importance of accuracy and thoroughness to avoid common errors, ensuring a smooth filing process.

Step Description

Key Due Dates for Tax Form 720

Adhering to filing deadlines is critical. Form 720 must be filed quarterly, with due dates typically falling on the last day of the month following the quarter's end. We provide a detailed outline of these crucial dates to help businesses maintain timely compliance in their tax preparation and submission processes.

Quarter Covered Period Due Date

Common Mistakes to Avoid When You Fill out Form 720

Small errors in filing can have significant consequences, including delays and penalties. This section addresses common filing mistakes such as incorrect calculations, incomplete information, and missed deadlines. Awareness of these pitfalls is key to a successful filing experience.

Common Mistake Description How to Avoid
Incorrect reporting Entering inaccurate or incomplete information on the form, such as wrong taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) or incorrect amounts. Carefully review all information before submitting the form. Double-check TINs and ensure amounts are accurate.
Filing too early Submitting the form before having all the necessary information or documentation. Wait until you have all the required information and documentation before filing the form.
Not reviewing instructions Failing to read and understand the IRS instructions for Form 720. Thoroughly read and comprehend the IRS instructions to ensure proper completion of the form.
Late payments Making excise tax payments after the due date. Familiarize yourself with excise tax due dates and make payments promptly to avoid penalties and interest.
Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers (SSNs) Entering incorrect SSNs for yourself or dependents. Double-check SSNs for accuracy to prevent processing delays and potential eligibility issues for tax credits or deductions.
Math errors Making mistakes in calculations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Use a calculator or tax software to ensure accurate calculations. Carefully review all calculations before submitting the form.
Omitting required forms or schedules Failing to attach necessary forms or schedules. Review the IRS instructions to ensure you have included all required forms and schedules.
Not signing the form Failing to sign the form electronically or with a wet signature. Review the form before submitting to ensure it has been signed appropriately.
Using the wrong form or version Using an outdated form or the incorrect form for your specific excise tax liability. Download the latest version of Form 720 from the IRS website and ensure it matches your excise tax liability type.

Employer Identification Number: Why It's Essential

For filing Form 720, having an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is mandatory. This part of the article explains the role of the EIN in the filing process and how businesses can obtain one if they don't already have it. This is particularly important for new or small businesses unfamiliar with tax filing requirements.

Business Tax Post-Filing: What Happens After You Submit Form 720?

After submission, understanding the subsequent steps, including IRS acknowledgments and the possibility of audits, is crucial. We guide businesses through the post-submission phase, outlining their expectations and how to prepare for any potential follow-up inquiries or audits.

Key Takeaways: Navigating IRS Form 720 Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return

  • File Form 720: Businesses dealing in specific goods and services subject to excise tax must file Form 720 quarterly.
  • Tax Professional Consultation: Seeking advice from a tax pro is advisable for complex filing scenarios or significant excise tax liabilities.
  • Understanding Excise Tax Liability: Knowing the excise taxes listed on Form 720 and their applicability to your business is crucial for accurate tax reporting.
  • Taxpayer Awareness: Excise tax is often included in the price of goods and services, and taxpayers must be aware of this while filing.
  • Filing for Tax Year 2022 and Beyond: Businesses must stay current with filing requirements for each tax year, including 2022 and subsequent years.
  • Completing Form 720: Filling out IRS Form 720 accurately requires carefully following the form's instructions and understanding the specific excise taxes applicable.
  • Federal Excise Taxes: These taxes apply to a range of goods and services and must be reported and paid as per IRS regulations.
  • Business Tax Compliance: Compliance with federal tax requirements, including excise taxes, is a key aspect of business tax responsibilities.
  • Tax Preparation Process: Preparation for filing Form 720 involves gathering relevant data on taxable goods and services and understanding the tax rates and rules.
  • Quarterly Tax Payments: Form 720 is filed quarterly, and businesses must make excise tax payments accordingly.
  • Adhering to IRS Instructions: Form 720 instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offer detailed guidance for accurate filing.
  • Meeting Due Dates: Form 720 is due on the last day of the month following the end of the quarter, and adhering to these deadlines is crucial to avoid penalties.
  • Representing Before the IRS: In disputes or audits, having a tax professional represent you before the IRS can be beneficial.
  • Reporting and Payment Methods: Businesses must report the tax amount owed and can use methods such as electronic funds transfer for payment.
  • Foreign Life Insurance Filing: Companies in this category face unique challenges when filing Form 720 and must adhere to specific IRS regulations.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): Obtaining an EIN is essential for businesses filing Form 720, as the IRS requires.
  • Understanding Various Excise Taxes: Identifying the type of excise tax your business may owe is important, which can vary based on the goods and services offered.
  • Filing Process for Excise Taxes: The process of filing Form 720 involves reporting the excise tax every quarter and ensuring smooth and accurate filing.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer for Payments: Electronic funds transfer is a secure and efficient way to make excise tax payments to the IRS.
  • Tax Implications Based on Sales or Weight: Some excise taxes are calculated based on unit sales or weight, requiring accurate record-keeping.
  • Quarterly and Semi-Monthly Filings: While Form 720 is filed quarterly, certain excise taxes may need to be paid semi-monthly.
  • IRS Flexibility in Payments: The IRS allows businesses to delay payment until they accumulate a certain amount in excise taxes.
  • Schedule C and Form 1040 Relations: For individual taxpayers, the relationship between Schedule C and Form 1040 is important in business income and expenses related to excise taxes.
  • Excise Taxes Resembling State Sales Tax: Federal excise taxes resemble state sales taxes, as they are often included in the price of goods and services.

By understanding these key aspects, businesses can ensure compliance with federal excise tax requirements, effectively manage their tax liabilities, and maintain smooth operations when dealing with IRS Form 720.

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Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

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November 28, 2023


Steven de la Fe, CPA

Steven de la Fe, CPA


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