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<< ~~Right. You would make minimal ES payments in the years that you are taking profits and pay the full balance with your return
(as long as it's under $1,000) in the years you don't.~~

I assume you mean here that the low year tax liability and, hence, the ES payment is under $1,000 and not the full balence. From my first example, the total tax in the profit-taking year is at least a few thousand dollars. >>

Not quite. I'll clarify. In the years you're not taking profit, you'll pay no estimated tax. This assumes that in those years you'll owe no more than $1,000. You'll just pay your liability with the return.

In the profit-taking years you'd make ES payments based on the prior year's tax.

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