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If you consistently owe taxes at the end of the year when filing your Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return), there are several common reasons why this might be happening. Understanding these reasons can help you take steps to better manage your tax liability. Here are some potential explanations for consistently owing taxes:

Insufficient Withholding:

One of the most common reasons for owing taxes at the end of the year is that your income sources did not withhold enough federal tax. This can happen for many reasons:
1. Improperly Filled Out W-4: Though it appears to be easy, Form W-4 (Employee's Withholding Certificate) can be complicated based on your position and potential life changes.
2. Multiple sources of income: Form W-4 allows you to identify multiple sources of income and withhold.
3. Updating Form W-4: Submitting a new Form W-4 to the source of income will update your circumstances to the payroll processor or custodian. This will update the amount withheld for each source of income.

Underestimated Estimated Tax Payments:

If you are self-employed or have income that is not subject to withholding, you may be required to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. Owing at the end of the year can occur if you underestimate your tax liability when making these payments. To avoid this, it's important to accurately estimate your tax liability and make timely estimated payments.

Changes in Income or Deductions:

Major life changes such as a change in income, marital status, or the birth of a child can impact
your tax liability. If you don't adjust your withholding or estimated payments to account for these changes, you may end up owing more when you file your return.

Tax Credits and Deductions:

Owing taxes at the end of the year can also result from not taking full advantage of available tax credits and deductions. Some taxpayers may not be aware of all the credits and deductions they are eligible for, or they may not have kept adequate records of their expenses.

Capital Gains or Investment Income:

If you have capital gains from investments or other sources of taxable income beyond your regular
salary, you may owe additional taxes. These types of income are often subject to different tax rates and may not have sufficient withholding. Since investment income may vary greatly by year, consulting with
your financial advisor or custodian is important. Ask about large transactions or large gains/losses being recognized. State and Local Taxes:

State and Local Taxes:

Remember that your federal income tax return is only part of your overall tax picture. If you live in a state or locality with income taxes, your overall tax liability may be higher, and you could owe state and local taxes in addition to federal taxes.

To avoid consistently owing taxes at the end of the year, consider the
following steps:

Taxes will be a consistent burden for the rest of your life but should not be similar to gambling. By taking a proactive approach to managing your tax liability throughout the year, you can help prevent the unpleasant surprise of owing taxes when you file your Form 1040. If you would like to schedule a consultation to better understand why you owe at the end of each year, please click the button below. We are happy to help you understand the source of your tax liabilities.

Tax season can be a daunting time for many individuals and businesses alike. Consequently, understanding the intricate details of the U.S. federal tax system is no small feat, and one aspect that often confuses taxpayers is estimated payments. In this article, we will explore the concept of estimated payments for federal tax purposes, demystify the process, and offer guidance on how to manage your tax obligations more effectively.

What Are Quarterly Payments or Estimated Payments?

Estimated payments, also known as estimated taxes, are a method used by individuals and businesses to pay their federal income tax liabilities throughout the year. The U.S. tax system operates on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, meaning taxpayers are required to make payments throughout the year rather than waiting until the end of the tax year to settle their tax bill. As a result, this approach helps the government collect revenue regularly and prevents taxpayers from facing large, unexpected tax bills.

Do I need to file estimated payments?

Estimated payments are typically required for the following groups:
1. W2 Employees: If you are an employee who typically owes at the end of the year or you have requested decreased withholding on your W4, you may be required to make payments to avoid penalty and interest.
2. Self-Employed Individuals: If you are self-employed, a freelancer, or a gig worker, you likely don't have taxes withheld from your income. In this case, you are responsible for making estimated tax payments.
3. Business Owners: Owners of certain types of businesses, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and some LLCs, are generally required to make estimated tax payments.
4. Investors and Rental Property Owners: If you receive income from investments or rental properties and do not have sufficient taxes withheld, you may need to make payments.
5. High Earners: High-income individuals who receive a substantial amount of income not subject to withholding, such as capital gains or dividends, may also need to make payments.

