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Estimated Taxes: How to Remit and Due Dates

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Figuring out how much estimated tax to pay is the hard part. Once you have your payment amount, you can send in estimated payments by check, pay by credit card, or use the Treasury Department's online bill payment system.

Paying Estimated Taxes by Check

Paying estimated taxes by check is pretty easy. Just make sure to use the 1040-ES payment vouchers (pdf). Make the check payable to the "United States Treasury." In the memo field of the check, be sure to write your Social Security Number and indicate the year for which you are paying, for example "2013 Form 1040-ES."

Avoid making the check payable to the "IRS" or "I.R.S." as some thieves have confiscated these checks and altered the name to "J.R.Smith" or "MRS Smith" or some other permutation. You can prevent this sort of theft by always writing out "United States Treasury," as that cannot be easily altered.

Paying Estimated Taxes by Credit Card

To pay by credit card, you'll need to use an authorized third-party payment service. These payment services process tax payments by credit card or debit card and forward the funds to the Internal Revenue Service. The payment processing services charge convenience fees.

Paying by credit card is very convenient, but I usually don't recommend it because there's a convenience fee involved, and you'll have to pay any finance charges on top of that. Still, paying by credit card can help avoid any late payment penalties charged by the IRS.

Paying Estimated Taxes by Online Bill Pay

The Treasury Department operates an online bill payment system for taxes. It's called the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS for short. I use EFTPS personally, and the service works very smoothly. It can take a few weeks to get fully registered with the service, but once you are set up, you will be able to schedule estimated payments from your checking account very quickly. EFTPS users can print out a report showing all their estimated payments for the year, which is a handy report to have at tax time.

To pay your estimated taxes, simply login to EFTPS and schedule an estimated payment. You can indicate the dollar amount and the date you want the payment withdrawn from your bank account.

Estimated Tax Deadlines

Estimated tax payments are due quarterly on the following days:
  • April 15th,
  • June 15th,
  • September 15th, and
  • January 15th.
Some taxpayers pay more frequently than this. Some people have set up the monthly payments by EFTPS so that a fixed amount of tax is paid as part of their monthly budget. And if you skip a payment, you may want to adjust your subsequent estimated payment to cover the shortfall.

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