Consumer Payment Card News

IRS Card Bennies

Is charging U.S. personal taxes with a bank credit card a worthwhile proposition? According to a recent survey by Roper Starch more than three quarters of consumers surveyed say they would rather pay taxes by check than cash or credit card. However this month’s issue of CardTrak cites specific examples of how the advantages of charging federal personal income taxes via bank credit cards can be very rewarding. For example, CardTrak cites the example of a United Airlines ‘Mileage Plus MasterCard’ cardholder who recently charged a $5,000 tax bill. The cardholder, who paid a $125 service charge for the transaction, earned 5,000 United Airlines air miles for the transaction. While the nominal value for most airline miles is two cents per mile, under certain scenarios the miles can be worth far more. The cardholder cited in the above example, booked a round-trip ‘Business Class’ seat for late March for $882 and 20,000 United Airline miles. The normal cost of a United Airlines ‘Business Class’ round-trip seat to London is $5,300. Since the cardholder is a frequent flyer, at the United Airlines ‘Premier Executive’ level, earning double miles, the March trip to London will earn the cardholder approx. 15,000 UA miles. The net result is the consumer’s $5,000 credit card/income tax transaction was worth a net gain of $4,293 ($5300 ticket value minus $882 cash and minus an $125 fee for the income tax transaction.) According to the Wall Street Journal, some cardholders have inquired as to charging as much as $1 million to $4 million worth of taxes this year. A transaction of this size could have a net value of more than $300,000 according to CardTrak. For example, someone charging $4 million of taxes could earn enough air miles to take eleven friends/relatives around-the-world, first class.

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