13.   Payment of Taxes

Generally, semimonthly deposits of excise taxes are required. A semimonthly period is the first 15 days of a month (the first semimonthly period) or the 16th through the last day of a month (the second semimonthly period).

However, no deposit is required for the situations listed below; the taxes are payable with Form 720.

  • The net liability for taxes listed in Part I (Form 720) does not exceed $2,500 for the quarter.

  • The gas guzzler tax is being paid on a one-time filing.

  • The liability is for taxes listed in Part II (Form 720), except for the floor stocks tax which generally requires a single deposit.

How To Make Deposits

Electronic deposit requirement.   You must use electronic funds transfer to make excise tax deposits. Generally, electronic funds transfers are made using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you do not want to use EFTPS, you can arrange for your tax professional, financial institution, payroll service, or other trusted third party to make deposits on your behalf. Also, you may arrange for your financial institution to initiate a same-day wire payment on your behalf.

  EFTPS is a free service provided by the Department of Treasury. Services provided by your tax professional, financial institution, payroll service, or other third party may have a fee. To get more information about EFTPS or to enroll in EFTPS, visit www.eftps.gov or call 1-800-555-4477. Additional information about EFTPS is also available in Publication 966, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System: A Guide to Getting Started.

   Depositing on time. For EFTPS deposits to be on time, you must initiate the transaction at least 1 day before the date the deposit is due (before 8:00 p.m. Eastern time).

You will automatically be enrolled in EFTPS when you apply for an EIN. You will receive a separate mailing containing instructions for activating your EFTPS enrollment after you receive your EIN.

When To Make Deposits

There are two methods for determining deposits: the regular method and the alternative method.

The regular method applies to all taxes in Part I of Form 720 except for communications and air transportation taxes if deposits are based on amounts billed or tickets sold, rather than on amounts actually collected. See Alternative method below.

If you are depositing more than one tax under a method, combine all the taxes under the method and make one deposit for the semimonthly period.

Regular method.   The deposit of tax for a semimonthly period is due by the 14th day following that period. Generally, this is the 29th day of a month for the first semimonthly period and the 14th day of the following month for the second semimonthly period. If the 14th or the 29th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, you must make the deposit by the immediately preceding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Alternative method (IRS Nos. 22, 26, 27, and 28).   Deposits of communications and air transportation taxes may be based on taxes included in amounts billed or tickets sold during a semimonthly period instead of on taxes actually collected during the period. Under the alternative method, the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during a semimonthly period is considered collected during the first 7 days of the second following semimonthly period. The deposit of tax is due by the 3rd banking day after the 7th day of that period.

  For an example of the alternative method, see the Instructions for Form 720.

To use the alternative method, you must keep a separate account of the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the month and report on Form 720 the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold and not the amount of tax that is actually collected. For example, amounts billed in December, January, and February are considered collected during January, February, and March and are reported on Form 720 as the tax for the 1st quarter of the calendar year.

The separate account for each month must reflect:

  1. All items of tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the month, and

  2. Other items of adjustment relating to tax for prior months (within the statute of limitations on credits or refunds).

The separate account for any month cannot include an adjustment resulting from a refusal to pay or inability to collect unless the refusal has been reported to the IRS. See Uncollected Tax Report in chapter 4.

The net amount of tax that is considered collected during the semimonthly period must be either:

  • The net amount of tax reflected in the separate account for the corresponding semimonthly period of the preceding month, or

  • One-half of the net amount of tax reflected in the separate account for the preceding month.

Special rule for deposits of taxes in September.   See the Instructions for Form 720 for a special rule on deposits made in September.

Amount of Deposits

Deposits for a semimonthly period generally must be at least 95% of the net tax liability for that period unless the safe harbor rule (discussed later) applies. Generally, you do not have to make a deposit for a period in which you incurred no tax liability.

Net tax liability.   Your net tax liability is your tax liability for the period minus any claims on Schedule C (Form 720) for the period. You may figure your net tax liability for a semimonthly period by dividing your net liability incurred during the calendar month by two. If you use this method, you must use it for all semimonthly periods in the calendar quarter.

Do not reduce your liability by any amounts from Form 720X.

Safe Harbor Rule

The safe harbor rule applies separately to deposits under the regular method and the alternative method. Persons who filed Form 720 for the look-back quarter (the 2nd calendar quarter preceding the current quarter) are considered to meet the semimonthly deposit requirement if the deposit for each semimonthly period in the current quarter is at least 1/6 (16.67%) of the net tax liability reported for the look-back quarter.

For the semimonthly period for which the additional deposit is required, the additional deposit must be at least 11/90 12.23%), 10/90 (11.12%) for non-EFTPS, of the net tax liability reported for the look-back quarter. Also, the total deposit for that semimonthly period must be at least 1/6 (16.67%) of the net tax liability reported for the look-back quarter.

Exceptions.   The safe harbor rule does not apply to:
  • The 1st and 2nd quarters beginning on or after the effective date of an increase in the rate of tax unless the deposit of taxes for each semimonthly period in the calendar quarter is at least 1/6 (16.67%) of the tax liability you would have had for the look-back quarter if the increased rate of tax had been in effect for that look-back quarter,

  • Any quarter if liability includes any tax not in effect throughout the look-back quarter, or

  • For deposits under the alternative method, any quarter if liability includes any tax not in effect throughout the look-back quarter and the month preceding the look-back quarter.

Requirements to be met.   For the safe harbor rule to apply, you must:
  • Make each deposit timely at an authorized financial institution, and

  • Pay any underpayment for the current quarter by the due date of the return.

  
The IRS may withdraw the right to make deposits of tax using the safe harbor rule from any person not complying with these rules.

Tax rate increases.   You must modify the safe harbor rule if there has been an increase in the rate of tax. You must figure your tax liability in the look-back quarter as if the increased rate had been in effect. To qualify for the safe harbor rule, your deposits cannot be less than 1/6 of the refigured tax liability.


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