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How to Pay Your Taxes: 10 Ways to Make a Tax Payment in 2023

There's more than one way to make an IRS payment, and some of the options may surprise you.
Tina Orem
Sabrina Parys
By Sabrina Parys and  Tina Orem 
Updated
Reviewed by Lei Han

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Back in the day, writing a check was the only way to pay if you owed the IRS at tax time. Now there are a ton of options to choose from.

Taxpayers who use guided tax-prep programs or Free File will be familiar with EFW, or electronic funds withdrawal. This payment option comes standard with most software and allows you to submit a payment directly from your bank account when filing your return.

If you're looking to tackle your tax bill another way, the IRS suggests sticking to an online tax payment method, such as Direct Pay, EFTPS or a credit/debit card, before resorting to mail. Still, a few more payment options, including same-day wire and cash, are available.

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How to pay your federal income taxes in 2023

Click on each IRS payment option below to learn more about common ways to pay your federal income tax bill, what each option will cost you, and the pros and cons of each approach.

1. IRS Direct Pay

IRS Direct Pay is one of the simplest and most affordable options for tackling a tax bill. You can access the free service through the IRS Direct Pay website to submit a payment directly from either your checking or savings bank account. You can also modify or cancel a payment up to two business days before it's scheduled to process.

You don't have to register with the agency to use the service, but you will need to verify your identity before you can submit a payment. The Direct Pay website will ask you to provide the address, Social Security number, date of birth, and filing status you submitted on a prior-year return to confirm that you are who you say you are.

Direct Pay is available to taxpayers Monday through Saturday, from midnight to 11:45 p.m., EST and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. EST.

Internal Revenue Service. Direct Pay With Bank Account. Accessed Apr 11, 2023.

Cost: Free.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Can’t make more than two payments in a 24-hour period.

  • Payment takes up to two business days to come out of your account.

  • No business payments are allowed.

  • Can’t pay from an international bank account unless it has a U.S. affiliate.

2. Electronic funds withdrawal (EFW)

If you use IRS Free File or another tax-prep software to file your federal taxes, this e-pay feature is usually offered directly through the e-filing program. To make a payment, you'll enter your banking information to authorize a direct debit withdrawal. You can also ask a human tax preparer to submit your payment through EFW if the preparer e-files on your behalf.

Cost: Free. Check with your bank for associated fees, though.

Pros:

  • Can be done online via tax-prep software or through your tax preparer.

  • Also works for estimated quarterly taxes and certain business payments.

  • Individual payments and select business payments can be scheduled until your return due date.

  • You can use a different bank account for each payment you submit.

Cons:

  • If the wrong amount was withdrawn, you may need to wait on the Treasury Department to return the money.

  • If you need to cancel a payment, you must wait seven to 10 days after your return is accepted before calling the IRS e-file payment services hotline

    .

  • Once your return is accepted by the IRS, you are not able to modify the payment amount or account information. Instead, you'll have to cancel the payment and select another method.

3. The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)

The IRS offers another online payment service called EFTPS. Unlike Direct Pay, you will need to register in order to use it, which can take up to five to seven days, according to the IRS.

Internal Revenue Service. EFTPS: The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. Accessed Apr 11, 2023.

To enroll, go to the IRS EFTPS website, provide identity and bank information, then wait for a PIN to arrive in the mail. Once you receive it, you'll go back online, set a password and authorize an ACH transaction from your bank account.

With EFTPS you can see up to 15 months of your payment history, change or schedule future payments, and make a payment virtually any time — the voice and online payment service is operational 24/7.

You also get access to customer service reps who can help you with any payment questions that come up.

Cost: Free.

Pros:

  • Works for paying all federal taxes, including business taxes.

  • Can schedule payments up to a year in advance.

  • Can submit same-day payments.

    U.S. Department of the Treasury. EFTPS: Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Can be done online or via phone 24/7.

  • Change or cancel a scheduled IRS payment until two days before the payment date.

  • Can get email notifications about your payment.

Cons:

  • Can take longer to set up than Direct Pay.

  • Your bank may charge a fee if you have it initiate the payment for you (rather than scheduling the payment yourself on the EFTPS website or via phone).

4. Debit card

If you want to pay your taxes with a debit card or digital wallet, you'll need to go through one of the IRS' three independent payment processors: PayUSAtax, Pay 1040, or ACI Payments. Once you choose a processor, you can pay via phone or online. This method involves a processing fee of about $2 and change.

To make a payment, go to the website, then provide the payment amount, your card information and other data. The processor sends the money to the IRS.

Cost: Between $2.20 and $2.50 per payment (the fee goes to the processor, not the IRS).

Pros:

  • Can be done online or over the phone.

  • Works with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, STAR, Pulse, NYCE, Cirrus, Accel, AFN, Interlink, Shazam, Maestro, Jeanie and other cards. You can also use certain digital wallets (such as Click to Pay and PayPal).

Cons:

  • Processing fees.

  • Payments over $100,000 may require special coordination with the processor.

  • Usually can’t cancel payments.

  • Your information goes through a third party.

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5. Credit card

Paying your taxes with a credit card follows the same process as paying with a debit card. However, instead of paying a flat processing fee, your credit card payment will be subject to a fee in the form of a percentage, which means the more you owe, the higher your fee will be. The IRS breaks down what kind of fees you might expect across each payment type in their payment processor fee comparison table.

To make a credit card payment, go to the website of one of the IRS’s three independent payment processors, then provide the payment amount, your card information and other data. The processor sends the money to the IRS.

Cost: Between 1.85% and 1.98% of your payment; minimum fee is between $2.50 and $2.69 (the fee goes to the processor, not the IRS).

