Topic No. 202 Tax Payment Options

If you're not able to pay the tax you owe by your original filing due date, the balance is subject to interest and a monthly late payment penalty. There's also a penalty for failure to file a tax return, so you should file timely even if you can't pay your balance in full. It's always in your best interest to pay in full as soon as you can to minimize the additional charges.

Paying electronically is a convenient way to pay your federal taxes online, by phone for (EFTPS: The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) or card payments, or from a mobile device. Electronic payment options are available on our payments page and the IRS2Go app. When paying electronically, you can schedule your payment in advance. You'll receive instant confirmation after you submit your payment. You can opt in to receive email notifications about your payments. The IRS uses the latest encryption technology making electronic payments safe and secure. It's quick, easy, and much faster than mailing in a check or money order.

IRS Direct Pay is a secure service you can use to pay your taxes for Form 1040 series, estimated taxes or other associated forms directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you. Complete the five easy steps and you'll receive instant confirmation after you submit your payment. With Direct Pay, you can use the "Look Up a Payment" feature to view your payment details and status. You can opt in to receive email notifications about your payment. You can also modify or cancel your payment up to two business days before your scheduled payment date.

You can access your federal tax account information through a secure login at irs.gov/account. You can view the amount you owe along with details of your balance, view your payment history, access Get Transcript to download or print your tax records, and view key information from your current year tax return as originally filed. In addition, you can pay using your bank account or a debit or credit card or apply for an online payment agreement if you need more time to pay.

If you decide to pay by mail, enclose a check or money order with a copy of your tax return or notice. Make it payable to the United States Treasury and provide your name, address, daytime phone number, taxpayer identification number, tax year, and form or notice number (for example, 2020 Form 1040) on the front of your payment.

If you can't pay in full, you should pay as much as possible to reduce the accrual of interest on your account. Please refer to Topic No. 158 for information needed to ensure proper credit of your payment. You should consider financing the full payment of your tax liability through loans, such as a home equity loan from a financial institution or a credit card. The interest rate and any applicable fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties set by the Internal Revenue Code.

Short-Term Payment Plans (up to 180 days)

If you can't pay in full immediately, you may qualify for additional time --up to 180 days-- to pay in full. There's no fee for this full payment; however, interest and any applicable penalties continue to accrue until your liability is paid in full. Individuals may be able to set up a short-term payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement (OPA) application or by calling us at 800-829-1040 (individuals). See Telephone and Local Assistance for hours of availability. Note that individuals applying through OPA can set up a plan of up to 120 days at this time.

Payment Plans (Installment Agreements)

If you're not able to pay your balance in full immediately or within 180 days, you may qualify for a monthly payment plan (including an installment agreement). To request a payment plan, use the OPA application, complete Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, and mail it to us, or call the appropriate telephone number listed below. A payment plan allows you to make a series of monthly payments over time. The IRS offers various options for making monthly payments:

  • Direct debit from your bank account,
  • Payroll deduction from your employer,
  • Payment by EFTPS,
  • Payment by credit card via phone or Internet,
  • Payment via check or money order, or
  • Payment with cash at a retail partner.

The IRS charges a user fee when you enter into a payment plan; however, if you are a low-income taxpayer, this user fee is reduced and possibly waived or reimbursed when certain conditions apply. See Additional Information on Payment Plans for more details.

If you are filing a Form 1040 for the current tax year and cannot pay the balance in full:

  • You may request a payment plan (including an installment agreement) using the OPA application. Even if the IRS hasn't yet issued you a bill, you may establish a pre-assessed agreement by entering the balance you'll owe from your tax return. OPA is quick and has a lower user fee compared to other application methods.
  • Alternatively, you may submit a Form 9465 with your return. Installment agreement requests submitted through electronic filing software are processed similarly to a Form 9465; you may use OPA instead, regardless of filing method, for quicker processing and a reduced user fee.
  •  You may also request a payment plan by calling the toll-free number on your bill, or if you don't have a bill, call us at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses).

Before your payment plan request can be considered, you must be current on all filing and payment requirements. Taxpayers in an open bankruptcy proceeding aren't generally eligible. You must specify the amount you can pay and the day of the month (1st through 28th). Your payment must be received by the IRS on your due date. If you plan on mailing your payment, consider mailing time when you select a payment day. OPA will provide an immediate determination for your proposed payment plan. If you mail Form 9465, the IRS will respond to your request typically within 30 days but it may take longer during filing season.

Installment agreements by direct debit and payroll deduction enable you to make timely payments automatically and reduce the possibility of default. These convenient payment methods also allow you to avoid the time and expense of mailing monthly payments or paying electronically each month.

For a direct debit installment agreement, you must provide your checking account number, your bank routing number, and written authorization to initiate the automated withdrawal of the payment. Apply by using the OPA application, contacting us by phone or mailing us Form 9465 with your checking account number and bank routing number. Direct debit installment agreements have a lower user fee compared to other installment agreements, and the user fee may be waived or reimbursed for low-income taxpayers.

For a payroll deduction installment agreement, submit Form 2159, Payroll Deduction Agreement PDF. Your employer must complete Form 2159, as it's an agreement between you, your employer, and the IRS.

Visit Additional Information on Payment Plans for more information.

Offer in Compromise

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is an agreement between you and the IRS that resolves your tax liability by payment of an agreed upon reduced amount. Before the IRS will consider an OIC, you must have filed all tax returns, made all required estimated tax payments for the current year, and made all required federal tax deposits for the current quarter if you are a business owner with employees. If you are in an open bankruptcy proceeding, you aren't eligible to enter into an OIC. To confirm eligibility and ensure use of the current application forms, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool. For additional information on OICs, refer to Topic No. 204.

Temporarily Delay Collection

If you can't pay any of the amount due because payment would prevent you from meeting your basic living expenses, you can request that the IRS delay collection until you're able to pay. If the IRS determines that you can't pay any of your tax debt because of financial hardship, the IRS may temporarily delay collection by reporting your account as currently not collectible until your financial condition improves. Being currently not collectible does not mean the debt goes away. It means the IRS has determined you can't afford to pay the debt at this time. Prior to approving your request to delay collection, we may ask you to complete a Collection Information Statement (Form 433-F PDF, Form 433-A PDF or Form 433-B PDF) and provide proof of your financial status (this may include information about your assets and your monthly income and expenses). You should know that if we do delay collecting from you, your debt continues to accrue penalties and interest until the debt is paid in full. During a temporary delay, we will again review your ability to pay. The IRS may temporarily suspend certain collection actions, such as issuing a levy (refer to Topic No. 201) until your financial condition improves. However, we may still file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (refer to Topic No. 201) while your account is suspended. Please call the phone number listed below to discuss this option.

Responding to Your IRS Notice

It's important to respond to an IRS notice. If you don't pay your tax liability in full or make an alternative payment arrangement, the IRS has the right to take collection action. Refer to Topic No. 201 for information about the collection process.

If you're not able to make any payment at this time, please have your financial information available (for example, pay stubs, lease or rental agreements, mortgage statements, car lease/loan, utilities) and call us at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses) for assistance.

You have rights and protections throughout the collection process; see Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. If you would like information about payment arrangements, installment agreements, and what happens when you take no action to pay, refer to Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process PDF.

For more information about making payments, payment plans (including installment agreements), and offers in compromise, review our Pay page. Also, check Coronavirus Tax Relief and IR-2020-248 for taxpayer relief information.