The Facts About Getting Audited: Woman writing in notebook

What Happens When You Get Audited?

What is it about the words “tax audit” that so many people find so anxiety-provoking? The idea that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could be poring over your tax return can be downright nerve-racking, not to mention the possibility of mistakes found and penalties incurred.

But take a deep, calming breath: Over the last decade, the IRS audit rate has been declining. In 2022 (the most recent data available), the odds of an audit were 3.8 out of every 1,000 returns filed (0.38%), a slight decline from tax year 2021, when the odds of audit were 4.1 out of every 1,000 returns filed (0.41%).

But even so, you likely want to do your best to avoid going through that process. This is an informative, high-level overview of IRS audit triggers, and it should not be considered tax advice. It’s always worth consulting a tax professional for any questions or concerns because taxes are complicated and highly personal.

Read on to learn:

•   What is an audit?

•   What are reasons why someone may get audited?

•   What should you do if you get audited by the IRS?

What Is a Tax Audit?

A tax audit is a process by which the IRS reviews an individual’s or organization’s accounts as well as their financial details to make sure that the information submitted has been reported correctly and in keeping with the prevailing tax laws.

The IRS usually sends a letter when it reaches out to ask for more information, and the letter should let you know specifically what the agency is looking for.

You shouldn’t ever receive a text, email, or phone call from the IRS asking for personal or financial information. If you do, the IRS website offers several steps for checking out and reporting any suspicious contact .

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Reasons Why Someone May Get Audited by the IRS

Here’s a closer look at some of the typical IRS audit triggers. Knowing them can help you understand and possibly avoid the process as you work your way through tax season.

•   You’re a high earner. In 2022, the odds that a millionaire was audited by the IRS was 1.1 percent — higher than the average audit rate. If you are a high earner, it may be worthwhile to work with an experienced CPA to ensure you file precisely. You may also want to investigate ways to lower taxable income for high earners.

•   You claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a provision that helps lower- and moderate-income workers and their families receive a tax credit. This can reduce the taxes owed or possibly increase a refund. However, research indicates that those who claim the credit are audited at a higher rate than average, perhaps because the IRS wants to be sure the credit is being used appropriately.

•   You failed to report all your income. When you are issued a W-2 form or 1099 form showing your earnings, the IRS receives a copy too. If your return doesn’t reflect the same figures that they have when they perform a cross-check, you could wind up being audited.

•   You didn’t report all of your stock trades. When you sell stock shares, the funds you receive are taxable unless the investments happen to be a retirement account that is tax-deferred. Both you and the IRS will be sent a particular kind of 1099, a Form 1099-B, reflecting activity, and you will have to report your capital gains and losses when you do your tax return. The tax rate will depend on how long you have held the investment, but it’s important that these transactions be reported and paid up when you file your return.

•   You claim large charitable contributions. If you claim tax deductions for charitable donations of cash or items, it’s important to keep records and receipts. For a donation of cash or goods worth more than $250, the IRS requires you to get a written letter of acknowledgment from the charity by the date you file your taxes. If you’ll deduct at least $500 in donated items, you need to fill out Form 8283. For any items worth more than $5,000, you must attach an appraisal of the item to the form. Large and unsubstantiated contributions can be problematic.

Recommended: Tax-Deductible or Not? Your Guide to End-of-Year Donations

•   You claim a home office. If you are self-employed, you may deduct a percent of your rent, phone bills, and other work-related costs on Schedule C of your return. Another option is to deduct $5 per square foot of space used for business, up to $1,500. However, the IRS has over the years been successful in minimizing this home office deduction on returns, especially since the home office must be for the exclusive purpose of work; it can’t double as, say, a guest room. This means it can be an audit risk to take this on your return.

•   You claim that your car is only used for business. This is another audit red flag. If you are self-employed and depreciate a car on Form 4562 and claim that it’s used for business 100% of the time, you may well be stretching the boundaries of believability. Because it’s unusual that a vehicle wouldn’t also be used for personal transportation, you may trigger an audit with this 100% figure. It can be important that tax deductions for freelancers aren’t too large versus income.

•   You accept cash transactions. If you work in the kind of business where you often get paid in cash, especially large amounts, your return may receive extra scrutiny. The IRS requires individuals and businesses to report cash transactions over the sum of $10,000. Banks must also report potentially suspicious transactions involving cash (for instance, if someone deposits $9,500 in cash one day and $700 the next, thereby skirting the $10,000 reporting threshold).

•   Your business regularly shows losses. Of course, not all businesses are always profitable. But if you’ve started an enterprise and it keeps showing losses, year after year, it might be what triggers an IRS audit. It could look as if you have established this endeavor simply as a way to benefit from some tax deductions. The same can hold true if your business is barely break-even.

Recommended: Tax Loss Carryforward

•   You claim lots of travel and entertainment deductions. What else can trigger a tax audit? Here’s another one for self-employed workers: If you claim a lot of restaurant dinners, travel, and shows as business expenses, you may raise eyebrows at the IRS. This is especially true if the meals and hotels seem more lavish than your business might otherwise qualify for. Save all your receipts and documentation, and know that a high level of these expenses being claimed on Schedule C may get some attention and even an audit.