Pros:

  • Can be done online or over the phone.

  • Works with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, STAR, Pulse, NYCE, Cirrus, Accel, AFN, Interlink, Shazam, Maestro, Jeanie and other cards. You can also use certain digital wallets (such as Click to Pay and PayPal).

Cons:

  • Fees usually cancel out the value of miles or other rewards earned for using your credit card.

  • High interest rate may apply if you carry the balance on your credit card.

  • Putting a large amount on your credit card could affect your credit score.

  • Usually can’t cancel payments.

  • Your information goes through a third party.

6. Same-day wire transfer

A wire transfer moves money electronically from one person to another using a bank or a nonbank provider. Some financial institutions may be able to support a same-day transfer of an IRS payment. To pay the IRS this way, you'll need to make a copy of the agency's Same-Day Taxpayer Worksheet for each IRS payment you need to make.

Once you fill it in, head over to your financial institution to get the payment scheduled.

Cost: About $25, depending on your institution.

Pros:

  • Speedy money transfer.

Cons:

  • Your financial institution decides the availability, cost and cut-off times for the wire.

  • You have to fill out a worksheet and take it to your bank first.

  • You must fill out a separate worksheet for each IRS payment you make.

  • The transfer is final once processed.

7. Check, money order or cashier’s check

The IRS generally discourages taxpayers from sending payments via the mail, but if you decide to pay your bill by check, money order or cashier's check, have one made out to the U.S. Treasury and mail it to the IRS. Make sure it includes your name, address, daytime phone number, Social Security number or employer identification number, the tax year it should be applied to, and the related tax form or notice number.

Where you send your payment may depend on if you already filed your federal income tax return. The agency has more guidance on its website.

Cost: Stamps and/or mail delivery tracking, plus a possible fee to get a money order or cashier’s check.

Pros:

  • You don’t need a bank account to get a money order.

  • You may not need a bank account to get a cashier’s check.

  • Money orders and cashier’s checks can’t bounce.

  • Money orders and cashier’s checks are trackable, so you can verify receipt.

Cons:

  • You have to go to the bank or another provider to get a money order or cashier’s check.

  • Money orders have a $1,000 limit.

  • Mailed

  • Regular checks can bounce if there’s not enough money in the account or you don’t have enough overdraft protection.

Note that some local IRS offices may also be able to accept an in-person money order tax payment. You can locate and view the services of a Taxpayer Assistance Center near you using the IRS' TAC look-up tool.

8. Cash

Believe it or not, you may be able to pay your taxes using good old-fashioned cash. To do so, first go to the IRS’s Pay with Cash at a Retail Partner website and follow the instructions to make a cash IRS payment. You get an email confirming your information, and the IRS verifies your information. You get a second email with a link to a payment barcode and instructions. You then go to the retail store in the email, have the clerk scan your code, and then you hand over your cash. You get a receipt and payment confirmation.

Participating retailers include Family Dollar, Dollar General, CVS Pharmacy, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Go Mart, Speedway, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, and other select independent locations.

Note that some local IRS offices may also be able to accept an in-person cash tax payment. You can locate and view the services of a Taxpayer Assistance Center near you using the IRS' TAC look-up tool.

Cost: $1.50 to $2.50 per payment.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t require a bank account.

  • Could be cheaper and more convenient than getting a money order or cashier’s check.

  • Available in all 50 states.

Cons:

  • Can only pay $1,000 per day; for some retailers, there's also a $500-per-payment limit. A max of two payments can be made per day.

  • Getting the cash may require a trip to a bank.

  • Might involve carrying a large amount of cash.

9. Mobile via IRS2Go

IRS2Go, the IRS' official mobile app, is available for download on iOS and Android devices. You can use it to make payments via the mobile version of IRS Direct Pay for free or with a debit or credit card (for a fee). No registration is required.

Cost: App is free.

Pros:

  • Mobile-friendly.

  • Can generate login security codes for certain online services (rather than sending them via text message).

  • Can also use the app to find free tax software and tax help.

Cons:

  • Only Direct Pay, credit card and debit card payment methods are mobile-friendly.

  • Using Direct Pay via the app is free, but paying with debit or credit cards still comes with a processing fee.

10. IRS payment plan or installment agreement

If you can’t pay your tax bill in full when it’s due, you can get on a payment plan with the IRS. There are two types of plans: short-term (for people who can pay off the balance in 180 days or fewer) and long-term (for people who need more time).

Cost: $0 to $225, depending on the plan you select, how you enroll and whether you’re a low-income taxpayer.

Pros:

  • Sign up online fairly easily on your own (also by phone, mail or in person).

  • Most taxpayers qualify.

  • Lets the IRS know you’re making an effort to pay.

  • Can arrange to have payments automatically come out of your account (direct debit).

  • Plans can be restructured, modified or reinstated.

Cons:

  • Penalties and interest accrue until the balance is paid in full.

  • There’s a fee to sign up for a long-term payment plan, though low-income taxpayers get a discount.

  • Can’t owe more than $50,000 in combined tax, interest and penalties to get on a long-term plan.

  • Can’t owe more than $100,000 in combined tax, interest and penalties to get on short-term plan.

Frequently asked questions

The IRS gives taxpayers multiple options for making a tax payment. You can pay your bill directly through tax software or your tax preparer. There are also online, mobile, and mailing options, including IRS Direct Pay, EFTPS, debit or credit card, same-day wire, check, and cash.

If you file your taxes without paying your tax bill, late-payment penalties and interest will begin to accrue on the amount owed after the tax-filing deadline. The IRS offers several payment plans that can give you extra time or help you pay off your tax debt in installments.

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