The U.S. tax system operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that taxpayers need to pay most of their tax during the year, as the income is earned or received. Taxpayers must generally pay at least 90 percent of their taxes throughout the year through withholding, estimated or additional tax payments or a combination of the two. If they don’t, they may owe an estimated tax penalty when they file.
Taxpayers can pay their taxes throughout the year anytime. They must select the tax year and tax type or form when paying electronically. Filers paying by check should make it out to the “United States Treasury” and indicate the tax year and type of taxes they are paying.
Taxpayers who pay taxes through a combination of withholding and estimated tax payments should do a Paycheck Checkup. They can do a checkup using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. Doing so now can help the taxpayer avoid an unexpected tax bill and possibly a penalty when the taxpayer’s 2018 tax return is filed next year.
Here are some examples of people who may need to make estimated tax payments:
Individuals — including sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders — may need to pay quarterly installments of estimated tax if:
- they expect to owe at least $1,000 when they file their tax return
- they owed additional tax when they filed their tax return last year
Other taxpayers who may need to make estimated payments include those who:
- have more than one job, but don’t have each employer withhold taxes
- are self-employed
- are independent contractors
- are representatives of a direct-sales or in-home-sales company
- participate in sharing economy activities where they are not working as employees
For tax year 2018, the remaining estimated tax payment due dates are Sept. 17, 2018 and Jan. 15, 2019.