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Can You Pay Taxes With a Credit Card?

Written by
Andrew Tavin, CFEI
Andrew Tavin is a personal finance writer who covered budgeting with expertise in building credit and saving for OppU. His work has been cited by Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and Hacker News, and he is a Certified Financial Education Instructor through the National Financial Educators Council.
Read time: 4 min
Updated on June 26, 2024
woman holding her hands up asking can you pay taxes with a credit card?
Yes, you can! But it may cost you in other ways.

You can e-file your tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website offers you the option to work out a payment plan if you need it and meet certain qualifications. Software packages for the preparation of American income tax returns like TurboTax guide you through the process step by step. You can even set up direct monthly payments to pay your taxes from your bank account. Despite all of this advanced tax technology, why can’t taxpayers pay their federal tax bill with a credit card?

As it turns out, they can! Just not directly.

While the IRS does not directly process tax payments from credit cards, it collaborates with multiple payment processors. Unfortunately, there are processing fees and other limitations when you pay your tax bill with a credit card that you may not incur with other payment methods.

Are these convenience fees worth it come tax season?

Paying your tax bill with a credit card or debit card

The IRS website will direct you to three payment processors if you want to make a tax payment with a credit card. They are:

Every payment processor has different specifications regarding which cards or payment methods they can accept and how much they charge in fees or interest rates, which you can see here. Generally, using cards like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and even Discover shouldn’t be a problem, however, it is always best to double-check before relying on this method.

The payment processors mentioned above charge a percentage of the amount you owe for credit card use. In addition, they will also charge a flat fee for debit card use. The bottom line: Paying your federal income tax by credit or debit card is feasible.

Many states can also accept credit card payments for taxes owed to them, though you will have to check online to see if your state is one of them.

Of course, not all possible ideas in the personal finance world are good ideas.

Is handling your tax payment with a credit card a good idea?

It really depends on your specific situation.

If you are planning to use a credit card because you cannot afford your tax burden, putting it all on your credit card balance is just prolonging the issue. While you may get the IRS off your back in the short term, it could lead to long term financial challenges, depending on your credit limit and interest rate, as other expenses pile up.

If you are considering paying your federal tax obligation with a credit card, it’s important to first examine the cost of arranging an installment agreement with the IRS, according to certified public accountant (CPA) Bret Scholl. “More often than not, especially for tax returns filed on time, the penalties and interest charged by the IRS can be much less than those of a credit card.”

Working out an installment plan with the IRS comes with a setup fee that may be higher than the credit card transaction fee; however, using a credit card still comes with a risk of accumulating interest charges if you aren’t able to pay off your bill in full during the grace period. Your individual circumstances will determine the pros and cons of each option, so it’s important to carefully examine the numbers before deciding how to handle your tax bill.

Credit card benefits

While using a credit card to pay your taxes may add to your overall tax bill expense, it may be a reasonable option in the right circumstances.

“If someone has some non-interest-bearing credit card offers that cover the period they need to pay off their tax bill, that can be an even better deal,” Scholl says. “It makes sense, especially for longer-term payment arrangements, to carefully compare what you would pay the credit card or loan company to what the IRS would charge you.”

If you have good credit card habits and a rewards credit card, it might be beneficial to charge your tax bill if you can handle the fees. Cards that give you cash back or travel reward perks might (with an emphasis on might) provide benefits that outweigh the fees, but you will have to do some calculations to confirm that out.

When considering your options, look out for whether there is an annual fee and if that advertised sign-up bonus comes with an expiration date.

Remember: Your situation is unique to you

As always, everyone has different circumstances. The temptation to put a big tax bill on your credit card may be strong at times, it’s important to analyze each situation with full awareness of the possible benefits and consequences.

Article contributors
Brett Scholl

Bret Scholl has been in the practice of public accounting since 1981. Bret has worked with thousands of businesses and professionals to combine his high level of tax, finance, and business expertise with a client-centered approach. Together, Bret and his clients build lasting partnerships to create, grow, and sustain successful businesses and their owners’ personal finances.

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