Most taxpayers get refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
Then there are those of us who have to hand over some more money with our tax returns.
The U.S. Treasury will gladly take checks, money orders, credit and debit cards and even direct payments from your bank account.
These are all handy when you have a one-time tax bill to settle. But if you regularly send the IRS money, be it every April with your Form 1040 or estimated tax payments four times a year, Today's Tax Tip looks at an option you might want to consider, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS.EFTPS is a website where, once you set up an account (more on this later), you can make federal tax payments electronically. You just go to the site, sign in, decide which tax payment you want to make and when, enter the info and hit enter.
The money then goes from your account to the Treasury. Essentially, it's Uncle Sam's version of online bill paying. And it's been pretty darn successful.
Since EFTPS (pronounced eff-tips in case you want to work it into a conversation) began in 1996, more than 1.28 billion electronic payments of more than $26.7 trillion have been made using the system.
Some of those payments came from me. I've been using EFTPS since 2006.
Planning ahead: One of my favorite things about EFTPS is the ability to schedule tax payments in advance, up to 365 days ahead to be specific.
Since I've been using it I haven't had one of those freak-out moments where I realize I, for example, I should have paid my third quarter 1040ES. Now I set up all my estimated tax payments for the year when I make the first one on April 15.
Of course, if I get swamped in April and realize I haven't scheduled my regular tax-due payment, the system allows me to set up a payment by 8 p.m. Eastern Time at least one calendar day before the tax due date.
And if a couple of months down the road, I find that I need to increase, decrease or even cancel a payment, that's OK as long as I give EFTPS the word at least two business days before the tax payment is scheduled to be made.
As you can see, I'm a big fan of the system.
Enrolling in EFTPS: But before you can use EFTPS, you have to set up that account that I mentioned earlier in this post. And that's the biggest hurdle.
Although EFTPS it works much like paying private sector bills, you can't just go to the tax payment site, create an account and then pay.
First you have to go to the EFTPS page, click "Enrollment" at the top of the page and follow the steps. After the IRS validates the info you enter, you'll get a personal identification number (PIN) via snail mail in five to seven business days.
When you get your PIN, you use it and your password to login at EFTPS and schedule your tax payments.
If you're thinking of joining me on the EFTPS train this filing season, start the enrollment process now. I'll save you a seat.You also might find these items of interest: