Can You E-File If You Owe Taxes?

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At the end of the year, many taxpayers discover that they owe tax because they did not have enough tax withheld, or, in the case of self-employed persons, failed to make the required estimated tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Fortunately, taxpayers who owe tax have a variety of ways to make payments.


E-file gives taxpayers the convenience of filing online, while also offering an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional paper filing.


With IRS e-file, you can complete and submit your return and pay your tax online. E-file is available from mid-January through October 15. The first day available to e-file for the 2012 tax year is January 22, 2013.


If you owe tax, you can pay it online when you e-file, using the Internal Revenue Service Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you cannot pay the amount in full, you must e-file IRS Form 9465, Request for Installment Agreement, with your return.


If you owe tax for a previous year, you can pay your tax online but you cannot file online. All prior year returns must be mailed to the IRS office that processes returns for your area.


All electronic payments post the next business day, if you make them before 8 p.m. Although EFTPS does not charge a fee, other IRS tax payment services (such as and do charge a convenience fee.


About the Author

Denise Caldwell is a finance writer who has been writing on taxation and finance since 2006. Her articles appear regularly on websites such as and She has taken what she learned while working at the IRS to provide readers with helpful tax and finance tips. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University.

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