IRS Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments: 1040-ES Guide & Dates

irs estimated quarterly taxes guideThe IRS requires some taxpayers to make estimated quarterly tax payments. Staying on top of your quarterly payments will help ensure you pay no unnecessary penalties at the end of the year for underpayment. Here’s a look at who needs to make these payments, how to figure out what how much to pay, various options to pay what is due, and when they are due.

Who Has to Make Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments?

As a general rule of thumb, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, and anyone whose employer does not withhold tax from their paycheck need to pay estimated quarterly income taxes. Corporations also need to make estimated quarterly payments. However, requirements vary based on how much you owe.

If you are going to owe less than $1,000, you can wait until April and pay your income tax in a lump sum. Additionally, if it’s your first year owing more than $1,000 in income tax, you can also wait until April.

However, if you owed more than $1,000 the previous year, you need to make quarterly payments equal to 100% of that year’s tax due. Alternatively, you can pay 90% of the current year’s tax liability. You need to pay at least the smaller of those two amounts.

How Much Are My Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments?

To figure out your estimated quarterly tax payments, use Form 1040 ES (Estimated Tax for Individuals) or Form 1120-W (Estimated Tax for Corporations).

Form 1040ES requests your expected income for the upcoming tax year, and it helps you figure out your Social Security contributions and Medicare payments. Then, the form guides you through a number of calculations related to deductions and credits.

These steps generate your estimated income tax for the year. Finally, you multiply that amount by 90% and divide it by four. The result is your estimated quarterly tax payment.

With Form 1040ES, you make the same payment four times per year. If your income fluctuates throughout the year, you may not be able to afford to make equal payments. In these cases, you can make different payments each quarter.

How Do I Make Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments If My Income Fluctuates?

The IRS allows you to make estimated quarterly payments based on your income for each quarter. To calculate that, you need to use the Annualized ES Worksheet (Worksheet 2-9) for the tax year in question. This form requires similar information as Form 1040-ES, but it breaks everything down quarterly rather than annually.

How Do I Make My Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments?

The IRS allows you to submit estimated quarterly tax payments in the following ways:

Pay Estimated Taxes by Mail

To make your estimated quarterly tax payments by mail, tear off the voucher at the bottom of Form 1040-ES and mail it to the IRS. Include a check or money order for your payment. You don’t have to include the worksheet with your calculations. To be considered on time, the form must be postmarked by the due date.

Pay Estimated Taxes by Direct Debit

You can set up automatic payments from your bank account at IRS.gov/payments. There is no fee for this service.

Pay Estimated Taxes via Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)

You can make quarterly payments through the EFTPS over the phone at 1-800-555-4477 or online. Before making a payment, you need to sign up for the service. To do that, sign up online, or call the above phone number to have a signup form mailed to you. For online enrollment, you need your name, Social Security number, and bank account details. The IRS sends you a PIN (personal identification number) in the mail to complete your enrollment.

Pay Estimated Taxes by Credit Card

You can’t make credit card payments directly to the IRS. However, you can make credit card payments through one of these service providers: payUSAtax.com, OfficialPayments.com, or PAY1040.com. There is a convenience fee for all these services.

Pay Estimated Taxes by Mobile App

With the IRS2Go app, you can make payments using your mobile phone. The app allows you to set up free Direct Debit payments. Alternatively, you can use one of the IRS’s payment processors to make credit card payments through the app.

Pay Estimated Taxes by Cash

You can make cash payments at participating retailers. At the time of publication, that only refers to participating 711 locations. Payments must be $1,000 or less.

When Are Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments Due?

Payments for the January 1 to March 31 period are due April 15; for April 1 to May 31, payments are due June 15; for June 1 to August 31, payments are due September 15; and for September 1 to December 31, payments are due January 15 of the following calendar year.

When these dates fall on a holiday or a weekend, the due date moves to the next business day. Here are the due dates for tax years 2017 through 2019.

Due Dates for 2017 Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments:

  • Q1: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
  • Q2: Thursday, June 15, 2017
  • Q3: Friday, September 15, 2017
  • Q4: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Due Dates for 2018 Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments:

  • Q1: Monday, April 16, 2018
  • Q2: Friday, June 15, 2018
  • Q3: Monday, September 17, 2018
  • Q4: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Due Dates for 2019 Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments:

  • Q1: Monday, April 15, 2019
  • Q2: Monday, June 17, 2019
  • Q3: Monday, September 16, 2019
  • Q4: Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If you file your federal income tax return by the last day of January, you can skip the mid-January payment. Instead, you can make that payment and any remaining amount due on January 31.

These due dates only apply if your business uses the calendar year. Therefore, if you use a different fiscal period, your due dates may vary.