Tax Liability vs. Tax Deposited: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the distinction between tax liability and tax deposited is crucial for anyone navigating the complex world of finance. And often, these terms are tossed around, creating confusion and a sense of uncertainty. So, what is the difference exactly, and will it affect the way you do your taxes? Read on to learn more about these concepts and how they play a pivotal role in your financial journey.

What Is Tax Liability?

Tax liability is the total amount of tax that you are legally obligated to pay to the tax authorities. This figure is calculated based on your taxable income, which includes wages, business earnings, investment, and other sources. 

It’s determined by applying the relevant tax rates to your income, considering any deductions or exemptions you qualify for. Understanding your tax liability is essential as it dictates the true amount you owe the government. 

How to Calculate Your Tax Liability?

First, calculate your gross income, which includes all earnings from various sources like salary, business income, interest, and dividends. From this, subtract any allowable deductions, such as contributions to retirement accounts or interest on student loans, to determine your adjusted gross income (AGI). 

Next, apply the current tax rates to your AGI, considering your filing status, to find your taxable income. For example, if your AGI is $50,000 and your tax rate is 20%, your tax liability would be $10,000. This calculation forms the basis of what you owe the tax authorities.

How Does Tax Liability for Capital Gains Work?

Tax liability for capital gains arises when you sell an asset, like stocks or property, for more than you paid for it. These gains are classified as short-term or long-term, based on how long you held the asset before selling. Short-term capital gains, from assets held for less than a year, are taxed as ordinary income at your regular tax rate. 

Long-term gains, from assets held for more than a year, usually benefit from lower tax rates. For instance, if you bought stock for $5,000 and sold it for $7,000 after 18 months, you’d have a long-term capital gain of $2,000, taxed at a reduced rate.

On the contrary, if you bought stock for $5,000 and sold it for $7,000 within a year, your short-term capital gain of $2,000 would be taxed at your regular income tax rate. This means the gain is added to your other income for the year and taxed accordingly, potentially at a higher rate than the long-term capital gains tax.

How to Reduce Your Tax Liability?

For a clearer picture, let’s delve into effective strategies to reduce your tax liability. Each approach offers unique benefits in minimizing the amount you owe. From maximizing deductions to strategic investments, here they are in detail. 

Deductions and Credits

Deductions and credits are two pivotal tools in reducing tax liability. Deductions lower your taxable income, directly reducing the amount of tax you owe. Common examples include mortgage interest, student loan interest, and contributions to retirement accounts. Credits, on the other hand, are subtracted from your tax bill, offering a dollar-for-dollar reduction. 

Adjust Payroll Exemptions

Adjusting payroll exemptions is about fine-tuning the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. By submitting a new W-4 form to your employer, you can increase or decrease the number of exemptions, affecting the amount of tax withheld each pay period. With this strategy, you can better match the tax withheld to your actual annual tax liability, potentially avoiding large refunds or large tax liabilities.

Contribute to a Retirement Fund

Contributing to a retirement fund is a win-win for tax planning and future financial security. Contributions to traditional IRAs or 401(k) plans are tax-deductible, directly reducing your taxable income for the year. This not only lowers your current tax liability but also bolsters your retirement savings, growing tax-free until withdrawal.

Donate to Charity

Donating to charity offers a charitable contribution deduction, provided you itemize your deductions. This can significantly reduce your taxable income. The IRS recognizes donations to qualified charities, and these can include cash, property, or even stocks. Beyond the financial benefit, charitable giving also supports causes important to you, adding a philanthropic aspect to your tax strategy.

What Is Tax Deposited?

Tax deposited refers to the amount of tax that has already been paid to the tax authorities — either through withholding from your paycheck or through estimated tax payments. This is not the final tax bill but rather a pre-payment towards your expected annual tax liability. 

For instance, if you’re an employee, your employer withholds a portion of your income as tax and pays it to the government on your behalf, contributing to your total tax deposited for the year.

What Is a Federal Tax Deposit Obligation?

A Federal Tax Deposit Obligation is a requirement for businesses to deposit employee taxes and certain other types of taxes to the federal government. This includes withholding income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from employee paychecks. 

Businesses must make these deposits regularly, either monthly or semi-weekly, depending on the total tax liability. The purpose is to ensure that employee-related taxes are collected and transferred to the government on time.

What Is a Federal Tax Deposit Coupon?

A Federal Tax Deposit Coupon, historically known as Form 8109, was a paper coupon used by businesses to deposit certain taxes, including payroll taxes, at an authorized bank or financial institution. However, it’s important to note that this system has been largely phased out. 

Since 2011, the IRS has required electronic deposit of these taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). While these coupons were once a common sight in business tax payments, the shift to digital means has streamlined the process, making it more efficient and secure for businesses to meet their tax obligations.

How to Make Federal Tax Deposits Electronically?

Making federal tax deposits electronically is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide: 

Enroll in EFTPS

Visit the EFTPS website. Provide your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN), bank account information, and contact details.

Receive Your EFTPS PIN and Internet Password

After enrollment, you’ll receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and an Internet password through mail within 7 days.

Activate Your EFTPS Account

Once you receive your PIN and password, log in to the EFTPS website to activate your account.

Using Bookkeeping Software

Many bookkeeping software solutions offer integrated EFTPS features. Configure your software with your EFTPS credentials and tax details.

Scheduling Payments

Log in to EFTPS or your bookkeeping software. Enter the tax amount, select the tax type, and choose the payment date.

Confirming Transactions:

Review your payment information for accuracy. Confirm the transaction; you’ll receive a confirmation number for your records.

Regular Monitoring

Regularly check your EFTPS account or bookkeeping software for payment status and history. Ensure compliance with deposit schedules to avoid penalties.

The Wrap-Up: Balancing Tax Deposits and Liabilities

There’s a clear distinction between tax liability and tax deposited, and each has its own significant impact on your financial health. While it can be confusing to distinguish the two, understanding and managing them is crucial for total compliance and financial efficiency.

If you’re still struggling with your taxes and need extra guidance, doola is here to help. Our bookkeeping services can streamline your tax processes and ensure that you’re always on top of your tax liabilities and deposits. 

We specialize in simplifying complex tax scenarios, offering tailored solutions that fit your unique financial needs. So, let us take the stress out of tax season and help you focus on what matters most — running your business. 


What happens if the tax liability is higher than the tax deposited?

If your tax liability exceeds the tax deposited, you will owe the difference to the IRS. This typically results in a tax bill and may include penalties and interest if the underpayment is substantial or due to negligence.

What happens if the tax deposited is higher than the tax liability?

When the tax deposited is greater than the tax liability, you are typically entitled to a refund. The IRS will return the excess amount, which can either be directly deposited into your bank account or sent as a check.

How often is the tax liability calculated and deposited?

For individuals, tax liability is calculated annually when filing income tax returns. However, businesses may need to calculate and deposit certain taxes like payroll taxes more frequently, often either monthly or semi-weekly.

Can the tax liability and the tax deposited differ for the same period?

Yes, the tax liability and the tax deposited can differ for the same period. This discrepancy can arise due to changes in income, incorrect withholding, or estimated tax payments not aligning with the actual tax liability.

Is it important to accurately calculate and deposit taxes?

Accurately calculating and depositing taxes is crucial. It ensures compliance with tax laws, helps avoid penalties and interest for underpayment, and prevents paying more than necessary, thereby maintaining financial efficiency.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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