How To Pay the IRS

There are 7 easy ways to send payments to the IRS

Woman making payment on a laptop at home
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The IRS typically announces the date when it will begin accepting tax returns during the first week of January of each year. You can pay the IRS in several ways when the time comes: in person at various payment centers, online, or by mailing a check or money order through the U.S. Postal Service.

Key Takeaways

  • The IRS has announced that it will begin accepting and processing 2021 tax returns on January 24, 2022. Tax Day is April 18 in 2022.
  • Tax payments are due by the filing deadline. An extension of time to file your return doesn't also extend your time to make payment.
  • The IRS provides internet options for payment, or you can visit one of its retail partners or mail your payment through the U.S. Postal Service.
  • You can ask the IRS for an installment agreement to pay your tax debt over time, but interest will apply.

Online With Direct Pay

You can set up an electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account through Direct Pay on the IRS website if you have the money on hand to pay what you owe. You can also access Direct Pay on the IRS2Go mobile app. It's the official IRS app, available through the Amazon App Store, the Apple App Store, or Google Play.

The IRS doesn't charge a processing fee for this option. You can schedule payments up to 30 days in advance. You can also cancel or change them up to two business days before you've scheduled them.

The only downside is that you must re-enter your personal, identifying information each time you use Direct Pay, which can be a bit of a nuisance. The system doesn't save it for you. You can't set up an account there. But it does get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Direct Pay accommodates numerous types of payments related to Form 1040, such as balance due payments, estimated payments, and extension payments. It accepts some other less common payment types as well.

You can receive instant email confirmation of your payments for your records if you request it.

From Your Bank Account Using EFTPS.gov

You can schedule payments up to 365 days in advance for any tax due to the IRS when you register with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). As with Direct Pay, you can cancel or change payments up to two business days before the transmittal date.

EFTPS is a good choice if:

  • You want to schedule all of your estimated tax payments at the same time
  • Your payments are particularly large
  • Payments are related to your business

The Treasury Department operates EFTPS. It doesn't charge any processing fees. It can handle any type of federal tax payment, including:

  • 1040 balance due payments
  • Extension payments
  • Corporate taxes
  • Payroll taxes

You must enroll with EFTPS, but the site saves your account information. You don't have to keep re-entering it each time you want to make a payment. You'll receive an email with a confirmation number for each transaction. EFTPS saves your payment history for up to 16 months.

Online by Debit or Credit Card

You can pay the IRS by credit or debit card, but you must use one of the approved payment processors. Three processors are available. You can access any of them on the IRS website or through the IRS2Go mobile app:

They all charge a processing fee, which can vary, but this fee might be tax-deductible, depending on your tax situation. It's usually a flat fee for a debit card transaction or a small percentage of your payment if you're using a credit card. Your credit card company might charge you interest as well.

You can't cancel payments using the credit card or debit card option.

Pay by Check or Money Order

You can always make a check payable to the United States Treasury if you prefer sidestepping the internet and you want to make a conventional payment. Be sure to write your Social Security number, the tax form number, and the tax year in the memo field of your paper check.

You can also send money orders to the IRS if you use the mail-in option.

Send the check along with Form 1040-V, which is a payment voucher, but don't staple or paperclip them together.

Mail it to the appropriate address shown on page 2 of Form 1040-V, or you can find the correct address for the nature of your payment and your state of residence on the IRS website. These addresses vary depending on your state of residence and whether you're also submitting a payment. They can change periodically. Be sure to access them from returns for the current tax year or directly on the website.

Pay in Person

You can pay at your local IRS office if you're concerned about hacking, fraud, or scams. Make an appointment online before going to the office so you won't have to wait or go back another day.

One similar option is to visit an IRS "retail partner," one of more than 7,000 participating retail stores nationwide that will transmit your payment to the IRS for you. Check out the list of participating stores, and follow the directions to make a payment in person.

Both options let you pay by cash, check, or money order, but don't choose this option if your payment is due tomorrow. It generally takes stores at least two business days, and sometimes up to five to seven days, to process payments.

Pay With Electronic Funds Withdrawal

You can usually set up a direct debit from your checking account if you use tax preparation software to e-file your return or if you enlist the services of a tax professional. This option involves entering your bank account and routing numbers into the program. It's only available to taxpayers who e-file.

Pay With a Bank Wire Transfer

Banks can set up same-day wire transfers payable to the IRS, although they generally don't advertise it. Fees for this service can vary from negligible to significant, depending on the size of the payment.

Your request might be politely declined if you want to wire a very small amount, such as $5.

If You Need an Extension of Time to File

Some taxpayers might find that they can't make the tax filing date. You can typically take an extension by filing Form 4868 with the IRS (instead of a tax return) by the tax filing deadline, giving you until October 18, 2022, to submit your return. But any payment you owe is still due by the original tax due date, which is April 18 in 2022 for 2021 tax returns. You should submit your tax payment along with your extension request.

You'll receive a refund if you remit too much, but you'll owe the IRS more if you later complete your return only to realize that you've underpaid for the year.

The IRS has announced that victims of the December 2021 wildfires and straight-line winds in Colorado have until May 16, 2022, to file their 2021 tax returns with the IRS. This also gives you until May 16 to make a payment if you're affected. Check the IRS disaster relief announcements if your area is subject to a disaster and you want to find out if your state's deadline has been extended.

You can ask the IRS to work with you and set up a payment plan if you have difficulty paying the full amount of tax you owe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you set up a payment plan with the IRS?

The Online Payment Agreement application is the first step in establishing a payment plan with the IRS. You can call 800-829-1040 if you don't want to apply online.

How do you know whether the IRS received your payment?

Payments should be recorded in your IRS online account.

How long does it take the IRS to process a payment?

You should wait at least 48 hours before checking to see whether a payment has been posted to your IRS online account.

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