•   You make errors on your tax return. As you prepare for tax season, you may feel overwhelmed or be in a rush. Or perhaps you’re just not the most detail-oriented person on the planet. But if you make math mistakes on your return or, say, round up numbers to the nearest $10 or $100 because you can’t be bothered with change, heads-up: You may put yourself in line for an audit. Precision and specificity do count.

Quick Money Tip: Direct deposit is the fastest way to get an IRS tax refund. More than 9 out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days using this free service, plus you can track the payment and even split the funds into different bank accounts.

A Few Facts About Tax Audits

Here are a few points to be aware of on the topic of IRS tax audits. They may clarify some concerns that are on your mind.

A Compliance Contact Isn’t Always an Audit

A compliance check is a review done by the IRS to ensure that a taxpayer is adhering to the requirements for recordkeeping and information reporting. It does not relate directly to whether or not a person owes taxes.

There Are Different Types of Audits

Just as there are different kinds of taxes, so too are there different kinds of audits. If you are being audited by the IRS, there are a couple of ways this may happen. Mail audits are fairly common; in these, you mail in documents in response to specific inquiries. Office and field audits are more serious, and the IRS asks for proof of credits and deductions, and may look at your financial records more carefully to see if your tax return is correct. The IRS may be looking for tax evasion on these kinds of audits. The third kind of audit is what’s known as a CP2000 notice. Technically, this isn’t an audit but an underreporter inquiry, and is likely about a discrepancy between your return and the tax documents that were filed with them for the tax year in question.

Some Groups Face Higher Audit Rates than Others

While audit rates have dropped for all income levels, those with incomes below $25,000 and above $500,000 are audited at higher rates than the average.

Good Record Keeping May Offer Protection

If you are audited, it can be very helpful if your records are in good order. That way you can explain the amounts you reported and easily answer questions the IRS may have. This can serve as a good incentive for you to keep your records diligently going forward.

Ignoring the IRS Could Be Costly

What happens when you get audited can of course vary. But one possibility if you are audited is that you may be liable for back taxes not paid and penalties. These penalties typically accrue over time, so the longer you go without paying them, the higher they can be. That’s why it’s a good reason to respond promptly if you do get audited.

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What to Do if You Get Audited

What if you are one of those few people who is told that your returns are being reviewed? This is what to expect and what to do if you get audited by the IRS:

•   Typically, you will get a letter from the IRS in the mail that will identify an issue (such as your reporting less income than their records show you earned) and requesting a response.

•   It’s wise to gather your documents so you can make your case. It can be smart to send your reply as a clear, concise statement of what your documentation shows and share those records to help prove your point.

•   One important thing to do when you get audited is to reply in a timely manner and make sure your reply gets where it’s going. It can be a wise move to use additional mail services to ensure you have proof of delivery.

•   If you worked with a CPA or an enrolled agent on your return, they can likely advise you. If you used tax-return software, they may also offer help.

•   Your response to the mail inquiry may be enough to resolve the situation. Or the IRS may have additional questions for or requirements of documentation for you. If things escalate to a face-to-face meeting, you may want to have a tax professional work with you and accompany you for guidance and support.

•   Whether it’s a correspondence exam or an in-person audit, you’ll get a printed list of specific records the IRS wants to see. If your audit is being managed by mail, you may be able to send the documents electronically or by mail. (Be sure to get a receipt for delivery.) Note the IRS will generally accept copies and they caution against mailing original documents in. If it isn’t possible to send the documents, you can request an in-person meeting.

•   If you need more time to respond to a correspondence exam, you can fax or email a request for an extension using the contact information in your IRS letter. Or, if you’re being asked to comply with an in-person exam, you can contact the auditor assigned to your case to request an extension.

•   Also worth noting: If the IRS finds discrepancies in your return, it may review returns from up to the last six years to better assess what the situation is.

The Takeaway

No one can guarantee a return won’t be audited by the IRS — even if you aren’t doing any of the things most experts say might put you at higher risk. But if you’re honest about your income and your deductions, keep organized and complete records, take care to enter all information accurately, and double-check your work, you may be able to avoid major problems should you get audited.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Are audits always negative?

While IRS audits make most people sweaty-palmed, they can be as simple as answering some questions by mail. They are not necessarily as scary as you may think.

How do I know that I am being audited?

If you are being audited, you will be notified, most likely by mail, by the IRS.

What happens after an audit is conducted?

After an audit is conducted, you will be told the outcome. You may be told you owe taxes and penalties or not. If you are assessed additional taxes and fees, you can complete paperwork and pay them if you agree with the findings. If you don’t, you can contact the auditor to discuss and request a review of the findings. If necessary, the matter can be escalated to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or you can file an appeal with the IRS Appeals Office.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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The Fastest Ways to Get Your Tax Refund

Learning that you are eligible for a tax refund can be a welcome surprise. Or maybe it’s something you’ve been hoping (or even waiting for) for months.

