Friday, March 23, 2012

Paying Taxes With A Credit Card Can Be Expensive

TaxTax (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)Your taxes are coming due and you do not have enough money to pay them. So you push the easy button and pull out your credit card. Sure Uncle Sam takes credit cards but did you know that there is going to be a processing fee tacked on to your transaction.

You are going to pay the fee that credit cards normally charge merchants to use the card. The government wants the total taxes due and is not going to eat the transaction cost. If your credit card provides a reward program or miles that cover the extra fees it may be worth it. But generally, with the high processing fee it just does not make sense to pay by credit card.

Credit card payments to the IRS are processed by third-party providers. These companies charge a processing fee, which averages 2.35% (as low as 1.89% through and as high as 3.93% charged by The fee is a deductible business and individual expense.

For example if your tax bill is $8,000, a processing charge of 2.35% will cost $188 which will be added to your total transaction. So if you do not pay off your balance every month you will be paying interest on $8,188 as you slowly pay off your balance. Interest on top of fees makes the whole process, just not make sense.

Even if you pay off the entire balance, your rewards or miles probably will not offset the extra expense.

"Before charging your taxes on a credit card, check into installment options from the IRS, especially if your credit card has a high APR," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of "The IRS will charge interest, but it may be less than what you would pay with your credit card."

If you must use your credit card follow these tips:

  • Make sure the transaction doesn't push you over your credit limit.
  • Don't write your credit card info on your tax documents.
  • Make sure your payment is treated as a purchase and not a balance transfer because the you will be paying higher interest and a balance transfer fee as high as 5%.
  • You can't cancel payments to the I.R.S.
  • If you can use your debit card than go to, where they only charge a $3.89 fee.

If you pay your taxes by credit card because you do not have the money, it is an indication you are not managing your money properly. Do not let this happen again next year. Start putting away the tax payment little by little every month.

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