If you're making estimated tax payments, pay close attention to the due dates. You could be penalized by the IRS if you miss a deadline. Getty Images By Rocky Mengle, Tax Editor April 9, 2019 Our tax system operates on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, which means the IRS wants its cut of your income when you earn it. For employees, the government gets paid through tax withholding each time you get a paycheck. Retirees can have taxes withheld from Social Security payments and retirement plan distributions, too. However, if you're self-employed or don't have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income (such as interest, dividends or capital gains), it's up to you to periodically pay the IRS by making estimated tax payments.For the 2019 tax year, you can pay all your estimated tax by April 15, 2019, or in four equal amounts by the dates shown in the table below. Due Dates for 2019 Estimated Tax Payments Payment When Income Earned in 2019 Due Date 1st PaymentJanuary 1 to March 31April 15, 2019 2nd PaymentApril 1 to May 31June 17, 2019 3rd PaymentJune 1 to August 31September 16, 2019 4th PaymentSeptember 1 to December 31January 15, 2020 You don't have to make the payment due January 15, 2020, if you file your 2019 tax return by January 31, 2020, and pay the entire balance due with your return. No Income Until April or Later? You don't have to make estimated tax payments until you have income on which you will owe tax. So, for example, if you don't have any taxable income until April 2019, you won't have to make an estimated tax payment until June 17, 2019. At that point, you can either pay your entire estimated tax by June 17, or you can pay it in three installments by June 17, September 16 and January 15. Advertisement Farmers and Fishermen If at least two-thirds of your gross income is from farming or fishing, you can make just one estimated tax payment for the 2019 tax year by January 15, 2020. If you file your 2019 tax return by March 2, 2020, and pay all the tax you owe at that time, you don't need to make any estimated tax payments. SEE ALSO: 20 Most-Overlooked Tax Breaks and Deductions How to Pay Use Form 1040-ES to calculate and pay your estimated taxes. There are a number of ways to pay estimated taxes, including by check, cash, credit card and debit card. There are many online payment options, too, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). The various payment methods are described in the instructions for Form 1040-ES. Penalties Whether you make estimated tax payments or rely on withholding, you could be hit with a penalty if you don't pay enough tax throughout the year. The penalty doesn't apply if you owe less than $1,000 in tax. You can also avoid the penalty if your 2019 withholding or estimated tax payments equal at least 90% of your 2019 tax liability, or 100% of the tax shown on your 2018 return (110% if your 2018 adjusted gross income was more than $150,000). Don't Forget About Your State Finally, unless you live in a state with no income tax, you probably owe estimated tax payments to your state, too. Due dates for state payments may or may not coincide with the federal dates, so be sure to check with the appropriate tax agency in your state. SEE ALSO: Tax Deductions: Can You Tell If These Are Legit?