What Happens When You Prepay Taxes

When you prepay taxes, you’re essentially paying more taxes than you currently owe. This can be done for various reasons, such as avoiding potential penalties or ensuring you have enough money to cover your tax liability. The extra funds you pay are held by the government until the tax due date, when they are applied to your tax bill. Prepaying taxes can help you stay on top of your financial obligations and avoid any surprises when it’s time to file your taxes.

Tax Overpayment and Refunds

When you prepay taxes, you are essentially paying more taxes than you actually owe. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • You estimated your taxes incorrectly and paid more than you needed to.
  • You had extra income that was not subject to withholding, such as from a side hustle or investment.
  • You made estimated tax payments that were higher than your actual tax liability.

When you overpay your taxes, you are entitled to a refund from the IRS. You can claim this refund by filing a tax return. The IRS will calculate your refund based on the amount of tax you overpaid, as well as any other factors that may affect your refund, such as your income and deductions.

If you are due a refund, you can choose to have the IRS deposit the money directly into your bank account or mail you a check. You can also choose to apply your refund to your next year’s taxes or use it to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond.

The following table summarizes the steps you need to take to claim a tax refund:

1File a tax return.
2Calculate your refund.
3Choose how you want to receive your refund.

Implications for Tax Brackets

When you prepay taxes, you are essentially giving the government an interest-free loan. This can have implications for your tax bracket, as your taxable income will be reduced.

  • Lower tax bracket. If you prepay enough taxes, you may move into a lower tax bracket. This can result in significant savings on your taxes.
  • Higher tax bracket. If you prepay too much taxes, you may move into a higher tax bracket. This can result in you paying more taxes than you would have if you had not prepaid.

It is important to carefully consider the implications of prepaying taxes before you decide to do so. If you are not sure how prepaying taxes will affect your tax bracket, you should consult with a tax professional.


The following table shows how prepaying taxes can affect your tax bracket.

Taxable IncomeTax BracketTaxes Owed

As you can see, prepaying $5,000 in taxes reduces your taxable income from $50,000 to $45,000. This moves you into a lower tax bracket and saves you $1,500 in taxes.

Prepaying Taxes: Implications and Benefits

Prepaying taxes involves paying your estimated tax liability before the April 15th deadline. While this practice is not mandatory, it can offer several advantages, including potential interest earnings on overpayments and avoiding penalties for underpayment. However, it’s important to understand the associated implications to make an informed decision.

Interest Earned on Overpayments

If your prepayment exceeds your actual tax liability, the excess amount is considered an overpayment. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may pay interest on overpayments if certain conditions are met:

  • The overpayment is $10 or more.
  • The overpayment is attributable to the current tax year.
  • The return is filed on time (including extensions).

The interest rate is determined by the IRS and is adjusted periodically. You can find the current interest rates on the IRS website.

Interest Rates on Tax Overpayments
PeriodInterest Rate
April 16, 2023 – June 30, 20234%
July 1, 2023 – September 30, 20235%

Interest on overpayments is compounded daily and is paid annually. You will receive a refund check or a credit on your subsequent year’s tax return for the overpayment amount plus interest.

Avoiding Penalties and Underpayments

Prepaying taxes can help you avoid penalties and underpayments. When you prepay your taxes, you are essentially paying the government in advance for the taxes you expect to owe for the year. This can help you avoid the following:

  • Late payment penalties: If you owe taxes, you have to pay them by the due date, which is usually 4/15 for state and federal income taxes. If you don’t pay your taxes on time, you will be charged a late payment penalty. The penalty is 5% of the tax owed for each month or part of a month that the tax is late, up to a maximum of 25% of the tax owed.
  • Underpayment penalties: If you don’t pay enough taxes during the year, you may be charged an underpayment penalty. The penalty is 10% of the tax that you should have paid, but didn’t. The penalty can be avoided if you meet the following two tests:
  1. The 90% test: You paid at least 90% of the tax you owe for the year.
  2. The 100% of last year’s test: You paid at least 100% of the tax you owed for the previous year (or 110% if your AGI is over $150,000).
Prepayment Options
OptionHow it works
Estimated taxesMake estimated tax payments throughout the year. Your payments will be due on 4/15, 6/15, 9/15, and 1/15 of the following year.
WithholdingAsk your employer to withhold more taxes from your paycheck.
Make additional paymentsSend the IRS additional payments directly.

Thanks everybody for joining me today! I hope this article has been helpful in shedding some light on what happens when you prepay taxes. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. And be sure to visit again later for more great content!