Regardless of the type of freelance work you do, you are required to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Why? Because your employer is not removing those taxes automatically from each payment. Rather it is your sole responsibility to calculate your quarterly tax amount and make timely payments. But understanding how much and when often bring about stress and tend to steal time away from your work. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the appropriate method for calculating your quarterly taxes, the terminology involved with that process, and ultimately how to submit those quarterly tax payments once they’ve been properly calculated.
Most importantly, let’s determine if you do indeed have to pay quarterly taxes. According to the IRS, all income earned through a taxpayer’s business, as an independent contractor or from informal side jobs is self-employment income, which is fully taxable and must be reported on Form 1040. However, you don’t have to pay estimated tax for the current year if you meet all three of the following conditions:
This should clear up any misconceptions – any money earned through freelancing or side gigs you must pay taxes on unless you meet all three conditions as described. But more likely than not, you are in the vast majority of freelancers and must pay taxes. And the best way to lessen the burden of these taxes is to pay quarterly taxes.
Before diving into the details of calculating those quarterly tax payments, let’s review the common IRS terms that you will need to know in order to successfully make the calculation. First and foremost, your adjusted gross income or taxable income is the amount of money you earned freelancing minus any deductions, such as medical expenses, unreimbursed business expenses, etc. Secondly, there are five filing statuses that are necessary to understand before calculating your quarterly taxes. Those five filing statuses include single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widower with dependent child(s). Here’s a quick breakdown of those filing statuses in more detail:
With the varying filing statuses clarified, it is rather important to reiterate that you only pay taxes on your business earnings minus your business expenses, which results in what is referred to as your business profit. Therefore, it is critical that you are also keeping track of all your business expenses (AND CO can help with that!). These business expenses include everything that the IRS defines as an ordinary expense and a necessary expense. Here’s a deeper look into each expense:
Beyond that of ordinary and necessary expenses, the IRS also considers cost of goods sold, use of home, use of car, subcontractor pay, retirement savings, rent, and insurance as tax deductible. Keep in mind that the ordinary and necessary rule applies to these expenses as well. But most importantly you’re incurring these expenses anyway – best to make sure you are writing them off and keeping your money! Make sure it all factors into your tax calculations!
As mentioned above, the easiest and best way to lessen your tax burden as a freelancer is to file your quarterly taxes. And naturally, you want to make sure you are saving as much money as deemed lawfully appropriate. In order to begin calculating your quarterly taxes, you must start by estimating your adjusted gross income and deductions for the year. Refer to the definitions above if you are uncertain about what qualifies as your adjusted gross income or as tax deductible. Then identify your tax filing status according to the filing statuses mentioned earlier. Pick the filing status that results in the least amount of money owed. After having determined your filing status as well as your adjusted gross income and your deductions, you are officially ready to do some tax calculations! Head on over to AND CO’s quarterly tax calculator and type in all your information. Within a few clicks, you’ll have your quarterly taxes calculated!
Now with your quarterly tax calculated and in hand, you are ready to start circling those calendar dates for when you should deliver payment to the IRS. Check out the graph below for this year’s quarterly tax payment deadlines:
|Payment Period||Due Date|
|Fourth Quarter 2016||October 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016||January 20, 2017|
|First Quarter 2017||January 1, 2017 - March 31, 2017||April 20, 2017|
|Second Quarter 2017||April 1, 2017 - June 31, 2017||July 20, 2017|
|Third Quarter 2017||July 1, 2017 - September 30, 2017||October 20, 2017|
|Fourth Quarter 2017||October 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017||January 22, 2018|
With the actual dates of the quarterly taxes determined, let’s quickly review the steps to take in order to deliver payment. Simply visit the IRS Payments Gateway to pay your quarterly taxes online (AND CO can also remind you!)! Alternately, you may do one of the following:
As a best practice, make certain that your quarterly taxes are calculated accurately and match the payments you made in the year prior. And here are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding quarterly taxes:
Overall, it is in your best interest to pay quarterly taxes by the dates listed. And by doing so, you’ll save yourself money, time, and aggravation. To calculate you quarterly taxes click here or set aside 25 to 30 percent of every paycheck in a business savings account to make sure you ready to deliver the full amount of tax calculated for your quarterly taxes. While tax calculating may not be a blast, the thoughtful preparation, careful record keeping of expenses, and keen awareness about the consequences will surely eliminate the stressors on your business and allow you to pave a path to freelancing success!