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Got a big tax bill, and wondering how to pay it? You can charge your taxes on a credit card, but you will pay a processing fee and, depending on your credit card situation, you could end up paying interest as well. So the better question might be should you pay your taxes with a credit card.
Let’s start with how paying your taxes with a credit card works, though.
Tax payment processors such as Pay1040.com, PayUSAtax.com, ValueTaxPayment.com, OfficialPayments.com and ChoicePay.com allow taxpayers to pay tax bills using their credit cards. Most e-file software services provide access to these third-party processors and will give you a credit card payment option when it comes time to select how you will pay any taxes you owe.
Processing Fees Vary According to Payment Processor
OfficialPayments.com has a slightly higher processing fee than its competitors at 2.00%, according to the IRS website. PayUSAtax.com is second highest at 1.98% and Pay1040.com is slightly less at 1.87%. Each processor accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express.
When you choose to make a tax payment by credit card, you usually can’t cancel the payment. So it’s important to only charge what you can easily manage to pay. Also note that fees can differ when you choose the integrated IRS e-file and e-pay options.
How Taxes Appear on Your Card Statement
When you pay your tax bill by credit card, the payment will be listed as “United States Treasury Tax Payment” on your card statement. And the processing fee that you pay the payment processor will be listed as “Tax Payment Convenience Fee” or something similar.
Choose the Best Card
If it will take a few months or more to pay off a tax bill charged on a credit card, choose your credit card with the lowest interest rate. Using a card with a 0% introductory interest rate and paying the full tax bill before the teaser ends would be ideal.
Some taxpayers may want to reach for a rewards credit card because the rewards, such as a cash back offer, will help to offset the processing fee that they pay. Before you pull out a rewards card to pay for a tax bill, take a close look at the card’s interest rate and calculate how long it will take you to pay the bill in full. Carrying a big balance on a rewards card with a high interest rate may not be worth the rewards that you earn.
Other Options for Paying Your Taxes
If your tax bill is large enough that you can’t pay it off quickly, and/or you don’t have a credit card with a low or 0% APR, there are better alternatives that will help you avoid paying credit card interest on your already sizeable tax bill. The IRS provides for payment plans for taxpayers meeting certain criteria. These plans can reduce, or eliminate altogether, penalties and interest, so it’s worth your time to consider this option, especially if you’re already financially strapped. You can learn more on the IRS payment plan and installment agreement explainer page.
This article has been updated. It was originally published Feb. 20, 2014.