It’s my annual “Taxes from A to Z” series! For the series, I’ll focus on terms that you might see on your tax forms and statements but not necessarily in the headlines. If you’re wondering whether you can claim wardrobe expenses or whether to deduct a capital loss, this is one series you won’t want to miss.
P is for Paying Your Taxes In Pennies (Or Dollars).
As Tax Day creeps closer, it’s time to think about paying Uncle Sam. There are a number of ways to pay – including by check, money order and credit card (more on ways to pay here).
But what if you don’t have a checking account or credit card or you simply want to pay in cash? For goodness sake, do not send cash through the mail. Instead, here are a few options to consider:
- The obvious solution is to convert the cash to a money order or cashier’s check. You can do this at a bank, the U.S. Postal Service or a retailer like Walmart.
- Pay at your local Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office. But. And this is a big but. Check the services provided at your local IRS office to see if cash payments are accepted before you go. Most IRS offices accept check or money orders but only a handful accept cash and those that do require exact change. You can check to see which services your local office provides by finding them on the chart on this page.
- And new for IRS, you can pay your taxes in cash at a participating retail store. To do this, head over to the Official Payments site (note that this isn’t on the IRS site – if following my link makes you nervous, head to IRS first and click through the links) and follow the instructions. You’ll receive an email from Official Payments confirming your information and the IRS will also verify your information. After the IRS verifies your information, you’ll get another email – this from PayNearMe – with a link to your payment code and instructions. You’ll either print out the payment code at home or send it to your smartphone. Then (yes, there’s yet another step), you’ll need to go in person to the participating 7-Eleven location noted in the PayNearMe email and ask the clerk to scan or enter your payment code. Make your payment, get a receipt from the store (keep the receipt) and you’re done. There’s a fee of $3.99 to use this service and the whole process from start to finish can take five to seven business days to process so plan ahead. For more, check out the IRS’ payment page.
And now, about those pennies. Money is money, right? By federal law, at Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, you can pay your taxes in coins and currency:
United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.
Of course, to do so, you have to follow the rules – meaning choosing an option above and not just showing up on the Capitol Steps, cash in hand.
That said, if you want to make a statement by paying in coins or small bills, keep in mind that the folks collecting your payment aren’t the ones writing the rules. Heck, if you’re paying at the 7-11, those folks aren’t even government employees. They’re just hardworking folks like you and me, so play nice. Pay your taxes without a fuss and if you still want to vent, send a letter or email to your Congressional official. Otherwise, you might end up like this guy who was arrested after a payment attempt in folded dollar bills went bad.