7 Options for Sending IRS Payments—It's Easier Than You Might Think

You can trust the internet or you can stop by in person

The 2020 tax deadline for U.S. residents to file their annual tax returns and pay any taxes owed to the IRS is now July 15. Both moves are part of the U.S. government's response to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus sweeping the country. 

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 the good, old-fashioned way.

Considerations in 2020

Some taxpayers might find that they can't even make the extended July 15 or payment dates due to the effects of COVID-19. You can typically take an extension by filing Form 4868 with the IRS instead of a return, giving yourself an additional six months until Oct. 15.

Technically, any payment you owe will still be due by July 15. You're more or less supposed to wing it and send the IRS an estimate of what you think you'll owe if you ask for and receive an extension of time to file your return. You should submit your tax payment along with your extension request. You'll receive a refund if you remit too much, or you'll owe the IRS more when you actually file your return if you complete it only to realize that you've underpaid.  

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

Pay Online Using DirectPay

Woman paying bills on digital tablet
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

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

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

The only downside is that you must reenter your personal, identifying information each time you use DirectPay, which can be a bit of a nuisance. The system doesn't save it for you, and you can't set up an account here. But it gets the job done relatively quickly and efficiently. 

DirectPay handles 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'll receive instant email confirmation of your payments for your records if you request it. 

Pay Online From Your Bank Account Using EFTPS.gov

Building facade of Treasury Department
Glowimages / Getty

You can schedule payments up to 365 days in advance for any tax due to the IRS after registering with the Electronic Federal Payment System (EFTPS). As with DirectPay, 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 your estimated tax payments at the same time, if your payments are particularly large, or if they're related to your business.

The Treasury Department operates EFTPS, and it doesn't charge any processing fees. It can handle any type of federal tax payment, including 1040 balance due payments, extension payments, payroll taxes, and corporate taxes.

You must enroll with EFTPS, but the site saves your account information so you don't have to keep reentering 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. 

Pay Online by Debit or Credit Card

Pile of Visa and Mastercard credit cards
S3 Studio/Getty Images

You also can pay by credit or debit card, but you must use one of the payment processors that's approved by the IRS. Three processors are available as of the 2020 calendar year and you can access any of them on the IRS website or through the IRS2Go mobile app:

They all do 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 this option.

Mail a Check or Money Order

pen on check
ATU Images/Getty Images

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

You can also send money orders this way. 

Send the check along with Form 1040-V, which is a payment voucher, but don't staple or paperclip the check to the voucher. Mail it to the appropriate address shown on page two of the 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. Addresses differ depending on your state of residence and can change periodically, so be sure to access them from the 2019 form or directly on the website.

Pay in Person

Person paying cash with teller
Juanmonino / Getty

If you really want to go old school—and many people do because they're concerned about hacking and fraud scams—you can pay up at your local IRS office. Make an appointment online before going to the office so you don't have to wait an inordinate amount of time, or worse, come back another day. These offices can get busy.  

Taxpayer Assistance Centers are closed as of March 2020 and until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, so this won't be an option early in the year.

A 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. OfficialPayments.com/fed provides a list of these stores. Just click on "PayNearMe" under the "Extras" tab.

Don't attempt this option if your payment is due tomorrow because it can take stores five to seven business days to process payments. 

Both these options allow you to pay in cash. You can also pay by check or money order. 

Set up an Electronic Funds Withdrawal

Woman using digital tablet and credit card on tablet
John Lamb/Getty Images

You can usually set up a direct debit from your checking account if you use tax preparation software to e-file your return, either on your own or through a tax professional. It's generally just a simple matter of entering your bank account information into your software program, but this option isn't available to taxpayers who don't e-file.

Ask Your Bank About a Wire Service

Bank building facade
Danita Delimont / Getty

Banks have the ability to set up same-day wire transfers payable to the IRS, although they don't generally 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 $5. 

Avoid Owing in the Future

Adjust your withholding so more tax is taken out of each paycheck or pension payment. Your employer or plan administrator will take care of the dirty work for you, sending your money to the IRS on your behalf. You're left with using one of these options to remit, however, if you're an independent contractor or otherwise exempt from withholding so you must make estimated tax payments.

Article Sources