If you have any pressing expenses — maybe you’re behind on a few bills or have been putting off going to the dentist because of the cost — you may be wondering how you might be able to get that money into your hands ASAP.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things any taxpayer can do to help ensure that their refund comes quickly.

This includes e-filing with the IRS (rather than physically mailing in your return) and setting up direct deposit, so there’s no waiting for that refund check to come through the mail.

Read on to learn more about getting your tax refund sooner, including:

•   How to plan your tax return filing

•   How to file electronically

•   How to set up direct deposit

•   How to track your refund

Quickest Ways to Get Your Tax Refund

Here are some key steps you may want to take as tax season gets underway, starting well before Tax Day in April. They’ll help ensure that you get your refund ASAP.

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1. Start Planning Your Tax Return Filing in January

In general, the fastest way to get your tax refund is to file your taxes early, and you certainly don’t want to miss that tax-filing deadline.

This means that, starting in January, you may want to begin collecting all the necessary information for filling out your tax forms, such as your W-2 and any 1099s. You’ll also likely need to decide whether you are going to file on your own (perhaps using tax software) or hire a tax preparation service or accountant to help.

2. Get Your Return in ASAP

The further into tax season that you file, the more likely the IRS is to be inundated with returns. That can slow processing times, which can delay your refund.

If you followed Step 1, above, then you’ll have your documentation organized. All of the forms you need should be issued by January 31.

If you prefer working with a professional tax preparer, it’s wise to book them in advance, since they’ll likely be very busy with other clients. If you plan to use tax software, buy it early and learn how to use it. You’ll be ready to be one of the first filers out of the starting gate.

3. File Your Tax Return Electronically

One of the fastest ways to get your refund can be to choose electronic filing instead of sending your return by mail.

That way, your refund can begin moving through the system immediately, rather than having to wind its way through snail mail and hands-on processing.

A paper tax return can take about six to eight weeks to process, but with electronic filing, or e-filing, taxpayers can typically expect to receive their refund within 21 days. Your tax preparer will usually offer ways for you to file electronically.

Taxpayers can also use tax preparation software such as TurboTax, TaxSlayer, TaxAct, or H&R Block. You can use these programs to file your taxes yourself, or you might go to a professional who knows how to use this type of software. Either way, electronic filing is probably an option.

4. Get Help Filing Your Return Quickly

But what if you don’t have funds for tax help and are feeling overwhelmed by the process and therefore don’t file right away? Fortunately, help is available. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a few options for
e-filing
which can help you get this task completed.

If taxpayers make an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $79,000 or less per year, then they can use IRS Free
File
to turn in their tax forms.

For taxpayers whose AGI is greater than $79,000, they can use the IRS’s Free File Fillable Forms service, which lets you simply input your data onto your tax forms so you can e-file (if you choose this option, you’ll need to know how to prepare your own tax return).

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs also provide help and e-file for taxpayers who qualify.

Most states also offer free e-filing options for state returns.

The IRS has a helpful tool on their website where taxpayers can find an authorized IRS e-file Provider
Locator
. All taxpayers have to do is input their zip code and choose what kind of provider they need.

5. Set Up Direct Deposit

How else to get your refund fast? The speediest way to get your tax refund is to have it electronically deposited into your financial account. This is known as direct deposit, and the service is free. It’s also possible to break up your refund and have it deposited into one, two, or even three accounts.

You can set up direct deposit simply by selecting it as your refund method through your tax software and then inputting your account number and routing number (which you can find on your personal checks or through your financial institution).

Or, you can tell your tax preparer that you want direct deposit.

It’s also possible to select direct deposit if you’re filing by paper and sending your return through the mail (you may want to double check to make sure you didn’t make any errors inputting your financial account information). But remember, paper returns tend to move through processing more slowly.

💡 Quick Tip: As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

6. Open a Bank Account If You Don’t Have One

If you just read the step above and thought you can’t use direct deposit because you don’t have a bank account, this could be the moment to set one up. Perhaps you haven’t gotten around to opening a checking or savings account. Now is a great moment to open one. Many online banks can guide you through the application and opening process online, from your home, in a minimal amount of time. This can be an excellent move as you prepare for tax season.

If you were previously turned down for a bank account, you might want to look into what are known as second chance accounts. Offered by some banks and credit unions, these may not have all the features of conventional accounts, but they can give you a good landing pad for your tax refund via direct deposit.

Recommended: What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

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When Can I Expect My Tax Refund?

As long as taxpayers have e-filed by the deadline and chosen direct deposit, then the refund should hit their account within three weeks. According to the IRS, nine out of 10 refunds arrive in less than 21 days. However, if you file a paper return, the timing will more likely be six to eight weeks.

And, remember, if you file later in the tax season, you might face processing delays. That’s because the volume of returns working their way through the IRS rises significantly. So being an early bird can be among the quickest ways to get your refund.

Recommended: What Is Income Tax Withholding?

Finding Out Where Your Refund Is

Once everything is filed, taxpayers can check their tax refund status on the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? page. This requires inputting your Social Security number or ITIN, filing status, and the exact amount of the refund, which can be found on the tax forms that were submitted.

