Pay the IRS on your schedule with EFTPS

by Philip Wagenaar, Contributing Editor

I heaved a sigh of relief. I had just filed our income tax return. It was March 2, 2003. Now I could fully enjoy our cruise, which left on March 10. I only had to make sure that the IRS would receive my payment by the April 15 deadline.

I figured I had two options. I could either send the tax due before we departed on our cruise and lose more than a month’s interest or I could ask our daughter to mail the check on April 14. However, if she forgot, I would be hit with a big penalty.

Fortunately, the EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) solved my problem. With this program, the federal government gives the taxpayer the opportunity to make payments electronically. Before you say, “This is not for me,” note how the government summarizes the service.

I quote: “EFTPS is a service offered free by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help you conveniently pay all your federal taxes on the Internet, PC or over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The service is extremely user-friendly (after all, Uncle Sam wants your money) and answers ALL of your questions.

To start, visit and click on “Enrollment.” Alternatively, call 800/945-8400 and ask for a “New Taxpayer Enrollment Form,” which will be sent to you in the mail.

To complete your EFTPS enrollment form, you will need to have the following information:

1. Your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which is your Social Security or Employment Identification number.

2. The Routing Transit Number (RTN) of your financial institution. This is the 9-digit number that appears along with your account number on your checks.

3. Your account number and type (checking or savings).

Within 15 business days after completing the form on the Internet (or mailing the application if enrolling by phone), your Personal Identification Number (PIN) will be mailed to you. In the same envelope, you will find clear instructions on how to proceed.

Once you are enrolled, you can schedule tax payments on any day you like, 365 days in advance, either by phone, through computer software (PC only) or by phone. You can cancel or change a payment amount or date at any time. If you make a mistake, you can correct it.

To make you feel comfortable with the system, the IRS gives you the opportunity to practice first, if you so desire.

To make sure all of your concerns are addressed, the U.S. Treasury lists the following EFTPS phone numbers, where your call is promptly answered.

EFTPS customer service: 800/945-8400

EFTPS phone practice system: 800/945-6400

EFTPS payment using your phone: 800/272-9872 (800/2-PAY-USA)

EFTPS payment online: 877/511-4899

Obtaining your Internet password: 800/488-9199.

I have used the system and can assure you it works like a dream. It even supplies you with a payment history.

For the first time in your life, you may actually enjoy paying your federal taxes (at least, until you look at your bank balance the day after your account has been debited!).