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My spouse and I typically file our tax return as married filing jointly due to the advantages like the child and dependent tax credit, and we plan to do so again this coming year.

This year, we have some changes to our situation:

  1. She started a part-time job that pays her as self-employment income under a 1099
  2. We got solar panels installed, and we will be paid for the electricity production by our utility company under a 1099

We also will have some investment income, which we have had before. Also, I have a full time job that withholds taxes for me and pays me as an employee under a w2.

We know we are going to need to make quarterly estimated payments on these 1099 income sources. She did some planning about setting aside part of her income and making those quarterly estimated payments, and she is set on making those payments independently. That means I would be making separate quarterly estimated payments for the solar electricity production and investment income.

Would there be any issues with making two sets of separate estimated payments? Would that require us to file separately rather than married filing jointly at the end of the year?

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    It's a bit late in the tax year to be trying to figure this out. Nevertheless, you have options other than estimated payments, including at least: (1) file a revised w4 with your employer that requests additional withholding sufficient to cover your extra income taxes; (2) not pay taxes in advance, and simply settle with the IRS when you file your tax return. The latter might or might not require you to pay a penalty, depending on how much unpaid taxes you end up owing. Aug 17, 2023 at 15:03
  • My wife started this job and we got the solar panels connected to the grid in the middle of the year (May / June, respectively).
    – Mike Eng
    Aug 25, 2023 at 19:48

2 Answers 2

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You can make separate estimated tax payments and still file a joint return. If you file a joint return, you would add the estimated tax payments each of you made. The form 1040 instructions for line 26 (estimated tax payments) says (taking 2022 as an example):

If you or your spouse paid separate estimated tax but you are now filing a joint return, add the amounts you each paid.

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You definitely do not need to file separately even though you made separate estimated tax payments.

Ideally, estimated tax payments for a married couple filing jointly would be made through the primary spouse only. But the IRS should have no trouble linking those made by the secondary spouse. (Depending on how the payment is made, you may be asked for details about your spouse at the time, though I'm not sure how this information is used.) The IRS mentions this here:

Estimated tax payments can be made by either spouse but will only show under the spouse who made the payment until a joint return is filed.

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