A Quick Guide To Paying Estimated Tax in California

Self-employed individuals in California are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments. This article will cover everything you need to know about California’s estimated tax payments, including minimum taxable income, due dates, and applicable penalties for failing to meet your tax liability.

Let’s get to it!

What is California’s Estimated Tax Payment?

Estimated tax is the amount of tax you expect to owe for the tax year. In California, if you are self-employed, you will have to file and submit your own estimated payments for the year. 

This estimated tax is then usually paid on a quarterly basis. It consists of the current year’s tax minus the credits that you plan to take as well as the tax that you expect to have withheld. 

Who pays estimated taxes?

Mainly people in self-employment in California are required to pay estimated taxes. If you are a small business owner, independent contractor, or freelancer, then you will likely have to file your quarterly estimated tax returns. These are essentially people who do not have their taxes withheld by employers.

How to pay California’s estimated tax payments

California allows taxpayers to pay estimated taxes in four installments. The first thing you need to do is calculate the total tax due for the current year. The payable tax amount is either 90% of the expected current year’s tax or 100% of the prior year’s tax – whichever value is smaller.

Once you know how much tax is due, you must pay in quarterly installments as follows:

1st installment – 30% of the total (Due April 15)

2nd installment – 40% of the total (Due June 15)

3rd installment – none (Due September 15)

4th installment – 30% of the total (Due January 15 the following year)

The amount of tax due in the third installment is zero, which gives you a chance to get current on your tax payments if you are not already.

Remember, if you just set up a new business and haven’t generated any revenue yet, you don’t have to pay any estimated tax until your business starts earning.  

Payment methods 

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) allows four different ways of making electronic tax payments:

In case you don’t meet the FTB’s e-pay threshold, you may submit your state tax by mail to the Franchise Tax Board.

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What is the underpayment penalty in California? 

A 3% underpayment penalty will be imposed if you do not pay at least 100% of the preceding year’s tax or 90% of the current year’s estimate (110% if you are a high-income taxpayer). Additionally, of course, you still have to pay the full amount of taxes due (unpaid tax).

Shoeboxed can make your tax time easier 

Keeping receipts organized and safe is vital during the tax season as they are your concrete evidence for any tax deductions you claim. 

If you’re tired of spending hours and hours collecting and categorizing receipts by yourself, we’re here to tell you there’s a super easy alternative. It’s Shoeboxed. 


About Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a receipt management application that turns your receipts and business documents into a digital format in just one click by taking a picture straight from your smartphone or scanning a pdf. It automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. Shoeboxed ensures you will always have your receipts securely stored and ready for tax purposes.Access your Shoeboxed account from your web browser or smartphone app. Stay audit-ready with Shoeboxed for FREE now!

Most Famous Tax Court Cases In IRS History That You Might Want to Know

Everyone wants to save money, especially when it comes to taxes. It is not illegal to reduce or minimize business or personal income taxes by legitimate accounting methods. There are, in fact, many exemptions and deductions available under state and federal tax codes to help you minimize your taxes. 

However, when you use deceptive or dishonest methods to save money on taxes, you risk facing significant penalties and perhaps jail time. Even if only a tiny fraction of returns are audited each year, the fines are not worth the risk. 

This article will introduce you to the most famous tax court cases to show how high a price you can pay for this crime.

The differences between avoiding taxes and evading taxes

There is always a clear line between the creativity in minimizing your taxes and breaking the law. Avoiding taxes is legal and understandable, but evading taxes comes with tough consequences. 

Tax avoidance means using legal accounting methods to lower the amount of taxes owed. For example, you can deposit your money into an Individual Savings Account (ISA) to avoid paying income tax on the interest you earn on your cash savings. You can also invest money into a pension scheme or claim capital allowances on things used for business purposes.

On the other hand, tax evasion occurs when a person or business uses illegal means to escape paying taxes. Some common examples of tax evasion include withholding from the IRS the tax you owe, keeping your business off the books by doing transactions in cash with no receipts, or using an offshore bank account to hide money, stocks, or other assets. 

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Most famous tax court cases in IRS history

Al Capone

Al Capone’s case is possibly the most famous one in IRS history. Though this notorious gangster had committed various illegal acts, including bootlegging, prostitution, and murder, only one landed him in prison––income tax evasion.

Under Capone’s leadership at the Chicago Outfit, the organization generated an estimated $100 million annual income. He was convicted on five counts of tax evasion from 1925 to 1927 and willful failure to file for 1928-1929. He was sentenced to 11 years in Federal Prison (including the notorious Alcatraz) and paid $80,000 in fines and outstanding tax bills.

Joe Francis

Joe Francis is a talented American entrepreneur, film producer, founder, and creator of Girls Gone Wild’s entertainment brand. He was accused of criminal tax evasion in 2007 for allegedly filing fake business tax returns. Francis is accused of submitting fake company expenses totaling more than $20 million to avoid paying taxes. He was able to avoid the felony accusation by accepting a guilty plea.

However, he didn’t seem to have completely avoided his tax problems. The IRS issued Francis a $33.8 million tax lien in November 2009.

Walter Anderson

Anderson’s case was probably one of the most famous tax court cases in IRS history. Walter Anderson, a former telecommunications executive, was accused of using aliases, offshore bank accounts, and shell businesses to conceal his earnings. Anderson pleaded a guilty plea in 2006, admitting to concealing nearly $365 million in earnings. He was condemned to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $200 million in compensation.

Anderson avoided the majority of the taxes owed due to a typo mistake in the amount of the federal government’s judgment. In this case, the IRS agreed to pay taxes and penalties for three years. Anderson is, however, still liable for $23 million owing to the District of Columbia government. 

