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Rather than rewrite the book on how to avoid the ES penalty (there are multiple ways), I'll just refer all to Pub 505.

The easiest I think would be to change withholding if you're getting a paycheck. At least my understanding is that $ withheld from the paycheck are better than an estimated payment for avoiding penalties.

I *think* that if all $ paid to the IRS comes from paycheck withholding, and you're within $1000 of your actual taxes there won't be penalties.
(But I have not looked at the pubs in a while. I'd listen to the more expert people on here like Phil if they say I'm full of crap.)
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