Topic 202 - Tax Payment Options

If you are 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 is also a penalty for failure to file a tax return, so you should file timely even if you cannot pay your balance in full. It is always in your best interest to pay in full as soon as you can to minimize the additional charges. IRS electronic payment options are the best way for you to pay federal taxes. Paying electronically is the most convenient and secure way to make tax payments. You can make electronic payments online, by phone, or from a mobile device. Paying electronically is safe and the IRS uses the latest encryption technology. You determine the payment date and you will receive an immediate confirmation from the IRS. It’s quick, easy, secure, and much faster than mailing in a check or money order. Electronic payment options are available on the Payments page.

Direct Pay is a secure service you can use to pay your individual tax bill or estimated tax payment directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you. In just five easy steps you’ll receive instant confirmation that your payment has been submitted. Bank account information is not retained in IRS systems after payments are made. Direct Pay is the recommended way to pay your individual and estimated tax bill.

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, SSN, tax period, and form number (2014 Form 1040) on the front of your payment.

If you cannot pay in full, you should pay as much as possible to reduce the accrual of interest on your account. Please refer to Topic 158 for information needed to ensure that your payment is credited properly. 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 are usually lower than the combination of interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.

Full Payment Agreements of up to 120 days

If you cannot pay in full immediately, you may qualify for additional time, up to 120 days to pay in full. There is no user fee for a full payment agreement request; however, interest and any applicable penalties will continue to accrue until your liability is paid in full. For information on full payment agreements of up to 120 days, call us at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses).

Installment Agreements

If you are unable to pay your balance in full immediately, you may qualify for a monthly installment agreement. To request an installment agreement, use the Online Payment Agreement Application (OPA) or complete Form 9465 (PDF), Installment Agreement Request, and mail it to us. An installment agreement allows you to make a series of monthly payments over time. The IRS offers various options for making monthly payments, such as:

  • Direct debit from your bank account;
  • Payroll deduction from your employer;
  • Payment by Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS);
  • Payment by credit card via phone or Internet; or
  • Payment via check or money order.

Before a proposed installment agreement can be considered, all filing and payment requirements must be current. Taxpayers in an open bankruptcy proceeding are not eligible.

The IRS charges a one-time installment agreement user fee of $120 when you enter into a standard installment agreement or a payroll deduction installment agreement. If you choose to pay through a direct debit from your bank account, the user fee is $52. Taxpayers with income at or below 250% of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines may apply for a reduced user fee of $43. You can request the reduced fee by using Form 13844 (PDF), Application For Reduced User Fee For Installment Agreements. Note: The user fee for restructuring or reinstating an established installment agreement is $50 regardless of income levels or method of payment.

If you enter into an installment agreement, you should base your monthly payment on your ability to pay and it should be an amount that you can pay each month to avoid defaulting.

  • If you have not filed your return yet, you may submit Form 9465 (PDF) or attach a written request for a payment plan that includes the monthly payment amount and due date to the front of your return.
  • If you have filed your tax return and cannot pay in full, you may request an installment agreement on your current tax liabilities using the Online Payment Agreement Application (OPA), even if the IRS has not yet issued you a bill (a balance due notice).
  • If you have filed your tax return and cannot provide full payment after receiving a bill from the IRS, you may request an installment agreement using the Online Payment Agreement Application (OPA). You also may submit Form 9465 (PDF) or attach a written request for a payment plan to the front of your bill.
  • You may also request an installment agreement by calling the toll-free number on your bill, or if you do not have a bill, call us at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses).

You must specify the amount you can pay and the day of the month, any day from the 1st to the 28th, on which you wish to make your payment each month. The IRS will expect to receive your payment ON the date you indicate, so be sure to figure mailing time (10 days) into the date you select. The IRS will respond to your request, usually within 30 days, to advise you if your request has been approved or denied or if more information is needed.

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.

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. You may apply online using the Online Payment Agreement application, contact us by phone or in person, or submit Form 9465 (PDF) through the mail. The form has space for you to write your checking account number and your bank routing number or you may staple a voided check to the form.

For a payroll deduction installment agreement, submit Form 2159 (PDF), Payroll Deduction Agreement. Your employer must complete Form 2159, as it is an agreement between you, your employer, and the IRS. In some situations, the IRS may set up a regular installment agreement for you and convert it to a payroll deduction agreement upon receipt of the completed Form 2159 from your employer.

Please visit Payment Plans, Installment Agreements on for more information about installment agreements.

Offer in Compromise

If you cannot full pay and an installment agreement will not work, you may want to propose an offer in compromise (OIC). An OIC is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that resolves the taxpayer's tax liability by payment of an agreed upon reduced amount. Before an offer can be considered, all filing and payment requirements must be current. Taxpayers in an open bankruptcy proceeding are not eligible. To confirm eligibility and ensure use of the current application forms, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool, available on For additional information on OICs, refer to Topic 204.

Temporarily Delay Collection

If you cannot pay any of the amount due because payment would prevent you from meeting basic living expenses, you can request that we delay collection until you are able to pay. If the IRS determines that you cannot pay any of your tax debt due to a 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 cannot afford to pay the debt at this time. Penalties and interest will continue to be added to the debt. 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). The IRS may temporarily suspend certain collection actions, such as issuing a levy (refer to Topic 201) until your financial condition improves. However, we may still file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (refer to Topic 201) while your account is suspended. Please call the phone number listed below to discuss this option.

Responding to your IRS Notice

It is important to respond to an IRS notice. If you do not pay your tax liability in full or make an alternative payment arrangement, the IRS is entitled to take collection action. Refer to Topic 201 for information about the collection process.

If you are unable to make any payment at this time, please have your financial information available (for example, pay stubs, lease or rental agreement, mortgage statements, car lease/loan, utilities) and call us at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses) to receive assistance.

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

For more information about making payments, online payment agreements, and offers in compromise, click the Payments tab on the IRS homepage or go to

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: October 09, 2015