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes, the famous American actor, film producer, and martial artist, has been charged with numerous offenses by federal prosecutors. 

The “Blade” star is accused of hiding money in overseas accounts and failing to file federal tax returns for years. Snipes’ federal tax debt is reported to be approximately $12 million.

He was only convicted of misdemeanor charges in 2008 after being acquitted on felony tax fraud and conspiracy charges. 

Douglas P. Rosile, his accountant, and tax protester Eddie Ray Kahn were also accused as co-defendants. Rosile received a four-and-a-half-year sentence, and Kahn was given a ten-year sentence. 

Leona Roberts Helmsley

Leona Roberts Helmsley, an American businesswoman has accumulated a multi-billion dollar real estate portfolio. The “Queen of Mean” and her husband, Harry, were charged with invoicing millions of dollars in personal expenses as their business in order to evade taxes. Helmsley was convicted of three counts of tax evasion in 1989. She was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. A fun fact was that she was sentenced to prison on the income tax deadline day for that year, April 15, 1992.

The bottom line

Evading taxes can lead to serious consequences. As you can see from the US’ top tax court cases listed above, it’s critical to understand what happens if you cross the line between legal tax avoidance techniques and unlawful tax evasion. If you have tax questions or have received a notice from the IRS, it’s a good idea to consult with a tax professional to discuss your situation and your choices moving forward.

About Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a receipt management application that turns your receipts and business documents into a digital format in just one click by taking a picture straight from your smartphone or scanning a pdf. It automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. Shoeboxed ensures you will always have your receipts securely stored and ready for tax purposes.

Access your Shoeboxed account from your web browser or smartphone app. Stay audit-ready with Shoeboxed for FREE now!

What Is the Property Tax Deduction and How do I Claim It?

When you own property, such as a car, a house, or land, you have to pay annual property taxes to your state or local government, depending on the value of your property. However, you may be able to claim a property tax deduction from your federal income tax bill. 

This article will bring you an overview of the property tax deduction and how to claim it. 

What is the property tax deduction?

Property taxes are paid on property owned by an individual or other legal entity (such as an LLC or a corporation) to the state and local tax authority of the property’s jurisdiction. These taxes are generally used to fund public services such as schools, roadways, libraries, and first responders.

Property taxes are virtually always levied on several types of property, and each state, county, and municipality sets the taxable value for each item.

Common examples of property taxes are mortgage interest, state and municipal taxes on property investments such as homes, land, or apartments, and taxes collected on personal property such as boats or vehicles.

What is deductible

The IRS accepts the following items as property tax deductions: 

  • Your primary house
  • Houses for vacationing
  • Apartment in a cooperative (see IRS Publication 530 for special rules)
  • Land
  • Cars, boats, RVs, and other types of vehicles

What is non-deductible

Certain items on your real estate property tax bill may look like taxes but are actually miscellaneous charges and are not deductible. These are the following: 

  • Taxes on properties you don’t own
  • Property taxes you haven’t paid yet
  • Transfer taxes when you sell your properties
  • Expenses for public services, such as water or garbage collection.
  • Renovation expenses to your home (even if they add value to your property)
  • Payments on loans for energy-efficient house upgrades. (However, you may be able to deduct the interest component of your payment as home mortgage interest.)
  • Property taxes plus government and county tax payments or state taxes totaling over $10,000 ($5,000 for married filing status).
  • Local benefit taxes for constructing streets, walkways, or sanitary sewer infrastructure in your neighborhood. (However, taxes on the maintenance or repair of these items are deductible)

FYI: You can deduct your maintenance and repair expenses; however, only if the tax authority itemizes these amounts in your bill.

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How to claim your property tax deduction

Store your tax documents properly 

If you pay taxes on your properties, you may be able to deduct this sum from your income tax. However, you need to be extra accurate when estimating your property taxes for the year. A simple practice to achieve your goal of claiming a property tax deduction is to keep a copy of your property documentation. 

For example, though your local taxing authority can give you a copy of your property taxable income, you should also keep the licensing documentation for your car, boat, or other mobile assets. If you have a home mortgage, require a 1098 Form from your mortgage company to state how much property tax you paid. And lastly, if you pay your taxes with a check, make sure you keep the bank statement showing how much you paid.

Use Schedule A to file your property taxes

Schedule A is used by the IRS to file taxes on a federal income tax filing. In this file, you should specifically categorize your deductions for property taxes. This form itself is where taxpayers keep track of their write-offs and any property taxes they want to deduct. Filers can also deduct expenses of monthly mortgage interest they paid throughout the tax year using this form.

Subtract your property taxes in the year you pay them. 

This may sound simple, but don’t let it fool you. Property taxes are normally paid in one of two ways: by writing a check once or twice a year when the bill arrives or by setting away money each month in an escrow account while paying the mortgage. Don’t rely on the second way; you should only deduct the taxes you paid during the year.

The bottom line

Calculating your property tax deduction can be challenging, especially when tax percentages differ depending on your county. But by keeping our guidelines in hand, you can easily get the most out of your qualified property tax deduction, lower your taxes, and even be able to invest your money in other areas. 

If you’d like to discover more helpful tax knowledge, don’t forget to subscribe to the Shoeboxed blog

Shoeboxed is a receipt management application that turns your receipts and business documents into a digital format in just one click by taking a picture straight from your smartphone or scanning a pdf. It automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. Shoeboxed ensures you will always have your receipts securely stored and ready for tax purposes. Access your Shoeboxed account from your web browser or smartphone app. Stay audit-ready with Shoeboxed for FREE now!