Can I E-file if I Owe?

If you are concerned about filing an electronic tax return because you owe the Internal Revenue Service money, relax. The IRS will be more than happy to accept your tax return -- and your money -- any way the agency can get it. There are several options for electronic filing and that means everyone may e-file, according to the IRS.


The IRS describes four ways to electronically file your taxes. Owing the IRS money, even if the amount is past due from a previous tax year, does not affect your eligibility to use any of these methods. Free File is open to all taxpayers with incomes under $57,000, as of 2012. By going through the IRS website, you can use Free File to access commercial tax preparation software from IRS-approved companies free of charge to prepare your return online and file it electronically. If you don’t meet the income restriction for Free File, you may purchase commercial tax software that includes tools to submit your return electronically. If you prefer, you can have a tax preparer e-file your return on your behalf. Finally, anyone may use the Free Fillable Forms system on the IRS website. This is a database of IRS tax forms and includes instructions and tools for e-filing your return once you prepare it.


When you owe money to the IRS, you can e-file your return without sending in payment at the time you submit your return. The IRS is OK with waiting as long as you pay by the tax filing deadline, which is normally April 15. You have several payment options. You can pay the old-fashioned way by sending the IRS a paper check via snail mail. Alternatively, you may arrange to have the payment debited from an account at your bank or similar financial institution.

Credit and Debit Cards

The IRS also allows you to e-file your return and electronically pay taxes using a credit or debit card. You may also arrange credit or debit card payments by phone. Paying with plastic has the advantage of being safe and convenient, but it will cost you a convenience fee charged by the firm you choose to process your payment. The IRS posts a list of approved providers on its website. You may use American Express, Discover, Visa or MasterCard.


Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, you just can’t get your taxes prepared and filed on time. One good thing about electronic filing is that you can e-file Form 4868 to get a filing extension using any of the approved methods for filing taxes. The IRS says you should provide a rough estimate of how much tax you owe, if any, and send payment when you e-file for an extension. Immediate payment is to your advantage. Extensions give you an extra six months to file without paying penalties. However, you will be charged interest on unpaid taxes during the extension period

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