Time to Think About Estimated Income Taxes — Again

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. So does the September 15th deadline for individuals to pay their third quarterly estimated income tax payments for 2019.  That’s right; those tax payments are due before your sun tan fades. The sad news is, the IRS and state tax agencies want you to pay your taxes as income comes in.

Estimated tax payments are due April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15, unless, those dates fall on a weekend or a holiday. Technology makes the process a little less painful, with various online payment options. Of course, the IRS and state tax agencies still take checks. Some options, like credit cards, add service fees.

Three things to know about estimated tax payments:

Who Needs to Pay Estimated Taxes?

If all of your income comes from wages, the taxes that your employer withholds and remits for you probably cover your income tax liability. (More on withholdings later.) If you are self-employed or receive investment or rental income, you should check whether you need to make estimated income tax payments. The IRS website explains how to see if estimated payments apply to you and how to estimate federal income tax at this link

How Much Do You Need to Pay?

Estimated tax payments are based on your estimated income and tax liability. To avoid underpayment penalties, pay estimated taxes if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax after subtracting withholding and refundable credits. Total withholdings and estimated payments must equal or exceed the lesser of 90% of your current year tax liability, or 100% of your prior year tax liability. Figure your 2019 federal income tax bill with the IRS Withholding Estimator – https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator.

What if You Don’t Pay Enough?

Interest is calculated on the unpaid balance due, accrued daily from the time the tax liability was created (aka when your income was earned or received) and when it is paid. Daily interest accruals can really add to your tax bill, so staying on top of your income tax payments is important. Annualized interest rates charged vary with market rates. At this writing, the IRS accrues 5% annual interest on unpaid individual income tax balances. Clearly, the IRS is serious about getting paid on time. 
If you paid a lot when you filed your 2018 income tax return or have income from which taxes are not withheld, use the links above to see if you need to make estimated tax payments for 2019. Don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself? The IRS can also help you find a qualified tax professional – here https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional.