How to calculate estimated taxes: Calculating Quarterly Estimated Taxes

How to calculate estimated taxes

If you don’t 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. You had no tax liability for the prior year if your total tax was zero or you didn’t have to file an income tax return. For additional information on how to figure your estimated tax, refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. If you’re self-employed, you’re generally required to pay taxes in four installments a year as “estimated payments,” rather than in one lump sum. The reason it’s called “estimated” is because you’re estimating how much income you’ll make this year, and paying taxes on that amount (federal income tax, self-employment tax, and any other applicable taxes).

Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Many people still prefer physical checks, and those are accepted as well. However, due to security concerns around paper mail, the IRS strongly encourages people to make electronic payments whenever possible. Believe it or not, the IRS recently released a mobile app for taxpayers called IRS2Go.

  • If the total of your estimated payments and withholding add up to less than 90 percent of what you owe, you may face an underpayment penalty.
  • Believe it or not, the IRS recently released a mobile app for taxpayers called IRS2Go.
  • For additional information, refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.
  • If you think that you will owe money when you file your next year’s taxes, one easy way to get a jump on paying your bill is to apply your tax refund to your next year’s taxes.

Either way, you’ll use IRS Form 1040-ES to show your income estimate and project your tax liability. IRS Publication 505 has all the rules and details, and good tax software will help you fill out the form and do the math. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page.

While filing my personal tax return, how do I report the estimated payments I made during the year?

This is the main reason to stay on top of your tax payments. If you don’t pay in throughout the year, you’ll likely get hit with an underpayment penalty. That’s 0.05% of your tax due for every month it stays unpaid.

The IRS can charge you a penalty for late or inadequate payments even if you’re due a refund when you file your tax return. The Get It Back Campaign helps eligible individuals claim tax credits and use free tax filing assistance to maximize tax time. A project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Campaign partners with community organizations, businesses, government agencies, and financial institutions to conduct outreach nationally. For 30 years, these partnerships have connected lower and moderate-income people to tax benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit (CTC), and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). You have special criteria to meet, but you may end up paying less in estimated taxes.

All information on this site is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or tax advice. The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities and the CASH Campaign of Maryland are not liable for how you use this information. You can also pay by credit card online or by phone via the IRS Payments Gateway. The IRS permits you to deduct any expenses that are both ordinary and necessary in your trade or industry.


Paying 100% of the taxes you owed on last year’s federal tax return is sometimes referred to as the safe harbor rule. Even if your income grew this year, you will avoid penalties if you match the payments that you owed in the previous year (but you will still have to make up the additional tax payments). According to the IRS, you don’t have to make estimated tax payments if you’re a U.S. citizen or resident alien and you had no tax liability for the previous full tax year. And you probably don’t have to pay estimated taxes unless you have untaxed income. If you satisfy this test, you won’t have to pay an estimated tax penalty, no matter how much tax you owe with your tax return.

You may send estimated tax payments with Form 1040-ES by mail, or you can pay online, by phone or from your mobile device using the IRS2Go app. You can also make your estimated tax payments through your online account, where you can see your payment history and other tax records. For additional information, refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. To calculate your estimated taxes, you will add up your total tax liability for the current year—including self-employment tax, individual income tax, and any other taxes—and divide that number by four. In this guide, we’ll show you how to calculate and pay your federal estimated quarterly taxes, and walk you through an example that clarifies the process.

Where’s My Refund? Tracking the Status of Your Tax Return

In 2022, she was named one of CPA Practice Advisor’s 20 Under 40 Top Influencers in the field of accounting. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, Money Under 30, Best Life, GOBankingRates, and Shopify. Sarah has spent nearly a decade in public accounting experience, and has extensive experience offering strategic tax planning at the state and federal level. In her spare time, she is a devoted cat mom and enjoys hiking, painting, and overwatering her houseplants. With TurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed, work with a tax expert who understands independent contractors and freelancers.

Quarterly tax is necessary to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes and income tax because you do not have an employer withholding these taxes for you. If you expect your income this year to be less than last year and you don’t want to pay more taxes than you think you will owe at year end, you can choose to pay 90 percent of your current year tax bill. If the total of your estimated payments and withholding add up to less than 90 percent of what you owe, you may face an underpayment penalty. So you may want to avoid cutting your payments too close to the 90 percent mark to give yourself a safety net. For estimated tax purposes, the year is divided into four payment periods.

As a self-employed worker, you have to pay dues to the government yourself. These taxes are known as estimated quarterly tax payments, and the sum of these payments must match your tax liability for the year. If you have an employer and one of the forms of income listed above, you have an alternative to making estimated tax payments. You can submit a new W-4 to your employer to have additional tax withheld from your paychecks. This eliminates the need to make the quarterly estimated tax payments.

How to calculate estimated taxes

You can use it to make payments and track your refund from your phone. Meaning, your pay before taxes and other payroll deductions are taken out. Starting with a few simple inputs, this calculator provides a ballpark estimate for your quarterly tax bill. Let’s look over the key inputs to better understand exactly what goes into the results.

Just enter in all your information, and we’ll tell you how much tax you owe. Find out what adjustments and deductions are available and whether you qualify. If that happens, you’ll get the extra money back in a refund. Generally speaking, most 1099 workers will receive 20% if they have leftover business income after subtracting their write-offs.


For 1099 workers who already have a lot of stress on their plates, this approach can make a huge difference. If you receive a Form 1099 instead of a W-2 — or don’t get any form at all — you count as a 1099 worker. Please note that this calculator is intended to be used by those with incomes under $150,000. So Stephanie’s self-employment tax total is $90,000 x 92.35% x 15.3%, which works out to $12,716.59.

How do I know if I have to file quarterly tax payments?

You can also pay your estimated quarterly taxes by making a phone call. To figure your estimated tax, you must figure your expected adjusted gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions, and credits for the year. However, if your income is received unevenly during the year, you may be able to avoid or lower the penalty by annualizing your income and making unequal payments. Use Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts (or Form 2220, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Corporations), to see if you owe a penalty for underpaying your estimated tax. Please refer to the Form 1040 and 1040-SR Instructions or Form 1120 InstructionsPDF, for where to report the estimated tax penalty on your return.

Before turning your attention to 2023, the final estimated tax payment of 2022 is due on January 17th, 2023. You may have to pay estimated tax for the current year if your tax was more than zero in the prior year. See the worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals for more details on who must pay estimated tax. One important caveat—if your annual income is more than $150,000 per year, then you’re required to pay 110% of what you paid in taxes last year. In order to estimate how much income tax she will have to pay for the year, Stephanie estimates her income for the year (let’s say she expects to make 90K this year). She then subtracts any above-the-line deductions she thinks she’ll incur for the year.

Having a quarterly reason to study your income and expenses sharpens your financial focus and improves your managerial skills. To find more information about the amounts listed on line 31, look at your Schedule 3, which should be included with your tax return. We would have to ask a lot more questions to accurately forecast your tax credits.