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When to Pay Your Business's Estimated Taxes

You need to pay your business's estimated taxes on specific dates every year. If your business is anything but a corporation, the estimated tax due dates are April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15. Corporate estimated taxes are due on the fifteenth day of the 4th, 6th, 9th, and 12th month after the end of the company’s fiscal year.

Keep in mind that these are due dates, not postmark dates, so plan to send tax payments several days in advance.

The rules for paying estimated taxes are different for the different forms of business. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation shareholders: If you expect to owe taxes of $1,000 or more when you file your income tax return, you probably need to make estimated payments to the federal government. Use Form 1040-ES — Estimated Tax for Individuals — to determine how much to pay and when to submit your payment.

  • Corporations: If you expect to owe taxes of $500 or more when you file your tax return, you probably need to make estimated payments to the federal government. Use Form 1120-W — Estimated Tax for Corporations — to determine how much to pay.

Of course, the day of reckoning for most small businesses (if they aren't corporations) comes each year on the same day as it does for individual taxpayers: April 15. (Corporations have a slightly different arrangement; corporate federal tax returns are due on the fifteenth day of the third month after the close of the company’s fiscal year, or March 15 for a fiscal year that ends on December 31.) On this day, you submit your tax return for the preceding calendar year and write out one more check to pay the IRS for tax shortfalls that your estimated payments didn't cover.

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