Can I Track the Status of My Tax Refund?

Taxpayers can check “Where’s My Refund?” starting 24 hours after e-filing.

The site is updated daily, usually at night. The IRS cautions that you may experience delays in getting your refund if you file by mail, or you are responding to a notice from the IRS.

If it’s been more than 21 days and you still haven’t received your refund, you can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 for help. You may also want to contact the IRS if “Where’s My Refund?” instructs you to do so.

Can You Get Your Tax Refund Back the Same Day?

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to get a tax refund back the same day. The speediest timing tends to be closer to eight days from e-filing to direct deposit of a refund.

However, if taxpayers are in a bind, some tax preparation services offer 0% interest tax-refund loans. Tax-refund loans, also called “refund advances,” allow you to access your refund early, but you may want to keep in mind that tax preparers typically charge fees for filing tax returns.

If you are paying a tax preparer just to get the advance, you’ll essentially be paying a company in order to access your refund. Consider these points:

•   Some providers may charge an additional fee for the advance service.

•   These short-term loans range from $200 to $4,000. In some cases, there may be a minimum amount your refund must meet in order to qualify for a refund advance (how much can vary from one company to another).

•   You may only get part of your expected refund in advance.

•   Some companies may offer to give you a prepaid card with the loan amount on it within 24 hours.

•   Once your tax refund is issued, the tax preparer will typically deduct the loan amount from your refund.

Also be aware that you may be offered this kind of quick cash from other non-bank lenders with significant fees. Proceed with caution.

If you’d rather not pay any fees, however, you may also want to look into other options.

•   If you have bills that are due, it may be worth calling up your providers or credit card companies to see if they can extend their due date while you are waiting for your refund.

•   You might open a 0% interest credit card, such as a balance transfer one, and charge an urgent expense on that card and then pay it off as soon as the refund comes in.

What’s the Best Way to Spend Your Tax Refund?

Finally! Your tax refund has arrived. You may wonder about the best way to use the funds. Yes, it can be tempting to splurge on a weekend away or those new boots you’ve had your eye on, but consider this financially-savvy advice first:

•   If you are carrying any high-interest debt, one smart move might be to put your tax refund towards minimizing the debt or, if possible, wiping it out all together. Doing this can help you avoid spending more money on interest charges. It may also help boost your credit score, which may help you qualify for loans and credit cards with lower interest rates in the future.

•   Or you might consider using your tax refund to jump-start one of your current savings goals, such as building up an emergency fund, a downpayment on a home, or buying a new car.

For an emergency fund or savings goals you hope to accomplish within the next few years, you may want to put your refund in a high-yield savings account. These options typically offer a higher return than a traditional savings account but allow you easy access to your money when you need it.

•   Your tax refund can also help you start saving for the longer term, such as retirement or paying for a child’s education. Using a tax refund to buy investments can help you create additional wealth over time to help fund these far-future goals.

The Takeaway

To get your tax refund as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to file early, and, if possible, avoid the mail. That means filing electronically (using the IRS’s free service or tax software, or hiring a tax pro) and signing up for direct deposit when you file.

It’s also wise to keep track of your refund on the IRS site and reach out to the agency if you haven’t received your refund within three weeks.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How can I receive my tax refund sooner?

To receive your tax refund as soon as possible (which typically means within three weeks of filing), file electronically and request that the refund be paid by direct deposit.

Is direct deposit faster than mail for tax refunds?

Direct deposit will typically save time versus a check sent by mail in terms of tax refunds. If you file your return electronically too, you’ll likely have the shortest possible time from finishing your return to receiving funds that are due to you.

When should you start planning to file your tax return?

Tax season begins in January, with the forms you need having to be sent by January 31. It’s wise to start getting organized as soon as possible in the New Year to get your return done. If you work with a professional tax preparer, you might want to book them even earlier since January through April will be their busy season.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?

What Is the IRS? What Do They Do?

One adulting rite of passage is getting familiar with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government organization that manages the American tax system. When doing so, you learn to file your taxes, figure out what you might owe, or see whether a refund could be heading your way. Perhaps you need to pay estimated taxes quarterly.

The IRS doesn’t just collect money, though. It also helps enforce tax laws and provides resources for taxpayers so they can meet their tax responsibilities.

Read on to learn more detail about this, including:

•   What is the IRS? What is the IRS responsible for?

•   When do you need to interact with the IRS?

•   What are some ways to contact the IRS?

•   What are some tax-filing tips?

What Is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?

Who is the IRS? As briefly noted earlier, the IRS is the government organization that manages the American tax system and enforces internal revenue laws.

The IRS also provides American taxpayers with the resources and services they need to understand their tax responsibilities. It also works with taxpayers to make sure they are complying with tax laws and meet their tax obligations. It can be hard to understand your taxes, but the IRS does provide many online resources that can help educate consumers.

💡 Quick Tip: An online bank account with SoFi can help your money earn more — up to 4.60% APY, with no minimum balance required.

What Is the IRS Responsible For?

So, what does the IRS do? These are some responsibilities they help American citizens with:

•   Applying for Employee Identification Numbers (EINs)

•   Understanding and executing tax preparation

•   Providing tax forms

•   Making tax payments

•   Requesting tax refunds.

Recommended: 41 Things to Do With a Tax Refund

History of the IRS

The IRS dates back to 1862 when, during the Civil War, President Lincoln and Congress worked together to create the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue. This was done to introduce income tax that could help pay for war expenses. That particular income tax was repealed just 10 years later, revived in 1894, and was then ruled unconstitutional just a year later.

Over the years, changes were made to the tax system. In the 1950s, the IRS was reorganized (formerly known as the Bureau of Internal Revenue). Almost five decades later, the Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 modernized the IRS, and, to a large extent, it became what we know today.

Recommended: Are Overdraft Fees Tax-Deductible?

When Might You Need to Interact With the IRS?

Interacting with the IRS is a regular occurrence for American taxpayers. These are some examples of times when people need to engage with the IRS.

Filing Taxes

One of the main functions of the IRS is providing a system for Americans to file their taxes. This can now be done online and is free to do. (It’s wise to avoid missing the tax-filing deadline so you won’t be liable for any penalties.)

Making Tax Payments

It’s also possible to make a variety of payments through the IRS, depending on the different types of taxes you may owe. This can be done in full, or the taxpayer can make partial payments as a part of an approved payment plan. The IRS can charge interest and penalties until the full balance is paid.

Making Tax Corrections

If someone needs to make corrections on a return they already filed, they can do so with the help of the IRS. They can do this by filing an amended return. They can use Form 1040-X, which is an amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Tips for Contacting the IRS

If someone needs help with their taxes, they have a few options for how they can contact the IRS for support.

By Phone

Monday through Friday, it’s possible to contact the IRS by phone. (Any residents of Hawaii or Alaska will want to follow Pacific time when planning their calls. Puerto Rico phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.)

Need help preparing for tax season? The type of tax support someone needs can impact which phone number is best to call:

•   Individuals

   800-829-1040

   7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time
 

•   Businesses

   800-829-4933

   7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time
 

•   Non-profit taxes

   877-829-5500

   8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time
 

•   Estate and gift taxes (Form 706/709)

   866-699-4083

   10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time
 

•   Excise taxes

   866-699-4096

   8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time
 

•   Callers who are hearing impaired

   TTY/TDD 800-829-4059

In Person

It’s also possible to receive assistance in person if the taxpayer is able to visit one of the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center Offices. The IRS has a Taxpayer Assistance Center Office Locator that makes it easy to find the closest office.

Tax-Filing Tips

Need to file taxes? These are some tax-filing tips that can make the process easier:

•   Get a head start. Whenever possible, it’s best to start preparing your taxes early. That way, if an issue arises, there is time to resolve it. Filing earlier can give the filer more time to find any missing information they realize they need during the filing process.

   Also, the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get any refund you may be due, so you won’t waste time wondering, “Where is my tax refund?”

•   Keep things accurate. While mistakes do happen, whenever possible, it’s best to file an entirely accurate tax return to help avoid the risk of launching an IRS audit trigger. You may want to work with a professional tax preparer or use tax software to help with this.

•   Plan ahead for extensions. It’s possible to request a tax-filing extension to send in your materials the following October instead of April. However, it’s still necessary to make a good faith estimate about what is owed and pay it. Otherwise, there is a risk of penalties and interest.

   If someone is worried they will need to ask for an extension, it’s best to make that plan sooner rather than later so they can make their estimated payment on time.


💡 Quick Tip: Want a new checking account that offers more access to your money? With 55,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint network, you can get cash when and where you choose.

The Takeaway

Taxes are an unavoidable part of life. While few people like paying taxes and most people would rather not interact with the IRS, the IRS does provide a variety of resources. These tools can help make the process of paying taxes and receiving refunds as simple as possible.

Getting ready for tax season is an important way for consumers to stay on top of their financial life. Opening a new bank account is a great way to get ready to receive a tax refund if you’re expecting one.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How can I pay my taxes to the IRS?

The IRS gives taxpayers a variety of options for how they can pay their taxes. You can do this via a transfer from your bank account, by using a debit card or credit card, or through a digital wallet such as PayPal. You can also pay by check, money order, or cashier’s check through the mail. You may pay by cash at certain retail partners and IRS locations.

Am I able to contact the IRS?

It is possible to contact the IRS by phone (there are different support lines designed for different types of tax issues). If someone lives near one of the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center Offices, they also have the option to receive support in person.

What are some myths about the IRS?

Most myths surrounding the IRS are about how to learn what the date of a refund will be. For example, some people believe they can call the IRS to get their refund date or can order a tax transcript to achieve this, but neither is true. Other myths include that paying taxes is voluntary and that pets qualify as dependents; those are not true either.


Photo credit: iStock/Pgiam

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Are Estimated Tax Payments?

Guide to Estimated Tax Payments

If you are self-employed or receive income other than a salary or employment wages, you could be responsible for making estimated tax payments.

