Taxpayers who make estimated tax payments that are ordinarily due April 15 and June 15, have until July 15, 2020 to make those payments this year, as a result of the IRS’ coronavirus relief efforts. This means that any individual or corporation that has a quarterly estimated tax payment due has until July 15 to make that payment without penalty.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses. This relief applies to federal income tax returns and tax payments (including tax on self-employment income) otherwise due April 15, 2020. This relief does not apply to state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax.
Who needs to pay quarterly?
Most often, self-employed people, including many involved in the sharing economy, need to pay quarterly installments of estimated tax. Similarly, investors, retirees and others often need to make these payments. That’s because a substantial portion of their income is not subject to withholding. Other income generally not subject to withholding includes interest, dividends, capital gains, alimony and rental income.
Special rules apply to some groups of taxpayers, such as farmers, fishermen, casualty and disaster victims, those who recently became disabled, recent retirees and those who receive income unevenly during the year.
Taxpayers can avoid an underpayment penalty by owing less than $1,000 at tax time or by paying most of their taxes during the year. Generally, for 2020 that means making payments of at least 90% of the tax expected on their 2020 return.
Taxes are pay-as-you-go
This means taxpayers need to pay most of their taxes owed during the year as income is received. There are two ways to do that:
- Withholding from pay, pension or certain government payments such as Social Security; and/or
- Making quarterly estimated tax payments during the year.
Tax Withholding Estimator
If a taxpayer receives salaries and wages, they can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking their employer to withhold more tax from their earnings. To do this, they would file a new Form W-4.
If a taxpayer receives a paycheck, the new and improved Tax Withholding Estimator can help them make sure they have the right amount of tax withheld from their pay. The tool is now more mobile friendly and replaces the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. The Tax Withholding Estimator offers workers, as well as retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers a clear, step-by-step method for effectively checking their withholding to protect against having too little tax withheld and facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year.
How to pay estimated taxes
Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, includes instructions to help taxpayers figure their estimated taxes. They can also visit IRS.gov/payments to pay electronically. IRS offers two free electronic payment options where taxpayers can schedule their estimated federal tax payments up to 30 days in advance with Direct Pay or up to 365 days in advance with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).
IRS.gov assistance 24/7
Tax help is available 24/7 on IRS.gov. The IRS website offers a variety of online tools to help taxpayers answer common tax questions. For example, taxpayers can search the Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics, Frequently Asked Questions, and Tax Trails to get answers to common questions.
More COVID-19 information
The IRS will post frequently asked questions on IRS.gov/coronavirus and will provide updates as soon as they are available.