Good Question: Why is there a 3% fee for using a credit card to pay taxes in Monroe County?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Why is it more expensive to pay taxes with a credit card?

Recently, we answered a Good Question about New York State’s rules for credit card surcharges during business transactions. One of you wanted to know if those rules apply to paying taxes as well.

In January, we told you that the New York State Senate decided businesses can’t advertise a cash price and then tell customers “that the credit price is the cash price, plus an additional percentage; for example, adding a 3% charge for a credit transaction. Per the court, customers must not be expected to do the math to figure out the total price that they will be paying.”

A viewer named Bill wants to know: “If this is the case then why does Monroe County charge a 3% fee to pay taxes with a credit card?”

A spokesperson for Monroe County tells me that the county “does not charge the fee, we only get the exact amount of the tax owed. The 3% charge is imposed by the county’s contractor for online payments, Hamer Enterprises, not Monroe County. Most people pay their county taxes to their town or village offices. They too have a fee for credit transactions, as does the city of Rochester.”

In some towns, you can pay in-person with a card at the town clerk’s office but you will likely be looking at a similar fee.

Long story short, it is a convenience fee imposed by a third party – not imposed by the “vendor,” which in this case would be Monroe County and it is common.

The county does have payment plans available, ACH which stands for automated clearing house, and EFT, electronic funds transfer, at no cost to the taxpayer.

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