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Getting Mileage Out of Card Payments to IRS

April 09, 1999| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Would an all-expense-paid ski trip to the Canadian Rockies ease the pain of that income tax bill? How about a few free flights to Paris or Rome?

Dozens of wealthy taxpayers are using their credit cards to charge hefty Internal Revenue Service bills--several over $1 million--so they can rack up airline frequent-flier miles and other rewards.

"The biggest surprise we've had in the program is the people who want to pay more than $100,000," said Steve Johnson, senior vice president at U.S. Audiotex, a California company running the credit card program for IRS. "They want the miles."

For the first time this year, people can call an Audiotex toll-free number--(888) 2PAYTAX--to pay their tax bills using their American Express, MasterCard or Discover card. Visa, the largest credit card issuer, is taking a wait-and-see approach this year.

Through April 2, IRS had received 5,400 credit card payments averaging $1,445.

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