Q&A: How to pay taxes electronically

Dear Liz: You recently wrote about check theft and the fraud possibilities when paying with checks through the mail. The largest checks that I send are to the IRS and California’s Franchise Tax Board. Is there a way to send in tax payments electronically rather than by check?

Answer: Absolutely, and tax authorities typically encourage you to use these electronic payment methods.

The IRS has a number of options. Its Direct Pay service allows you to schedule payments from your bank account at no cost. You also can pay using a credit card, debit card or digital wallet service such as PayPal, although these methods incur a processing fee. California’s FTB also has electronic options. (Electronic payment options for other states can be found by searching for the state tax agency’s name and the word “payment.”)


  1. Josephine Hill says

    Dear Liz:
    After reading your article on the many risks of paying by check, I see that you recommended making electronic payments instead. However, you did not elaborate on the safety or risks of electronic payments. Are they as risk free as you are implying?

    • Liz Weston says

      Not many things are truly risk free, but I’ll be dealing with the most common risks in an upcoming column. (Spoiler alert: the biggest risk isn’t hackers, but user error.)