Self-Employed? First Quarter Estimated Tax Payment Deadline is April 18

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For those unaware, April 18 is the deadline for filing 2021 tax returns. For some taxpayers, it is also the date when their first estimated quarterly tax payment is due.

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Estimated quarterly tax payments are “pay-as-you-go” installments made throughout the year on income that hasn’t had withholdings taken by an employer. Most commonly, this is the case concerning income earned by the self-employed.

Anyone who earns income must pay most of their income tax during the year as the income is earned. For many workers, this happens automatically through withholding by your employer. You do not need to pay estimated quarterly tax payments if “you were a U.S. citizen or resident alien for all of 2021 and you had no tax liability for the full 12-month 2021 tax year,” per the IRS.

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The self-employed — and business owners — who earn income that is not subject to withholding, however, will need to estimate their tax liability. This is done through payments made throughout the year rather than paying it all in full at year-end. Estimated quarterly taxpayers include self-employed individuals, landlords, independent contractors, investors and people who earn royalties.

Generally, you will need to pay estimated quarterly tax payments if you meet both of the following two requirements:

  • You expect a tax liability of greater than $1,000 ($500 for corporations) after any withholding and refundable credits.
  • You expect federal withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of 90% of your current year’s tax liability or 100% of your prior year’s tax liability.

Those who see earnings withheld by employers but have additional income (i.e.: rental property income, divided income) may need to pay quarterly estimates to cover tax liabilities not covered by earnings withheld. Others, who have opted to not have voluntary withholding, should make estimated tax payments on other taxable income, like unemployment compensation and the taxable part of your Social Security benefits.

To calculate your federal quarterly estimated tax payments, you must estimate your adjusted gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions and credits for the calendar year 2022. The IRS Form 1040-ES includes an Estimated Tax Worksheet to help you calculate your federal estimated tax payments.

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See: Understanding Pre- and Post-Tax Deductions on Your Paycheck
Find: Track Your Tax Refund with Free Tools From the IRS and USPS

April 18 is the payment due date covering the pay period starting Jan. 1 and ending March 2022. The other quarterly filing dates for 2022 pay periods are: June 15 for the pay period ranging from April 1 through May 31, Sept. 15 for the third quarter pay period ranging from June 1 through August 31, and Jan. 17, 2023, for pay earned between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022. Note that you do not have to make this last quarter payment due on Jan. 17 if you file your tax return by Jan. 31, 2023 — and pay the entire balance with your return at that time. Late payments are subject to interest and penalty.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.

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