Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough.
Estimated tax is used to pay both income tax and self-employment tax, as well as other taxes and amounts reported on your tax return. If you do not pay enough through withholding or estimated tax payments, you may be charged a penalty. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return.
Who Must Pay Estimated Tax
If you had a tax liability for 2008, you may have to pay estimated tax for 2009.
You must pay estimated tax for 2009 if both of the following apply.
- You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for 2009 after subtracting your withholding and credits.
- You expect your withholding and credits to be less than the smaller of;
- 90% of the tax to be shown on your 2009 tax return, or
- 100% of the tax shown on your 2008 tax return. Your 2008 tax return must cover all 12 months.
Sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation shareholders – You generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure and pay your estimated tax.
Corporations – You generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return. Use Form 1120-W, Estimated Tax for Corporations (PDF), to figure the estimated tax. You must deposit the payments.
Who Does Not Have To Pay Estimated Tax
If you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to take more tax out of your earnings. To do this, file a new Form W-4 (PDF) with your employer. There is a special line on Form W-4 for you to enter the additional amount you want your employer to withhold.
Estimated tax not required
You do not have to pay estimated tax for 2009 if you meet all three of the following conditions.
- You have no tax liability for 2008
- You were a US citizen or resident for the whole year
- Your 2008 tax year covered a 12 month period
You had no tax liability for 2008 if your total tax was zero or you did not have to file an income tax return.
Estimated tax requirements are different for farmers and fishermen.
How To Figure Estimated Tax
To figure your estimated tax, you must figure your expected adjusted gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions, and credits for the year.
When figuring your 2009 estimated tax, it may be helpful to use your income, deductions, and credits for 2008 as a starting point. Use your 2008 federal tax return as a guide. You can use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES (PDF) to figure your estimated tax. If you estimated your earnings too high, simply complete another Form 1040-ES worksheet to refigure your estimated tax for the next quarter. If you estimated your earnings too low, again complete another Form 1040-ES worksheet to recalculate your estimated taxes for the next quarter. You want to estimate your income as close as you can to avoid penalties.
You must make adjustments both for changes in your own situation and for recent changes in the tax law.
When To Pay Estimated Taxes
For estimated tax purposes, the year is divided into four payment periods. Each period has a specific payment due date. If you do not pay enough tax by the due date of each of the payment periods, you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your income tax return.
Using the EFTPS system is the easiest way to pay your federal taxes for individuals as well as businesses. Make ALL of your federal tax payments including federal tax deposits (FTDs), installment agreement and estimated tax payments using Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If it is easier to pay your estimated taxes weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. you can, as long as you have paid enough in by the end of the quarter. Using EFTPS, you can access a history of your payments, so you know how much and when you made your estimated tax payments.