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Paying quarterly estimated taxes (QET) as an independent contractor
Paying quarterly estimated taxes (QET) as an independent contractor
Updated over a week ago


Many individuals embarking on independent contracting often inquire about the tax obligations inherent to such endeavors. To simplify, as an independent contractor, you are responsible for remitting taxes, as they are not withheld by an employer.


A fundamental guideline dictates that if your tax liability from contracting exceeds $1000 annually, you are obligated to submit quarterly estimated tax payments.

Consequently, in addition to filing a tax return in April, you must also fulfill your estimated tax obligations for each of the four tax quarters of the year. Failure to comply with these estimated tax payments may result in penalties and interest charges, which will accrue and become due in April.


Quarterly tax due dates

So, if you need to pay estimated taxes, what are the 4 quarters in the year and the due dates for each estimated tax payment?

Quarter 1 - due April 15

  • 1099 income from January 1 to March 31

Quarter 2 - due June 15

  • 1099 income from April 1 to May 31

Quarter 3 - due September 15

  • 1099 income from June 1 to August 31

Quarter 4 - due January 15 the following year

  • 1099 income from September 1 to December 31


Note: If the due date for making an estimated tax payment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment will be on time if you make it on the next day that's not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Bonsai Tax add-on for independent contractors

It is a bit difficult to manage, which is why some freelancer opt to simply pay all their taxes on April 15 with their tax return along with any penalties they've incurred.  We definitely don't recommend this, as it means you're paying extra, unnecessary fines and you have to set aside a much larger sum for tax day.

Because it can be difficult to stay on top of quarterly estimated tax payments, we created the Bonsai Tax add-on that automates much of the process for freelancers.

While you will still need to make the set aside enough for tax payments, Bonsai sends reminders for any upcoming tax payments and shows how much you should have saved on an ongoing basis.


Bonsai Tax add-on is tailored for independent contractors and is presently accessible to users within the United States.

IRS website

To learn more about Estimated Taxes, who they apply to and when they are due, you can always refer to the IRS website.  There are helpful guides and forms that should be referenced by contractors to ensure compliance.

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