It’s official! Starting this Friday, U.S. taxpayers will be able to charge their federal income tax payments for the 1999 tax year via MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards. VISA is not participating in the program. The credit card option is the result of an agreement between the IRS and Official Payments Corp., formerly known as U.S. Audiotex. This will be the first full year of the credit card payment program. During the 1998 tax season, the IRS and Official Payments conducted a pilot program in which 44,840 tax transactions were processed, representing a total of $174 million in payments. This year the IRS has included the Official Payment’s toll free number in 140 million 1040 Form instructions. In addition to balance due payments, the Official Payments service can be used by taxpayers filing for a 1999 tax year extension and also for estimated tax payments for tax year 2000. Official Payments Corp. charges consumers a convenience fee of approximately 2.5% to process personal tax payments. For example, a taxpayer who owed the government $999 and charged their taxes would find a total of $1,024 on their credit card statement ($999 for the tax bill and $25 for the convenience fee). Official Payments has also partnered with several state governments and 450+ municipal and county entities, in which it collects property taxes, real estate taxes, parking fines and other government fees by credit card over the telephone and the Internet. To pay your taxes with a credit card call 1-888-2PAY-TAX. The complete fee schedule can also be found at the Official Payments Corp. Web site at www.officialpayments.com.