Five Things to Know about Estimated Taxes and Tax Withholding

You know the ideal situation we shoot for when preparing taxes is actually NOT to get a big refund…because that only means you gave the U.S. Government an interest-free loan! No, what we want, besides lowering our tax liability as much as possible, is to NOT have any surprises on what we may end up owing. We want our tax payments as we make them throughout the year to be as close to our ultimate liability as possible. Here are some tips from the IRS on how to handle withholding and estimated taxes to just this end. Please feel free to contact me directly should you have further questions!

From the IRS:

With 10 million taxpayers a year facing estimated tax penalties, the IRS offers some simple tips to help prevent a surprise at tax time.

People pay taxes on income through withholding on their paycheck or through estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who pay enough tax throughout the year can avoid a large tax bill and penalties when they file their return.

Taxpayers should make estimated tax payments if:

  • The tax withheld from their income does not cover their tax for the year.
  • They have income without withholdings. Some examples are interest, dividends, alimony, self-employment income, capital gains, prizes or awards.

Here are five actions taxpayers can take to avoid a large bill and estimated tax penalties when they file their return. They can:

  • Use Form 1040-ES. Individuals, sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders can use  this form to figure estimated tax. This form helps someone calculate their expected income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. They can then figure their estimated tax payments.
  • Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This tool helps users figure how much money their employer should withhold from their pay so they don’t have too much or too little tax withheld. The results from the calculator can also help them fill out their Form W-4. Taxpayers whose income isn’t paid evenly throughout the year, can check Publication 505 instead of the calculator.
  • Have more tax withheld. Taxpayers with a regular paycheck can have more tax withheld from it. To do this, they must fill out a new Form W-4and give it to their employer. This is a good option for taxpayers who participate in a sharing economy activity as a side job or part-time business.
  • Use estimated payments to pay other taxes. Self-employed individuals can make estimated tax payments to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare.
  • Use Form W-4P. Generally, pension and annuity plans withhold tax from retirees’ payments. Recipients of these payments can adjust their withholding using Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

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