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When you are a freelancer or an independent contractor, you’re considered self-employed. And like most business owners, it also means you're responsible for paying self-employment and income taxes. Quarterly estimated taxes help you proactively pay those taxes as you earn money throughout the year.

Do I need to pay estimated taxes?

In most cases, you must pay estimated taxes if you expect a tax bill of at least $1,000 after subtracting any withholding and refundable credits. Even if you owe more than $1,000 when you file, you won’t be assessed an underpayment penalty if your total withholding and timely estimated tax payments equal at least 90 percent of your expected 2019 tax liability, or 100 percent of your 2018 tax liability (or 110% if your 2018 AGI was more than $150,000 or $75,000 if married filing separately).

That means if your 2018 tax liability was zero, you are not required to make estimated tax payments for 2019. However, you may still choose to make quarterly payments so you’re not faced with a huge bill at tax time.

How do I know how much to pay each quarter?

You can either complete the 2019 Estimated Tax Worksheet or pay 100 percent (or 110 percent as described above) of your 2018 tax liability. Once you calculate your total estimated tax for the year, simply divide that number by four. If you missed a payment, be sure to adjust the subsequent payments accordingly.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Even if you pay sufficient tax for the entire year by the fourth quarter, you may still be assessed an underpayment penalty if you did not pay the minimum required amount by the due date each quarter. All taxpayers are expected to pay taxes as they earn income throughout the year.

To estimate your 2019 tax payments, sign in to your 2018 TaxAct return and follow the steps below:

  1. Click Federal. Note. on smaller devices, click the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner, then select Federal.
  2. Click 2019 Estimated Tax Payments, then click Yes in the Federal Quick Q&A Topics menu.
  3. The program will proceed with the interview questions for you to enter or review the applicable information.

What are my payment options?

Once you calculate how much to pay each quarter, there are several ways to make estimated tax payments.

If you figure your quarterly payments with TaxAct, you can print the payment vouchers and mail them to the IRS along with a check or money order.

    1. From within your TaxAct Online return, click Print Center in the left column.
    2. Click Custom
    3. Check the box next to Federal Form 1040-ES in the top section. You may need to scroll down in the section to locate the item.
    4. Click Print and then click the PDF link. Click the printer icon or the save icon (available when you hover your mouse over the bottom of the PDF form) to print or save the PDF copy. 
Note: If you see a message indicating you have not paid your return fees, click the View/Pay link, which will direct you through the Paper Filing steps. Continue through the screens until you have processed the payment for your product fees and then repeat the steps to print. 

Desktop Navigation Instructions
  1. Click Forms
  2. Expand Federal Forms and Schedules
  3. Double click Form 1040-ES - 2019 Estimated Tax Worksheet
  4. Click on the Printer icon above the Form 1040-ES.

If you prefer to pay online, visit to learn more about IRS Direct Pay or Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Note. Enrollment is required for EFTPS.

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