You might think of these estimated taxes as an advance payment against your expected tax liability for a given year. The IRS requires certain people and businesses to make quarterly estimated tax payments (that is, four times each year).

Not sure if you are required to make estimated tax payments or how much you should pay? Here’s a closer look at this topic, which will cover:

•   What are estimated tax payments?

•   Who needs to make estimated tax payments?

•   What are the pros and cons of estimated tax payments?

•   How do you know how much you owe in estimated taxes?

What Are Estimated Tax Payments?

Estimated tax payments are payments you make to the IRS on income that is not subject to federal withholding. Ordinarily, your employer withholds taxes from your paychecks. Under this system, you pay taxes as you go, and you might get money back (or owe) when you file your tax return, based on how much you paid throughout the year.

So what is an estimated tax payment designed to do? Estimated tax payments are meant to help you keep pace with what you owe so that you don’t end up with a huge tax bill when you file your return. They’re essentially an estimate of how much you might pay in taxes if you were subject to regular withholding, say, by an employer.

Estimated tax payments can apply to different types of income, including:

•   Self-employment income

•   Income from freelancing or gig work (aka a side hustle)

•   Interest and dividends

•   Rental income

•   Unemployment compensation

•   Alimony

•   Capital gains

•   Prizes and awards

If you receive any of those types of income during the year, it’s important to know when you might be on the hook for estimated taxes. That way, you can avoid being caught off-guard during tax season.

💡 Quick Tip: Tired of paying pointless bank fees? When you open a bank account online you often avoid excess charges.

How Do Estimated Tax Payments Work?

Estimated tax payments allow the IRS to collect income tax, as well as self-employment taxes from individuals who are required to make these payments. When you pay estimated taxes, you’re making an educated guess about how much money you’ll owe in taxes for the year.

The IRS keeps track of estimated tax payments as you make them. You’ll also report those payments on your income tax return when you file. The amount you paid in is then used to determine whether you need to pay any additional tax owed, based on your filing status and income, and the deductions or credits you might be eligible for.

Failing to pay estimated taxes on time can trigger tax penalties. You might also pay a penalty for underpaying if the IRS determines that you should have paid a different amount.

Who Needs to Pay Estimated Tax Payments?

Now that you know what an estimated tax payment is, take a closer look at who needs to make them. The IRS establishes some rules about who is liable for estimated tax payments. Generally, you’ll need to pay estimated taxes if:

•   You expect to owe $1,000 or more in taxes when you file your income tax return, after subtracting any withholding you’ve already paid and any refundable credits you’re eligible for.

•   You expect your withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of either 90% of the tax to be shown on your current year tax return or 100% of the tax shown on your prior year return.

•   The tax threshold drops to $500 for corporations.

Examples of individuals and business entities that may be subject to estimated tax payments include:

•   Freelancers

•   Sole proprietors

•   Business partners

•   S-corporations

•   Investors

•   Property owners who collect rental income

•   Ex-spouses who receive alimony payments

•   Contest or sweepstakes winners

Now, who doesn’t have to make estimated tax payments? You may be able to avoid estimated tax payments if your employer is withholding taxes from your pay regularly and you don’t have significant other forms of income (such as a side hustle). The amount the employer withholds is determined by the elections you make on your Form W-4, which you should have filled out when you were hired.

You can also avoid estimated taxes for the current tax year if all three are true:

•   You had no tax liability for the previous tax year

•   You were a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire year

•   Your prior tax year spanned a 12-month period

Pros and Cons of Estimated Taxes

Paying taxes can be challenging, and some people may dread preparing for tax season each year. Like anything else, there are some advantages and disadvantages associated with estimated tax payments.

Here are the pros:

•   Making estimated tax payments allows you to spread your tax liability out over the year, versus trying to pay it all at once when you file.

•   Overpaying estimated taxes could result in a larger refund when you file your return, which could be put to good use (such as paying down debt).

•   Estimated tax payments can help you create a realistic budget if you’re setting aside money for taxes on a regular basis.

And now, the cons:

•   Underpaying estimated taxes could result in penalties when you file.

•   Calculating estimated tax payments and scheduling those payments can be time-consuming.

•   Miscalculating estimated tax payments could result in owing more money to the IRS.

Recommended: What Happens If I Miss the Tax Filing Deadline?

Figuring Out How Much Estimated Taxes You Owe

There are a few things you’ll need to know to calculate how much to pay for estimated taxes. Specifically, you’ll need to know your:

•   Expected adjusted gross income (AGI)

•   Taxable income

•   Taxes

•   Deductions

•   Credits

You can use IRS Form 1040 ES to figure your estimated tax. There are also online tax calculators that can do the math for you.

•   If you’re calculating estimated tax payments for the first time, it may be helpful to use your prior year’s tax return as a guide. That can give you an idea of what you typically pay in taxes, based on your income, assuming it’s the same year to year.

•   When calculating estimated tax payments, it’s always better to pay more than less. If you overpay, the IRS can give the difference back to you as a tax refund when you file your return.

•   If you underpay, on the other hand, you might end up having to fork over more money in taxes and penalties.

