Calculating and Paying Quarterly Estimated Taxes

COVID-19 Update:

The IRS and the U.S. Treasury department have extended the federal April 15th filing and tax payment deadlines to July 15, 2020. Since the first estimated tax payment for 2020 was originally due April 15th, that due date is also extended to July 15th. As of now, all additional estimated tax payments are due as originally scheduled, but legislation is pending. Follow our COVID-19 and your Taxes page for updates.

If you're a freelancer or independent contractor, you're considered self-employed, which means you're responsible for paying self-employment and income taxes.

Quarterly estimated taxes help you proactively pay taxes as you earn money throughout the year.

You can print your quarterly estimated tax vouchers through TaxAct.

When to pay estimated taxes:

If you expect a tax bill of at least $1,000 after subtracting withholding and refundable credits, you'll be expected to pay taxes.

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 current tax liability or 100% percent of your previous year's tax liability (or 110% if your previous year's adjusted gross income was more than $150,000 or $75,000 if married filing separately).

Why previous year tax liability matters:

If your previous year tax liability was zero (0), you're not required to make estimated tax payments for the current year. You can still choose to make quarterly payments so you’re not faced with a huge bill at tax time.

Determining how much to pay each quarter:

Either complete the Estimated Tax Worksheet for your tax year or pay 100% percent (or 110% as described above) of your previous year's tax liability.

Calculate your total estimated tax for the year and divide that number by four. If you missed a payment, adjust subsequent payments accordingly.

Importance of meeting the payment deadline:

Even if you pay enough tax each quarter, you may still be assessed an underpayment penalty if you didn't pay the minimum required amount by the due date each quarter.

How to estimate your current year tax payments:

Sign in to your TaxAct return and follow the steps below:

  1. Click Federal. On smaller devices, click in the upper left-hand corner, then Federal.
  2. Click 20XX 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.

Options for making 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 checks or money orders. Follow the instructions below.

    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 or save icon.

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.

  1. Click Forms
  2. Expand Federal Forms and Schedules
  3. Double click Form 1040-ES - 20XX Estimated Tax Worksheet
  4. Click the Printer icon above the Form 1040-ES.

To pay quarterly taxes online:

Read about to learn more about IRS IRS Direct Pay or the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).