I'm an independent contractor and I sent in my first quarterly estimated federal tax payment for 2023, but I realized that I went way over. Is it possible to pay less in the coming three quarters (while still maintaining the same annual amount) and not be penalized?

1 Answer 1


Yes. In each quarter the penalty is based on a measurement of the taxes paid vs. the required taxes from January 1 to the end of the quarter in question.

As an extreme example, let's say your required estimated payments are $5,000 per quarter ($20,000 for the year) to satisfy the safe harbor requirements. Your required payments would be $5,000 for Q1, $10,000 through Q2, $15,000 through Q3, and $20,000 for the whole year. You can pay all $20,000 when Q1 estimated taxes are due and be done for the year.


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