What Happens if I Don’t Make Estimated Payments?

Failing to make estimated tax payments when required by the IRS can result in severe penalties and interest charges. Consequently, these penalties are designed to encourage taxpayers to meet their tax obligations throughout the year rather than waiting until the end of the tax year. Here are the key penalties you may face for not making estimated payments:

Underpayment Penalty (Form 2210): This penalty is assessed when you haven't paid enough in estimated taxes by the due dates. The penalty is typically calculated on a quarterly basis. Therefore, to avoid this penalty, you must meet one of the following: a safe harbor requiring you to pay either 90% of your current year's tax liability or 100% of the previous year's tax liability (110% if your adjusted gross income exceeds $150,000 for individuals or $75,000 for married couples filing separately). Keep in mind that different rules may apply to high-income individuals along with other specialized industries.

Late Payment Penalty: If you don't make your estimated tax payments by their due dates, you may be subject to a late payment penalty. This penalty is calculated based on the amount of taxes owed and the number of days the payment is late. The IRS sets the interest rates for late payments, which can
change periodically.

Interest Charges: In addition to penalties, you may also be required to pay interest on the amount of underpaid taxes. Furthermore, the interest rate is determined by the IRS and is generally based on the federal short-term rate plus 3%. The interest rate today is significantly higher than the rates for the past decade.
Topic No. 653

Failure to File: A penalty often assessed at the same time as underpayment penalties is the Failure to File penalty. Interest is also assessed on penalties as those penalties are assessed.

Important to Note:

While the penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes is not a fixed percentage of the underpaid amount, it is still important to be aware of the factors that can affect the penalty amount, such as the amount of underpayment, the timing of the underpayments, and the applicable interest rates.

How Are Estimated Payments Calculated?

Calculating your estimated tax payments is complex, as it depends on your income, deductions, credits, and other factors. Therefore, the simplest calculation involves estimating your total tax owed for the year and then dividing it into four equal quarterly payments.

Here's a simplified formula to help you get started:

1. Estimate your adjusted gross income.
2. Calculate your anticipated deductions and credits.
3. Determine your taxable income.
4. Apply the appropriate tax rate to your taxable income.
5. Divide your estimated annual tax liability by four to get your quarterly
payment amount.

Even though your income fluctuates throughout the year, or on a year-by-year basis, you may need to adjust your estimated taxes accordingly each year. This situation is most common for businesses trying to calculate their estimated business tax payments. In this case, having consistent bookkeeping up-to-date along with a forecast is the best way to accurately calculate your tax liability at the end of the year.

When Are Estimated Payments Due?

The IRS has set specific due dates for tax payments:

1. First Quarter: April 15
2. Second Quarter: June 15
3. Third Quarter: September 15
4. Fourth Quarter: January 15 of the following year (for the previous tax

It's crucial to mark these dates on your calendar and ensure you make your payments on time. Consequently, failure to do so can result in penalties and interest.

How do I pay my estimated tax payments?

Making tax payments is relatively straightforward:

1. Pay Online: The IRS offers an online payment system that allows you
to make payments electronically. You can use the Electronic Federal
Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or pay directly on the IRS website.
2. Mail a Check: If you prefer to pay by check, you can download Form
1040-ES from the IRS website and follow the instructions to mail your
3. Use a Tax Professional: Many tax professionals and accountants can
help you calculate your estimated payments and ensure they are
submitted on time.

Therefore estimated payments for federal tax purposes are an essential aspect of the U.S. tax system. By understanding who needs to make these payments, how they are calculated, and when they are due, you can stay on top of your tax obligations and avoid potential penalties and interest charges.
Despite the challenges of estimated tax payments, they are a proactive way to manage your tax liability and ensure you meet your obligations to the IRS. Additionally, consider working with a tax professional or using tax preparation software to streamline the process and help you accurately estimate and pay your taxes throughout the year. This proactive approach can lead to smoother tax seasons and better financial planning for the future.

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