Carnival of Homeowners
Women, men and money

1040ES payment #3 reminder

I'm a wife, so I know how to nag. The hubby's just glad this time, it's not him I'm "reminding."

No, my target today is all my fellow taxpayers who have to make estimated tax payments. As mentioned last week, payment #3 is due Monday, Sept. 17.


If you mail in the 1040ES voucher and a paper check, you can get it in the mail so that it's postmarked on that date.

If, however, you were able to set up an e-payment account via EFTPS, then you probably want to sign on to your account today and get things in motion so that your payment will go through on Monday. I sent our electronic payment instructions last night.

Following my previous estimated payment posting, Steve e-mailed me to ask about what happens if you haven't been making estimated payments because you were pretty sure you were going to meet the safe harbor threshold of owing less than $1,000 at tax time, but then find your bill will be over that.

If you do encounter unexpected income -- Lucky you! Not that you owe taxes, but that you're getting added cash. -- and it doesn't have taxes taken out, you can start making the estimated payments for the quarter in which you get that money, even if you haven't previously paid.

So if, say, you sold a stock last month and made out quite nicely, you can send in your 1040ES voucher #3 (download it here) and the appropriate amount on Monday.

Adjust your withholding: You also can bump up your payroll withholding at your workplace. The IRS doesn't really care about the mechanism via which it gets your tax money; it just wants it, ideally, as you get the income.

So filling out a new W-4 and having a few extra bucks withheld to cover your other untaxed income is OK by Uncle Sam.

You also are tax-compliant in the IRS's eyes as long as you pay either 90 percent of your eventual tax bill or, as long as you make $150,000 or less, you pay a "safe harbor" amount of 100 percent of your previous year's tax bill. The percentage is 110 if you make more than $150K.

It's generally easier to go with the 100 or 110 percent amount, since you can pull out your 2006 return and see what you owed. Pay at least that amount (or 10 percent more) via estimated taxes or withholding, and you're clear, regardless of what your final 2007 tax liability turns out to be.

And for you readers who live in states that collect income taxes, remember that you'll likely owe state estimated taxes next week along with your federal filing.

More on estimated taxes can be found at this IRS Web page and in this story.


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Steve Austin

Thanks for elaborating. Your article was informative, and I think I like the annualized income method. By that method, my current (through 31 Aug) tax liability is between $700-$750, but I estimate it will be very close to $1000 by 31 Dec. If I take some capital gains between now and 31 Dec, I'll probably exceed safe harbor.

Based on your post, I believe that I'd owe by 15 Jan any amount over $1000, and the remaining $1000 balance by Tax Filing Day. Pub. 505 also tells me that I may, if I wish, pay the full amount by 31 Jan and not pay any penalty, even if my liability exceeds safe harbor. (But I think I'll keep my Uncle's $1000 in my accounts for another 2.5 months.)

I don't have wage income, otherwise I'd use a W-4 adjustment to keep me under safe harbor.

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