skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index
ABCDEFGHI
JKLMNOPQR
STUVWXYZ#

FAQs
Forms
Publications
Tax Topics

Comments
About Tax Map

IRS.gov Website
Publication 505
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007327

Who Must Pay
Estimated Tax(p26)

rule
If you owed additional tax for 2011, you may have to pay estimated tax for 2012.
You can use the following general rule as a guide during the year to see if you will have enough withholding, or should increase your withholding or make estimated tax payments.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007328

General Rule(p26)

rule
In most cases, you must pay estimated tax for 2012 if both of the following apply.
  1. You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for 2012, after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits.
  2. You expect your withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of:
    1. 90% of the tax to be shown on your 2012 tax return, or
    2. 100% of the tax shown on your 2011 tax return. Your 2011 tax return must cover all 12 months.
Note. The percentages in (2a) or (2b) above may be different if you are a farmer, fisherman, or higher income taxpayer. See Special Rules, later.
EIC
If the result from using the general rule above suggests that you will not have enough withholding, complete the 2012 Estimated Tax Worksheet for a more accurate calculation.
Figure 2-A takes you through the general rule. You may find this helpful in determining if you must pay estimated tax.
Deposit
If all your income will be subject to income tax withholding, you probably do not need to pay estimated tax.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007330

Example 1.(p27)

To figure whether she should pay estimated tax for 2012, Jane uses Figure 2-A and the following information. She files as head of household and expects no refundable credits in 2012.
Expected adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2012$82,800
AGI for 2011$73,700
Total tax on 2011 return (Form 1040,
 line 61)
$  9,224
Total 2012 estimated tax (line 13c of the 2012 Estimated Tax Worksheet)$11,270
Tax expected to be withheld in 2012 $10,250
Jane's answer to Figure 2-A, box 1, is YES; she expects to owe at least $1,000 for 2012 after subtracting her withholding from her expected total tax ($11,270 − $10,250 = $1,020). Her answer to box 2a is YES; she expects her income tax withholding ($10,250) to be at least 90% of the tax to be shown on her 2012 return ($11,270 × 90% = $10,143). Jane does not need to pay estimated tax.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007331

Example 2.(p27)

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that Jane expects only $9,200 tax to be withheld in 2012. Because that is less than $10,250, her answer to box 2a is NO.
Jane's answer to box 2b is also NO; she does not expect her income tax withholding ($9,200) to be at least 100% of the total tax shown on her 2011 return ($9,224). Jane must increase her withholding or pay estimated tax for 2012.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007332

Example 3.(p27)

The facts are the same as in Example 2, except that the total tax shown on Jane's 2011 return was $9,000. Because she expects to have more than $9,000 withheld in 2012 ($9,200), her answer to box 2b is YES. Jane does not need to pay estimated tax for 2012.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007334

Married Taxpayers(p27)

rule
If you qualify to make joint estimated tax payments, apply the rules discussed here to your joint estimated income.
You and your spouse can qualify to make joint estimated tax payments even if you are not living together.
However, you and your spouse cannot make joint estimated tax payments if:
If you do not qualify to make joint estimated tax payments, apply these rules to your separate estimated income.
Making joint or separate estimated tax payments will not affect your choice of filing a joint tax return or separate returns for 2012.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007335

2011 separate returns and 2012 joint return.(p27)

rule
If you plan to file a joint return with your spouse for 2012, but you filed separate returns for 2011, your 2011 tax is the total of the tax shown on your separate returns. You filed a separate return if you filed as single, head of household, or married filing separately.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007336

2011 joint return and 2012 separate returns.(p27)

rule
If you plan to file a separate return for 2012, but you filed a joint return for 2011, your 2011 tax is your share of the tax on the joint return. You file a separate return if you file as single, head of household, or married filing separately.
To figure your share of the tax on a joint return, first figure the tax both you and your spouse would have paid had you filed separate returns for 2011 using the same filing status as for 2012. Then multiply the tax on the joint return by the following fraction.
 The tax you would have paid had you filed a separate return 
The total tax you and your spouse would have paid had you filed separate returns
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007337

Example.(p27)

Joe and Heather filed a joint return for 2011 showing taxable income of $48,500 and a tax of $6,429. Of the $48,500 taxable income, $40,100 was Joe's and the rest was Heather's. For 2012, they plan to file married filing separately. Joe figures his share of the tax on the 2011 joint return as follows:
Tax on $40,100 based on separate return$6,156
Tax on $8,400 based on separate return 843
Total $6,999
Joe's percentage of total ($6,156 ÷ $6,999)88%
Joe's share of tax on joint return
($6,429 × 88%)
$5,658
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007338

Special Rules(p27)

rule
There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, and certain higher income taxpayers.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007339

Farmers and Fishermen(p27)

rule
If at least two-thirds of your gross income for 2011 or 2012 is from farming or fishing, substitute 662/3% for 90% in (2a) under General Rule, earlier.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007340

Gross income.(p27)

rule
Your gross income is all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. To determine whether two-thirds of your gross income for 2011 was from farming or fishing, use as your gross income the total of the income (not loss) amounts.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007341

Joint returns.(p27)

rule
On a joint return, you must add your spouse's gross income to your gross income to determine if at least two-thirds of your total gross income is from farming or fishing.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007342

Gross income from farming.(p27)

rule
This is income from cultivating the soil or raising agricultural commodities. It includes the following amounts.
For 2011, gross income from farming is the total of the following amounts.
Wages you receive as a farm employee and wages you receive from a farm corporation are not gross income from farming.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007343

Gross income from fishing.(p27)

rule
This is income from catching, taking, harvesting, cultivating, or farming any kind of fish, shellfish (for example, clams and mussels), crustaceans (for example, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp), sponges, seaweeds, or other aquatic forms of animal and vegetable life.
Gross income from fishing includes the following amounts. Services normally performed in connection with fishing include:
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007344

Higher Income Taxpayers(p28)

rule
If your AGI for 2011 was more than $150,000 ($75,000 if your filing status for 2012 is married filing a separate return), substitute 110% for 100% in (2b) under General Rule, earlier.
For 2011, AGI is the amount shown on Form 1040, line 37; Form 1040A, line 21; and Form 1040EZ, line 4.
Note. This rule does not apply to farmers and fishermen.
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007346

Aliens(p28)

rule
Resident and nonresident aliens also may have to pay estimated tax. Resident aliens should follow the rules in this publication, unless noted otherwise. Nonresident aliens should get Form 1040-ES (NR), U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals.
You are an alien if you are not a citizen or national of the United States. You are a resident alien if you either have a green card or meet the substantial presence test.
See Publication 519 for more information about Form 1040-ES (NR) and withholding (chapter 8) and the substantial presence test (chapter 1).
taxmap/pubs/p505-011.htm#en_us_publink10007347

Estates and Trusts(p28)

rule
Estates and trusts also must pay estimated tax. However, estates (and certain grantor trusts that receive the residue of the decedent's estate under the decedent's will) are exempt from paying estimated tax for the first 2 years after the decedent's death.
Estates and trusts must use Form 1041-ES, Estimated Income Tax for Estates and Trusts, to figure and pay estimated tax.