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 deadline for U.S. residents to file their annual tax returns with the IRS falls on April 15 in 2020, as it did in 2019. This is also the date when tax payments are due. 

Tax Day can be bumped back a day or two in some years if April 15 falls on a weekend or a legal holiday. The deadline can also be extended to accommodate events like extreme weather conditions and other unique situations, although this is rare. Taxpayers can typically take an extension, giving themselves an additional six months until October 15 if they simply can't file their returns by the original deadline.

You more or less have 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 make your payment or payments in several ways. If you have difficulty paying the full sum of the tax you owe, you can request the IRS to work with you and set up a payment plan.

01
Pay Online Using DirectPay

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You can set up an electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account through the DirectPay service on the IRS website. 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 payments up to two business days before you've scheduled them to remit. 

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. 

02
Pay Online From Your Bank Account Using EFTPS.gov

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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. 

03
Pay Online by Debit or Credit Card

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You can pay by credit or debit card, but you must use one of the payment processors approved by the IRS. Three processors are available as of the 2019 calendar year: PayUSATax.comPay1040.com, and OfficialPayments.com/fed

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 this option.

04
Mail a Check or Money Order

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

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

You can also send money orders this way. 

05
Pay in Person

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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.  

A similar option is to visit an IRS "retail partner," participating retail stores that will transmit your payment for you. OfficialPayments.com/fed provides a list of these stores. Just click on "PayNearMe" under the "Official Extras" tab. But don't attempt this option if your payment is due tomorrow. It can take stores several days to process payments. 

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

06
Set up an Electronic Funds Withdrawal

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You can usually set up a direct debit from your checking account if you use tax preparation software and 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. 

07
Ask Your Bank About a Wire Service

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Banks have the capability 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 more significant, often 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 your income is such that you must make estimated tax payments.