I recently had my first "Duh" moment of the 2007 filing season. I was at the IRS' online payment portal, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or EFTPS, to make our final 2006 estimated payment that's due today.
If you haven't yet filed your 1040ES, don't panic. You can finish it up today the old-fashioned way and get it
en routeto the IRS with today's postmark. Or you can file your full 2006 return and pay any tax you owe by Jan. 31 and skip this final quarterly filing.
It was the third time I've used EFTPS. My first encounter was last summer, when I made our 2006 second quarter payment. E-payment #3 in September was without incident.
But this time, things didn't go as smoothly.
As I chronicled in EFTPS 'R' Us when I signed up for the system -- and you've got to enroll well in advance of making payments, so if you're considering it for any April money you'll owe, get to work on it now -- access to the system depends on your tax ID number, a PIN number and a password. Since I don't use EFTPS but a few times a year, I pulled out my file with the PIN and password and prepared to pay.
But after entering all those numerals, I got an error message. What I entered wasn't jibing with what the IRS had on file.
Did I change the PIN? No, that number's set by the IRS when you enroll. I did change the initial password the agency assigned, but I was pretty sure that I hadn't modified it since.
What the heck was the problem? I've done this before without incident. I was getting irked.
So when the message popped up that if I'd successfully signed on in the past but was having problems now, dial this 800 number, I picked up the phone and started punching it in. Then the light came on.
I was entering the wrong SSN. Since the hubby and I file a joint return and he's listed first on our forms, it's his tax ID number that is in the EFTPS database. I hung up the phone and tried again using his nine numbers. Voila!
I sent the payment, logged off and thanked the Gods of Embarrassment, who know me all too well, that I was on hold at the IRS help hotline long enough to figure out "my bad" myself.
An EFTPS endorsement: Actually, I must thank blog reader Sara (not her real name) for reminding me that it was time to schedule my quarterly tax payment. She wrote last week to ask how I liked the system.
Unfortunately for Sara, she's having some tax issues precipitated by her ex-spouse. Seems sometimes her installment payments to cover a tax debt are not properly credited by the agency. So, thinking there's got to be a better way, she was exploring the EFTPS option and wondered, "Is there any type of service charge or fee? I don't see that question even addressed under the FAQs."
I'm happy to tell Sara and anyone else interested, no, there is no fee on the IRS side to sign up. The only possible charge might be from your bank/financial institution. But in most cases, they don't charge either for the transfers since electronic transactions make the bank's life easier, too.
The only thing to watch out for is any charges you might face if you don't have enough in the account to cover the tax payment you're making. I always have to do a two-step process: Make sure I start out with enough lead time to move money into checking and then, when I know it's there, follow up with the actual EFTPS payment to the IRS.
But overall, I really like it -- when I enter in the correct log-in info!
I'm hoping Sara will let me know how the system works for her and her installment payments. And if any of you other readers have had an e-pay experience, good or bad, I'd be interested to hear that, too. You can leave comments here at this entry or drop me an e-mail to let me know how it works (or doesn't) for you.