What You Should Know Before You Pay Taxes With a Credit Card

It's possible to pay your federal and state taxes using a credit card, but you have to pay a fee. Depending on what processor you choose, you may end up paying between 1.87% and 2.00%. Those who file their taxes electronically, through a service like Turbo Tax, will face higher fees, usually over 2.3%. You also have the option to pay your taxes using a debit card, instead of a credit card, for a much lower fee. Debit payments are usually a flat fee between $2.59 and $3.95. If you can, you should always opt to pay your taxes through direct debit or check, as this will be the least costly option.

Paying Your Taxes With a Credit Card

If you are filing your taxes on your own and want to pay your tax bill using a credit card, you will have to use one of the IRS's approved processors. Currently, the IRS relies on PayUSAtax.com, Pay1040.com, and OfficialPayments.com. These companies all charge different rates for the service, so you should choose one that makes the most sense for you.

Payment Processor

Credit Card FeeDebit Card FeeNote
PayUSAtax.com1.98% or $2.69, whichever is greater$2.65Not recommended
Pay1040.com1.87% or $2.59, whichever is greater$2.59Best for credit card payments
OfficialPayments.com/fed2% or $2.50, whichever is greater$2.25, and $3.95 for payments over $1,000Best for debit card payments below $1,000

When you file your taxes electronically, you will often have the option to make a payment through your tax preparation software. These can impose different fees, depending on the service you use. For example, TurboTax charges a 2.49% fee, with a minimum convenience fee of $3.95. Note that these fees can vary and change year-to-year.

There are more ways to pay your taxes with a credit card, but they should be avoided. For example, your card company may mail you a check, called a convenience check, which you could in theory use to pay. However, the fees associated with this type of transaction are extremely high. We don't advise anyone to ever pay for things with a convenience check.

Should You Pay Your Tax Bill With a Credit Card?

Despite the fees, there can be benefits to making payments to the IRS using a credit card. Whether these pros outweigh the negatives will depend highly on the individual and what kind of credit card they're using.

The chief reason why you'd want to use a credit card to pay your taxes is to earn rewards. If you have a cash back credit card, you can get as much as 2.5% back on the payment you make. However, be aware that most credit cards provide cash back rates at around 1.5% or less. That means the fees you'd pay the payment processor would greatly outweigh these rewards. However, if you have a 2% cash back card, you can still pay using either PayUSAtax.com or Pay1040.com, and still come out slightly ahead. If you're e-filing your taxes, it almost never makes sense to pay them with your credit card. The added fees will be higher than any credit card rewards can make up for.

The other advantage of using a credit card to make a tax payment is that it can automatically serve as an extension. If you pay part, or least $1, of your tax estimate, you will no longer need to file Form 4868. Keep in mind, that this on its own is probably not worth the extra credit card fee you'd pay. However, if you pay using a debit card the added convenience of not filling out extra forms and mailing them in may be worth the trouble.

You should avoid paying taxes with your credit card with the intention to carry a balance. Interest charges on a credit card can get very high — much higher than other types of loans. The average APR on a credit card is currently around 14%. If you can't afford to pay your taxes by their due date, consider using an IRS payment plan.

Alternative Way to Pay Your Taxes: IRS Installment Agreement

If you owe $50,000 or less in combined individual income tax, penalties and interest, and you have filed all your required returns, the IRS allows you to make monthly payment through an installment agreement. The IRS states that those who manage to pay their tax debt in full can eliminate or reduce any penalties or interest associated with these installment plans. As of January 1, 2017, a regular installment agreement comes with a $225 fee. You can get this fee reduced if you set up a direct debit plan or if your income is sufficiently low (defined as with income at or below 250% of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines).

If you want to compare that fee against the interest you'd pay with your credit card, we suggest using our interest calculator. Remember to add 2% to your starting balance, in order to account for the credit card fee you'd have to pay.

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For some people, using a credit card will be more affordable. For example, a $1,000 tax bill would cost just $80 in extra chargers if you had a 15% APR credit card and made $100 monthly payments.

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