IRS Payment Options: Debit, Credit & 7 More Ways to Pay Taxes

There's more than one way to make an IRS payment, and some of the options may surprise you.

Tina OremMar 17, 2021
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Back in the day, writing a check was pretty much the only way to make an IRS payment. Now, however, there are a ton of options. Here’s how today’s options for making an IRS payment work, what they cost and some pros and cons of each IRS payment method.

1. IRS Direct Pay

How it works: You go to the IRS Direct Pay website, verify your identity and bank information, and authorize an ACH debit from your bank account.

Cost: Free

Pros: 

  • Can be done online.

  • Also works for paying estimated taxes, installment agreement payments, and payments for amended returns and tax extensions.

  • Can schedule payments up to 365 days in advance.

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

  • Can get email notifications about your payment.

  • Can make same-day payments.

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 allowed.

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

2. The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)

How it works:  You go to the IRS EFTPS website, provide identity and bank information, wait about a week for a PIN to arrive in the mail, set a password, go back online and authorize an ACH transaction from your bank account.

Cost: Free

Pros: 

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

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

  • Can schedule payments up to a year in advance.

  • Can make same-day payments.

  • 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).

3. Make an IRS payment with a same-day wire transfer

How it works: A wire transfer moves money electronically from one person to another using a bank or a nonbank provider.

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 the IRS' Same-Day Taxpayer 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.


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4. Make an IRS payment with a debit card

How it works: You 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 $2 and $3.95 per payment (the fee goes to the processor, not the IRS).

Pros: 

  • Can be done online or over the phone.

  • Works with PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, STAR, Pulse, NYCE cards and digital wallets for Visa, Mastercard and American Express (depending on which provider you choose).

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.

5. Make an IRS payment with a credit card

How it works: You go to the website of one of the IRS’ 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 1.96% and 1.99% 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 PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, STAR, Pulse, NYCE cards and digital wallets for Visa, Mastercard and American Express (depending on which provider you choose).

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. Make an IRS payment with a check, money order or cashier’s check

How it works: 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 related tax form or notice number.

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.

  • You must mail the check, money order or cashier’s check.

  • Payment may take days or weeks to get there and post.

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

7. Make an IRS payment in cash

How it works: Go to the IRS’ PayNearMe 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 code 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.

Cost: $1.50 to $3.99 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:

  • Participating retailers: 7-Eleven, ACE Cash Express, Casey’s General Store, CVS Pharmacy, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Walgreens, Pilot Flying, Speedway, Kum & Go, Stripes, Royal Farms & Gomart

  • Can take two business days to process payment.

  • Can only pay $1,000 per day; for some retailers there's also a $500-per-payment limit.

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

  • Might involve carrying a large amount of cash.

8. Make an IRS payment on mobile via IRS2Go

How it works: IRS2Go is the IRS’ official mobile app. 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).

Cost: App is free

Pros:

  • Mobile-friendly.

  • Can generate login security codes for certain online services (rather than send 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.

9. Make IRS payments in installments

How it works: 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 (see all the details here)

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 (for a fee of $10-$89).

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 to get on a long-term plan.

  • Can’t owe more than $100,000 to get on short-term plan.

Find the tax relief company that's best for you

We've weighed the pros and cons of some major players in the space.

Fees

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  • $750-$5,000 resolution fees; $3,000 average.

Services

  • Dedicated case analyst.

  • Phone, email, mail and online portal.

  • Refunds possible but somewhat limited.

Fees

  • Free initial consultation.

  • $495 investigation fees.

  • $1,500-$4,000 resolution fees (on average; depends on case specifics).

Services

  • Dedicated case manager.

  • Phone, email, mail and online portal.

  • Refunds only within 15 days of enrollment.

Fees

  • Free initial consultation.

  • $399 investigation fees.

  • average resolution fees just under $1,500 per the company.

Services

  • Some case managers are also enrolled agents or CPAs.

  • Phone, email, mail and chat via online portal.

  • Refunds possible but somewhat limited.

Some tax rules have changed due to coronavirus
Learn more about what's different for taxpayers as part of the federal government's response to the coronavirus.