Quarterly Estimated Taxes Guide

Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals is one of the commonly used tax forms throughout the tax year. Taxpayers who earn income that isn’t subject to federal income tax withholding need to make estimated tax payments to pay off taxes for that quarter. While an employee of someone would pay taxes from paycheck to paycheck, individuals who earn income without tax withholding need to proportionally pay each quarter’s taxes owed. 

Surely enough though, a taxpayer isn’t required to pay off the full amount as the payments are flexible but you might face underpayment penalties if you pay less than 90 percent of your tax liability for the quarter. A taxpayer who made estimated tax payments that are under his or her tax liability for the quarter should pay more than what was estimated for the next quarter. This will enable the taxpayer to even things out and avoid future penalties regarding the underpayment.

Estimated tax deadlines

The estimated tax deadlines for payment is fairly easy. Taxpayers need to pay their estimated taxes for every quarter 15 days after the quarter ends. Here is a list of estimated tax payment deadlines for every quarter.

  • April 15 (1st quarter)
  • July 15 (2nd quarter)
  • October 15 (3rd quarter)
  • January 15 (4th quarter) 

Taxpayers who don’t make their estimated tax payments by the above deadlines are subject to late-payment penalties. If estimated taxes are paid late for a quarter and you make the next quarter’s payments early, it won’t waive the late-payment penalties. That said, make sure you pay estimated tax payments on time.

Form 1040-ES PDF 2021

The below Form 1040-ES is for the 2021 tax payments (not the 2021 tax season). You’ll pay estimated taxes in 2021 and the taxes paid during the year will be used when you file a tax return in 2022.

Get Form 1040-ES for 2021 estimated taxes.

How can I pay estimated taxes online?

The Internal Revenue Service accepts tax payments online through Direct Pay. This is the only way you can pay the IRS directly but we suggest using the EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) as you’ll be able to see the history of your payments. This will enable you to adequately estimate taxes and see the total sum of taxes paid. 

What’s the late-payment penalty for estimated tax payments?

The late-payment penalty for estimated tax payments is 0.5 percent of the tax owed following the deadline. For every month taxes paid late and aren’t paid in full, the penalty will increase. The maximum penalty limit is 25 percent of the total tax owed for estimated tax payments. This is effective for every quarter that’s the payment is late so you might pay double penalties if you’re too late.

Can I pay more tax than what I estimated?

You can always pay more tax than you actually owe but it’s a question of should you? The Internal Revenue Service will keep the excess amount paid and you’ll only get a refund when you file your tax return. If you want to play it safe and get a boosted tax refund, you can pay more in estimated tax payments than you owe. This will surely boost your refund but in a way, you’ll be loaning your money away to the government. If you’re afraid of not being able to pay estimated tax payments the next quarter, you can opt for paying more so you don’t end up owing too much to the IRS when the tax season arrives.

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