Pay your taxes on-line: Options for both businesses and individuals

These days, both individuals and businesses buy goods, services, even food on-line. Credit card payments and other bills are paid over the internet, from the comfort of one’s home or office and without any trip to the mailbox or post office.

Now, what is probably your biggest “bill” can be paid on-line: your federal income taxes.

There are three online federal tax payment options available for both businesses and individuals: electronic funds withdrawal, credit card payments and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. If you are not doing so already, you should certainly consider the convenience -and safety– of paying your tax bill online.  While all the options are now “mainstream” and have been used for at least several years, safe and convenient, each has its own benefits as well as possible drawbacks. The pros and cons of each payment option should be weighed in light of your needs and preferences.

Electronic Funds Withdrawal

Electronic funds withdrawal (or EFW) is available only to taxpayers who e-file their returns. EFW is available whether you e-file on your own, or with the help of a tax professional or software such as TurboTax. E-filing and e-paying through EFW eliminates the need to send in associated paper forms.

Through EFW, you schedule when a tax payment is to be directly withdrawn from your bank account. The EFW option allows you to e-file early and, at the same time, schedule a tax payment in the future. The ability to schedule payment for a specific day is an important feature since you decide when the payment is taken out of your account. You can even schedule a payment right up to your particular filing deadline.

The following are some of the tax liabilities you can pay with EFW:

  • Individual income tax returns (Form 1040)
  • Trust and estate income tax returns (Form 1041)
  • Partnership income tax returns (Forms 1065 and 1065-B)
  • Corporation income tax returns for Schedule K-1 (Forms 1120, 1120S, and 1120POL)
  • Estimated tax for individuals (Form 1040)
  • Unemployment taxes (Form 940)
  • Quarterly employment taxes (Form 941)
  • Employers annual federal tax return (Form 944)
  • Private foundation returns (Form 990-PF)
  • Heavy highway vehicle use returns (Form 2290)
  • Quarterly federal excise tax returns (Form 720)

For a return filed after the filing deadline, the payment is effective on the filing date. However, electronic funds withdrawals can not be initiated after the tax return or Form 1040 is filed with the IRS. Moreover, a scheduled payment can be canceled up until two days before the payment.

EFW does not allow you to make payments greater than the balance you owe on your return. Therefore, you can’t pay any penalty or interest due through EFW and would need to choose another option for these types of payments. While a payment can be cancelled up to two business days before the scheduled payment date, once your e-filed return is accepted by the IRS, your scheduled payment date cannot be changed. Thus, if you need to change the date of the payment, you have to cancel the original payment transaction and chose another payment method. Importantly, if your financial institution can’t process your payment, such as if there are insufficient funds, you are responsible for making the payment, including potential penalties and interest. Finally, while EFW is a free service provided by the Treasury, your financial institution most likely charges a “convenience fee.”

Credit Card Payments

Do you have your card ready? The Treasury Department is now accepting American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and VISA.

Both businesses and individual taxpayers can make tax payments with a credit card, whether they file a paper return or e-file. A credit card payment can be made by phone, when e-filing with tax software or a professional tax preparer, or with an on-line service provider authorized by the IRS. Some tax software developers offer integrated e-file and e-pay options for taxpayers who e-file their return and want to use a credit card to pay a balance due.

However, there is a convenience fee charged by service providers. While fees vary by service provider, they are typically based on the amount of your tax payment or a flat fee per transaction. For example, you owe $2,500 in taxes and your service provider charges a 2.49% convenience fee. The total fee to the service provider will be $62.25. Generally, the minimum convenience fee is $1.00 and they can rise to as much as 3.93% of your payment.

The following are some tax payments that can be made with a credit card:

  • Individual income tax returns (Form 1040)
  • Estimated income taxes for individuals (Form 1040-ES)
  • Unemployment taxes (Form 940)
  • Quarterly employment taxes (Form 941)
  • Employers annual federal tax returns (Form 944)
  • Corporate income tax returns (Form 1120)
  • S-corporation returns (Form 1120S)
  • Extension for corporate returns (Form 7004)
  • Income tax returns for private foundations (Form 990-PF)

However, as is the case is with the EFW option, if a service provider fails to forward your payment to the Treasury, you are responsible for the missed payment, including potential penalties and interest.

Electronic Federal Tax Payment System

EFTPS is a system that allows individuals and businesses to pay all their federal taxes electronically, including income, employment, estimated, and excise taxes. EFTPS is available to both individuals and businesses and, once enrolled, taxpayers can use the system to pay their taxes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round. Businesses can schedule payments 120 days in advance while individuals can schedule payments 365 days in advance. With EFTPS, you indicate the date on which funds are to be moved from your account to pay your taxes. You can also change or cancel a payment up to 2 business days in advance of the scheduled payment date.

EFTPS is an ideal payment option for taxpayers who make monthly installment agreement payments or quarterly 1040ES estimated payments. Businesses should also consider using EFTPS to make payments that their third-party provider is not making for them.

EFTPS is a free tax payment system provided by the Treasury Department that allows you to make all your tax payments on-line or by phone. You must enroll in EFTPS, however, but the process is simple.

We would be happy to discuss these payment options and which may best suit your individual or business needs. Please call our office learn more about your on-line federal tax payment options.