Put away your plastic at tax time

Published: Apr. 10, 2012 at 9:24 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It may be tempting this year to slip Uncle Sam a credit card.

Last year, consumers really started using them heavily again, incurring nearly $48 billion in new credit card debt.

But regular APRs for most cards are higher now than in 2011.

"Do not take on debt just to pay your taxes if you can avoid it," says John Brumbaugh of ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions.

He says there are multiple reasons to put your plastic away at tax time. First of all, the government will charge you what it calls a convenience fee.

"It's a flat fee with a debit card," says Brumbaugh. "But it's a percentage of your total tax bill with your credit card."

Believe it or not, your credit card company could charge you as well - and we're not just talking about interest.

Brumbaugh says tougher rules mean creditors see it as a weakness if you can't pay off an annual, expected fee like your taxes. "And as a result, they might raise your interest rate or they might lower your credit limits," he says.

So what if you simply can't come up with the cash by next week?

"Set up a payment plan with the IRS," says Brumbaugh. "Chances are the interest rate for that is going to be lower than any credit card you might use to pay those taxes."