A little change could save an IRS notice later.
Today I was setting up an EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) payment and there was a special notice on the landing page. Beginning November 15, 2012, the EFTPS will no longer set default dates when a taxpayer schedules a payment.
EFTPS is an online payment center which allows taxpayers to schedule tax payments for their business or themselves and have the money debited from their account on the desired date. For example, a taxpayer who needs to make quarterly estimates to prepay their Federal tax can set up all four payments at one time to be withdrawn on that quarter’s due date. Besides the convenience of setting payments in advance, EFTPS gives you an instant acknowledgement that the payment has been accepted and provides a history of the payments made. I don’t know how many times the history has helped me help a client.
When I set up the payment today, the screen was set to the direct the payment into the current tax period. Right now that is December 2012. If I had been scheduling a payment for another time period, I would have to override the date. The same thing happens when I set a payment date. The system defaults to the next business day. If I want to schedule the payment for a different date, the onscreen date needs to be overridden.
Taxpayers have told the IRS that that can be confusing. I can see their point. It’s easy to confuse dates especially when the quarter has just changed or you need to make a payment for a past quarter or year. It’s easy to accept the default without understanding that it’s not correct for the payment you are setting up. I’m sure there will be some who won’t like the change but I’d rather have to set the tax period or date than to deal with cleaning up a mistake later.
Besides the changes to set the payment date and payment period, EFTPS will be adding a calendar feature to the payment history to help taxpayers target the date range they are searching for.