Paying Your Estimated Taxes

As mentioned, you’ll need to make estimated tax payments four times each year. The due dates are quarterly but they’re not spaced apart in equal increments.

Here’s how the estimated tax payment calendar works for 2024:

Payment Due Date
First Payment April 15, 2024
Second Payment June 17, 2024
Third Payment September 16, 2024
Fourth Payment January 15, 2025

Here’s how to pay:

•   You’ll make estimated tax payments directly to the IRS. You can do that online through your IRS account, through the IRS2Go app, or using IRS Direct Pay.

•   You can use a credit card, debit card, or bank account to pay. Note that you might be charged a processing fee to make payments with a credit or debit card.

•   Certain IRS retail locations can also accept cash payments in person.

Keep in mind that if you live in a state that collects income tax, you’ll also need to make estimated tax payments to your state tax agency. State (and any local) quarterly estimated taxes follow the same calendar as federal tax payments. You can check with your state tax agency to determine if estimated tax is required and how to make those payments.

The Takeaway

If you freelance, run a business, or earn interest, dividends, or rental income from investments, you might have to make estimated tax payments. Doing so will help you avoid owing a large payment on Tax Day and possibly incurring penalties. The good news is that once you get into the habit of calculating those payments, tax planning becomes less stressful.

Another way to make your financial life less stressful: Find the right banking partner.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What happens if I don’t pay estimated taxes?

Failing to pay estimated taxes when you owe them can result in tax penalties. Interest can also accrue on the amount that was due. You can’t eliminate those penalties or interest by overpaying at the next quarterly due date or making one large payment to the IRS at the end of the year. You can appeal the penalty, but you’ll still be responsible for paying any estimated tax due.

What if you haven’t paid enough in estimated tax payments?

Underpaying estimated taxes can result in a tax penalty. The IRS calculates the penalty based on the amount of the underpayment, the period when the underpayment was due and not paid, and the applicable interest rate. You’d have to pay the penalty, along with any additional tax owed, when you file your annual income tax return.

How often do you pay estimated taxes?

The IRS collects estimated taxes quarterly, with the first payment for the current tax year due in April. The remaining payments are due in June, September, and the following January. You could, however, choose to make payments in smaller increments throughout the year as long as you do so by the quarterly deadline.


Photo credit: iStock/pixdeluxe

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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I Make $50,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?

On a salary of $50,000 per year, you can afford a house priced at around $128,000 with a monthly payment of $1,200 — that is, as long as you have relatively little debt already on your plate. However, not everyone earning $50,000 will see this number in response to a loan application. There are many more factors besides income and debt to take into account, such as:

•   Your down payment

•   The cost of taxes and insurance for the home you want

•   The interest rate

•   The type of loan you’re applying for

•   Your lender’s tolerance for debt levels

Each of these factors affects how much home you can afford on any salary, including one at $50,000.

What Kind of House Can I Afford With $50K a Year?

$50,000 is a solid salary, but there’s no denying today’s real estate market is tough. You’ll need to know the full picture of home affordability to get you into the house you want, starting with your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Understanding Debt-to-income Ratio

Your DTI ratio may be one of your biggest challenges to home affordability. Each debt that you have a monthly payment for takes away from what you could be paying on a mortgage, lowering the mortgage amount that you can qualify for.

To calculate your DTI ratio, combine your monthly debt payments such as credit card debts, student loan payments, and car payments and then divide the total by your monthly income. This will give you a percentage (or ratio) of how much you’re spending on debt each month. Lenders look for 36% or less for most home mortgage loans.

For example, on a $50,000 annual salary and a $4,166 monthly income, your maximum DTI ratio of 36% would be $1,500. This is the maximum amount of debt lenders want to see on a $50,000 salary.


💡 Quick Tip: Lowering your monthly payments with a mortgage refinance from SoFi can help you find money to pay down other debt, build your rainy-day fund, or put more into your 401(k).

How to Factor in Your Down Payment

A down payment increases how much home you’ll be able to qualify for. The more you’re able to put down, the more home you’ll be able to afford. Borrowers who put down more than 20% also avoid having to buy mortgage insurance. When you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance every month, you can qualify for a higher mortgage — but you do need to consider if putting down 20% is worth it to you. A mortgage calculator can help you see how much your down payment affects the mortgage you can qualify for.

Factors That Affect Home Affordability

In addition to the debt-to-income ratio and down payment, there are a handful of other variables that affect home affordability. These are:

•   Interest rates When your interest rate is lower, you’ll either have a lower monthly mortgage payment or qualify for a higher mortgage. With higher interest rates, you’ll have a higher monthly mortgage payment and/or qualify for a lower home purchase amount.

•   Credit history and score Your credit score affects what interest rate you’ll be able to get, which is a huge factor in determining your monthly mortgage payment and home affordability.

•   Taxes and insurance Higher taxes, insurance, or homeowners association dues can bite into your house budget. Each of these factors has to be accounted for by your lender.

•   Loan type Different loan types have varying interest rates, down payments, credit requirements, and mortgage insurance requirements which can affect how much house you can afford.

