With federal and state income tax season upon us, many tax questions arise. One of the most common is “can you pay your income tax bill with a credit card??” Here’s everything you need to know about credit cards and taxes.
Federal and State Income Tax and Credit Cards
Death and taxes are the two unavoidable aspects of life. Now that tax season has arrived once again, questions about paying off tax bills are beginning to fill message boards and search engines across the United States.
One of the most asked questions about settling an unexpected tax bill is by using a credit card. A credit card provides the ability to pay off a tax bill with a grace period’s bonus before any interest accumulates. This, in turn, gives taxpayers additional leeway to wait for their next paycheck, stimulus payment, etc., before repaying the credit card balance.
Is this process legal, however? Can you pay taxes with a credit card?
Can You Pay Your Taxes with a Credit Card?
So, can you pay your IRS tax bill with a credit card?
Yes, it is legal to pay your taxes with a credit card. The IRS has authorized several third-party payment processors to accept credit card payments on their behalf. However, the payment processor will charge a fee for processing the credit card payment and the amount of taxes owed.
The IRS allows taxpayers to settle their outstanding tax bill through a credit card or debit card through three payment processors. Keep in mind that paying taxes with a credit card comes with a service fee of between 1.96% and 1.99% of the transaction cost:
|Payment Processor||Service Fees|
|ACI Payments, Inc.||1.99% of the transaction costs ($2.60 minimum)|
|Pay1040||1.99% of the transaction costs ($2.58 minimum)|
|PayUSAtax||1.96% of the transaction costs ($2.69 minimum)|
Other important credit card payment details for taxes include:
- Your card statement will list your payment as “The United States Treasury Tax Payment” and your fee as “Tax Payment Convenience Fee” or something similar.
- Federal tax lien releases can take up to 30 days after we receive full payment; liens may remain for other individuals who have not fully paid their portion.
- The IRS gets no portion of any processing fees
Can You Use a Credit Card to Pay Your Taxes with Tax Preparation Services?
What about tax software services? Filing taxes through online tax preparation services and apps, like HR Block, TurboTax, and more, offer ease, speed, and the confidence that tax experts stand behind all returns.
Filing taxes through these services also allows taxpayers to pay fees and back taxes with credit cards – at an additional cost. The IRS also lays out these fees, which are as follows:
|Payment Processor||Service Fees|
|ACI Payments, Inc.||1.98% of the transaction costs ($2.50 minimum)|
|Pay1040||1.87% of the transaction costs ($2.50 minimum)|
|1040tax||1.85% of the transaction costs ($2.69 minimum)|
Other significant tax payment details when filing with tax services include:
- The integrated e-file and e-pay debit or credit card option is available through tax preparation software and tax professionals. Refer to tax preparation software or your tax professional to determine if the debit or credit card option is available and for more information about it.
- Some tax preparation software may allow partial payments. Multiple payments cannot be made through tax preparation software.
What Are the Benefits of Paying Taxes with a Credit Card?
Since the IRS accepts credit card payments, should you consider using your card this tax season? Using a credit card comes with a variety of benefits, including:
Credit cards allow users to offset purchases, either with or without interest. As previously mentioned, the introductory grace period with a credit card provides a 21-day window in which tax payments will not accrue interest. This basic feature can provide breathing space for raising additional funds to pay off the balance.
Some credit cards may also feature a 0% introductory APR on purchases. These special financing periods can help the cardholder pay off any tax bill balances over an extended period with no extra interest payments.
Some credit cards will also offer rewards points, cash back, or frequent flyer miles. No rewards credit card offers “taxes” as a bonus spending category, so cardholders will have to settle for a basic rewards rate. Still, with cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, that equates to 2% cash back – meaning a $500 tax payment comes with a $10 rebate.
What Are the Drawbacks of Paying Taxes with a Credit Card?
While paying taxes with a credit card might sound like a great idea, there are equally compelling reasons not to do this. Some of the negatives regarding credit cards and your taxes include:
The most glaring downside of paying taxes with a third-party processor is the additional fees it may incur. While the fees listed above don’t look imposing on paper, they can add up to a decent chunk of money – which isn’t ideal if you expect to owe money after you file. Imagine you owe the IRS $10,000 in taxes; you might end up paying an additional $200 to use your credit card to pay.
Credit cards are great for earning points, but they also serve another purpose – to let you pay over time. Like any other credit card purchase, using your card to pay taxes allows you to repay what you owe over time – but with added interest. That same $10,000 tax bill would become almost unmanageable instantly unless you have a robust plan for repayment.
Should You Use Your Credit Card to Pay Your State and Federal Income Tax?
While paying income tax with your credit card offers some benefits, always be sure to weigh the positives with the negatives before using your go-to credit card this tax season.
Can you afford to repay the balance? Not paying off the balance within any grace or promotional period will incur interest.
What impact will the tax bill have on your credit score? Because credit utilization makes up a big percentage of your FICO credit score, paying your income tax with a credit card can raise your credit utilization ratio significantly – and drop your credit score quickly.
Also, keep in mind that not all taxes are eligible for credit card payments. The IRS website lists all eligible taxes that accept credit card payments – including tax bills over $100,000. Make sure your tax form qualifies before attempting to pay with a credit card.
Ultimately, paying income tax with a credit card is possible but requires careful consideration. Do your homework and determine if this process is right for you – and then make sure you repay the balance without falling behind.
Related Article: What is the Longest 0% APR Credit Card?
Featured photo by Sarah Pflug / Burst
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