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Estimated tax must be paid in equal and timely payments to avoid penalty; you can't make it up by paying more in the September and/or January payments.

I shifted some assets around and they earned significantly (from a tax standpoint) more interest and dividends during the second quarter than the first. So I paid a higher estimated tax on June 15, and will make this same higher payment for the rest of the quarters remaining. Since this was not something I had planned in advance, I could not make the first-quarter payment reflect the change. I'm already paying more in estimated taxes than last year, while withholding remains the same. That should keep me safe from penalties, yes?

What if you have a sudden unexpected surge in income in the last quarter? You can't retroactively make equal payments--all you can do is pay the tax that quarter. Can you be penalized for this?

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