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July 6, 2024

Decoding Corporate Estimated Tax: Which Method is Best for You?

With the next quarterly estimated tax payment deadline coming up on September 16, it’s the perfect time to brush up on the rules for computing your corporate federal estimated payments. Ideally, your business can pay the minimum amount of estimated tax without triggering any penalties for underpayment. 

But how do you determine that amount? To avoid penalties, corporations must pay estimated tax installments equal to the lowest amount calculated using one of these four methods: 

Current Year Method

Pay 25% of the tax shown on the current tax year’s return (or, if no return is filed, 25% of the tax for the current year) by each of four corporate installment due dates -  generally April 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15. If a due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the payment is due the following business day.

Preceding Year Method 

Pay 25% of the tax shown on the return for the preceding tax year by each of four installment due dates. For 2022, corporations with taxable income of $1 million or more in any of the last three tax years can only use the preceding year method to determine their first required installment payment. Additionally, this method is not available to corporations whose last tax return covered less than a full year (i.e. new corporations) or corporations without a tax return from the previous year showing some tax liability.

Annualized Income Method

Under this option, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty if it pays its “annualized tax” in quarterly installments. The annualized method estimates tax based on the corporation’s taxable income for the months leading up to the installment due date. It also assumes income will stay consistent throughout the year.

Seasonal Income Method

Corporations with recurring seasonal patterns of taxable income can annualize income by assuming income earned in the current year is earned in the same pattern as in preceding years. There’s a somewhat complicated mathematical test corporations must pass to establish that they meet the threshold to qualify to use this method.

If you think your corporation might qualify, reach out to your Smolin Advisor for assistance making that determination.If you find yourself needing to adjust estimated tax payments, corporations are able to switch between the four methods during the given tax year. Let the Smolin team help you determine the best method for your corporation.

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