What is IRS Form 1040-ES?

IRS Form 1040-ES is used to calculate estimated tax payments. It helps determine your estimated tax liability and report your expenses for the current year. This form is essential for self-employed individuals and those with taxable income not subject to withholding, ensuring accurate reporting throughout the year.

Who pays the estimated tax?

Self-employed individuals and those with income from dividends, interest, capital gains, and other taxable sources may need to pay estimated tax. 

Suppose your tax withholding doesn't cover your liability. In that case, you may need to make estimated tax payments, including on other taxable income: unemployment compensation along with the taxable part of your social security benefits. 

This applies to individuals without tax withholding from their income or small business owners with various income types.

Paying estimated taxes

To pay estimated taxes, you have various options available. You can make your tax payments online, by mail, or through quarterly tax payments. Many tax software and online payment platforms allow you to make estimated tax payments conveniently. 

Additionally, the IRS provides online account options for submitting your estimated tax payments. You can even use credit card payments to make your estimated tax payments and ensure a timely amount of the total tax due. These flexible payment options allow you to fulfill your tax obligations without hassle. 

Calculating estimated taxes

To calculate estimated taxes:

  1. Use either the IRS Form 1040-ES worksheet or tax software.
  2. Consider your prior year's tax return and current year's income to estimate your tax liability accurately.
  3. Consider your taxable income, deductions, credits, and tax withholding to calculate your estimated tax payment.

Knowing special rules, such as the estimated tax payment due date and potential underpayment penalties. By utilising these tools and following the guidelines set by the IRS, you can efficiently calculate your estimated tax payments and ensure compliance with the tax laws.


Who should file 1040-ES

  • Form 1040-ES for Estimated Taxes: Self-employed individuals, freelancers, and gig workers must use Form 1040-ES to pay estimated taxes on their side gig income.
  • Income Without Tax Withholding: Individuals with income not subject to tax withholding (e.g., investment, rental, or business income) may also need to file Form 1040-ES to report their gross income accurately.
  • Owing $1,000 or More in Taxes: Another factor determining the need to file this form is if you owe $1,000 or more in taxes after considering tax withholding.

An exception to the filing requirement

Some individuals may be exempt from filing IRS Form 1040-ES. If your prior tax year liability was zero, you might not need to file Form 1040-ES. Individuals with no tax liability in the previous tax year may also be exempt because they were resident aliens for part of the year. 

Additionally, if your income primarily comes from retirement benefits, social security, unemployment compensation, alimony, or dividends, you may not need to file Form 1040-ES. 

Considering these exceptions, including the prior tax year requirement, is essential when determining your filing requirements.

When to file 1040-ES

To ensure timely payment of your estimated taxes and avoid underpayment penalties, knowing when to file Form 1040-ES is essential. The is usually quarterly, with specific dates in April, June, September, and January of the following year. 

The due date for your estimated tax payments depends on your income tax year. To stay compliant with tax laws:

  1. File your Form 1040-ES according to the schedule provided by the IRS.
  2. Submit your estimated tax payments before the April due date to ensure they are processed on time.
  3. Don't delay - stay on top of your tax obligations.

What if I Don't Pay My Estimated Taxes on Time?

Late payment may lead to underpayment penalties, negatively impacting your tax situation. Nonpayment of estimated taxes on time could result in additional tax liability.

Form 1040 vs Form 1040-ES

IRS Form 1040 is the tax form used for filing your annual tax return, while Form 1040-ES is designed explicitly for reporting estimated tax payments throughout the year. While Form 1040 provides a comprehensive overview of your income, deductions, credits, and tax liability for the entire year, Form 1040-ES focuses solely on estimated tax payments and refundable credits. 

It's important to note that Form 1040 is due by the tax return deadline, typically April 15th, while estimated tax payments using Form 1040-ES are due quarterly. 

Additionally, filing Form 1040 is mandatory for all taxpayers, whereas filing Form 1040-ES, also known as Schedule C, is required for those who need to make estimated tax payments.

How to File IRS Form 1040-ES online?

You can file your IRS Form 1040-ES online using the IRS website or tax software. Submit your estimated tax payments electronically through online tax payment platforms. 

When filing online, prepare your tax records and income information to ensure you get all potential tax deductions, including business expenses.



Paying estimated taxes is essential to fulfilling your tax obligations as a self-employed individual or business owner. By making timely and accurate payments, you avoid penalties and interest charges from the IRS. 

Understanding the requirements and calculations involved in paying estimated taxes is vital to ensure compliance and financial stability. 

If you need more clarification or support, consult Inkle, who can provide guidance tailored to your situation. Remember, staying on top of your estimated tax payments helps you meet your tax obligations and allows you to plan and budget effectively for your business's financial success.

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