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You may subtract from [2011 total tax] any 2012 withholding in determining your 2012 ES requirements. Unless you elect otherwise, withholding is credited equally across the four ES payment periods in determining whether you met the safe harbor.

But how do you know the exact amount of 2012 withholding when you estimate your 2012 estimated payments in April 2012?

You don't.

Can you use the amount of 2011 withholdings, then would you be in a safe harbor so to speak?

The answer remains no.

Obviously, I'm more concerned about 2013, since 2012 is almost over. For 2013, if I take the tax paid in 2012, then subtract the amount of that tax that was paid by withholdings (as opposed to estimated taxes), then divide by 4, would I be safe in 2013 if I paid estimated taxes in that amount?

Still no. It'll still be no the next time you ask.

I hope I'm being clear enough, but since I know just enough to get in trouble, I'm frequently unable to articulate my exact question properly.

You're being perfectly clear, and I'm not saying that what you suggest wouldn't make sense. It's just that it's contrary to the law.

I don't recall whether either you or your spouse is still working. If so you should have a decent estimate of 2013 anticipated wage withholding by April 1. Likewise if you're having tax withheld from pension or SS payments. Make a conservative estimate of total withholding for the year, subtract that from 2012 total tax, and pay 1/4 of that by April 15. Remember that you can lower later ES payments; you just can't retroactively increase earlier ones. Except....

If you'll be taking an IRA or 401(k) distribution and can defer that until December you can manipulate the withholding from the IRA (and the 401(k) except that a minimum of 20% is required) to get you where you need to be for the year.

Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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