•   Lender You may be able to find a lender that allows for a DTI ratio that is higher than the standard 36%. (Some lenders allow a DTI as high as 50%.)

•   Location Where you buy affects how much house you can afford. This is one area that you can’t control, unless you move. If you are considering this option, take a look at the best affordable places to live in the U.S.

Recommended: The Cost of Living by State

How to Afford More House With Down Payment Assistance

If you want to be able to afford a more costly house, you may want to look into a down payment assistance (DPA) program. These programs can help you with funding for a down payment on a mortgage. You can look for DPA programs with your state or local housing authority. Preference may be given to first-time homebuyers or lower-income families, but there are programs available for a wide variety of situations and incomes.

How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

If you want to know how much mortgage you’ll likely be able to qualify for, you’ll want to take a look at these guidelines.

The 28/36 Rule: Lenders look for home payments to be at or below 28% of your income. Total debt payments should be less than 36% of your income. These are the front-end and back-end ratios you may hear your mortgage lender talking about.

Front-end ratio (28%): At 28% or your income, a monthly housing payment from a monthly income of $4,166 should be no more than $1,166.

Back-end ratio (36%): To calculate the back-end, or debt-to-income ratio, add your debt together and divide it by your income. This includes the new mortgage payment. With monthly income at $4,166, your debts should be no more than $1,500 ($4,166*.36).

The 35/45 Rule: The 35/45 rule is a higher debt level your lender can elect to follow. It’s riskier for them and may come at a higher interest rate for you. This rule allows you housing payment to be 35% of your monthly income and 45% of your total debt-to-income ratio. With a monthly income of $4,166, the housing allowance (35% of your income) increases to $1,458 and the total monthly debt (45% of your income) increases to $1,875.

An easier way to calculate how much home you can afford is with a home affordability calculator.

Home Affordability Examples

Making $50,000 a year gives you around $4,166 to work with each month. Using the 36% debt-to-income ratio, you can have a maximum debt payments of $1,500 ($4,166 * .36). In the examples below, taxes ($2,500), insurance ($1,000), and interest rate (6%) remain the same for a 30-year loan term.

Example #1: High-debt Borrower
Monthly credit card debt: $200
Monthly car payment: $400
Student loan payment: $200
Total debt = $800

Down payment = $20,000

Maximum DTI ratio = $4,166 * .36 = $1,500
Maximum mortgage payment = $700 ($1,500 – $800)

Home budget = $88,107

Example #2: The Super Saver
Monthly credit card debt: $0
Monthly car payment: $200
Student loan payment: $0
Total debt = $200

Down payment: $20,000

Maximum DTI ratio = $4,166 * .36 = $1,500
Maximum mortgage payment = $1,300 ($1,500 – $200)

Home budget = $171,925

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

Your monthly payment directly affects the mortgage you’re able to qualify for. The more monthly debts you have, the lower the mortgage you’ll be able to qualify for. That’s why it’s so important to take care of debts as soon as you can.

That’s also why it’s important to get the best interest rate you can. Shopping around for lenders and improving your credit score can both save you money and improve home affordability. A home loan help center is a good place to start the process of looking for a mortgage.

Types of Home Loans Available to $50K Households

How much home you can afford also comes down to the different types of mortgage loans. Here are some common options:

•   FHA loans If your credit isn’t ideal, you may be able to secure a Federal Housing Administration mortgage. Though FHA loans are costlier, you can still be considered with a credit score as low as 500. FHA mortgage insurance, however, makes them more expensive than their alternatives.

•   USDA loans If you’re in a rural area that is covered by United States Department of Agriculture loans, you’ll want to consider whether the low interest, no-down-loan will make sense for you.

•   Conventional loans Conventional financing offers the most competitive interest rates and terms for mortgage applicants who qualify.

•   VA loans If you have the option of financing with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan, with few exceptions, you’ll generally want to take it. It offers some of the most competitive rates, even for zero-down-payment loans. It also comes with no minimum credit score requirement, though the final say on whether or not you can get a loan with a low credit score is up to the individual lender.


💡 Quick Tip: Don’t have a lot of cash on hand for a down payment? The minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage loan is as low as 3.5%.1

The Takeaway

Your $50,000 salary is the first step in qualifying for the home mortgage loan you need to buy a house. To position yourself for the best possible borrowing scenario, consider paying down debt, working on your credit score, applying for down payment assistance, adding a co-borrower, or some combination of the above. With these moves, home affordability improves a great deal.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $50K a good salary for a single person?

A $50,000 salary is good in terms of covering the cost of living in many parts of the U.S. and with proper budgeting it can even put you on the path to affording to purchase your own home.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

A comfortable income for a single person could be at or above the median income for a single person, which is $56,929 according to data from the U.S. Census.

What is a liveable wage in 2024?

Your living wage depends on your local region, number of working household members, and children. For a single person living in Arizona, the average living wage is about $37,000. If the same person moved to California, an average of more than $44,000 would be needed, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

A salary of $234,342 would put you in the top 5% of wage earners in the United States.


Photo credit: iStock/Tirachard

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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