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When Are 2020 Estimated Tax Payments Due?

If you're self-employed or don't have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income, it's up to you to periodically pay the IRS by making estimated tax payments.

What a strange and difficult year it's been! Our routines have been wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the regular process of making estimated tax payments for people who are self-employed or don't have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income (such as interest, dividends, capital gains, etc.).

Estimated taxes are typically paid in four equal installments—one installment for each quarter of the year. The first quarter estimated tax payment for 2020 was originally due April 15, 2020, and the second quarter payment was originally due June 15, 2020. However, for this year, payments for the first and second quarter weren't due until July 15, 2020. As a result, the 2020 estimated tax payment schedule is adjusted as shown in the table below.

Due Dates for 2020 Estimated Tax Payments

PaymentWhen Income Earned in 2020Due Date
1st PaymentJanuary 1 to March 31July 15, 2020
2nd PaymentApril 1 to May 31July 15, 2020
3rd PaymentJune 1 to August 31September 15, 2020
4th PaymentSeptember 1 to December 31January 15, 2021

You don't have to make the payment due January 15, 2021, if you file your 2020 tax return by February 1, 2021, and pay the entire balance due with your return.

No Income Until Later in the Year?

You don't have to make estimated tax payments until you have income on which you will owe tax. So, for example, if you didn't have any taxable income until July 2020, you don't have to make an estimated tax payment until September 15, 2020. At that point, you can either pay your entire estimated tax by September 15, or you can pay it in two installments by September 15 and January 15.

Farmers and Fishermen

If at least two-thirds of your gross income is from farming or fishing, you can make just one estimated tax payment for the 2020 tax year by January 15, 2021. If you file your 2020 tax return by March 1, 2021, and pay all the tax you owe at that time, you don't need to make any estimated tax payments.

How to Pay

Use Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay your estimated taxes. There are a number of ways to pay estimated taxes, including by check, cash, money order, credit card and debit card. There are many online payment options, too, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). The various payment methods are described in the instructions for Form 1040-ES.

Penalties

Whether you make estimated tax payments or rely on withholding, you could be hit with a penalty if you don't pay enough tax throughout the year. The penalty doesn't apply if you owe less than $1,000 in tax. You can also avoid the penalty if your 2020 withholding or estimated tax payments equal at least 90% of your 2020 tax liability, or 100% of the tax shown on your 2019 return (110% if your 2019 adjusted gross income was more than $150,000).

Don't Forget About Your State

Finally, unless you live in a state with no income tax, you probably owe estimated tax payments to your state, too. Due dates for state payments may or may not coincide with the federal dates, so be sure to check with the appropriate tax agency in your state.

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