Both individuals and businesses have the potential opportunity to deduct expenses from their gross income to lower the amount of money they pay in annual taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The provisions and deduction procedures for individuals and businesses are different so it is important to understand which ones apply. In general, pretty much anything pertaining to a credit card is not tax-deductible as a personal itemized deduction but is tax-deductible for a business.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit card fees are not deductible for individuals and are deductible for businesses.
  • Businesses can deduct all credit card fees as well as finance charges.
  • Businesses are eligible to deduct credit or debit card processing fees associated with paying taxes, but individuals are not.

Are Credit Card Fees Tax Deductible?

The short answer is, it depends. It largely depends on whether any credit card fees are incurred for business purposes or if the card was for personal use. Below are details for each type of situation.

Individual Deductions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law by President Trump in December 2017 with the majority of its clauses taking effect for 2018. The TCJA was the biggest overhaul of the tax rules in 30 years. For individuals, it wiped out many of the miscellaneous itemized deductions taxpayers had used in previous years. Some of the most prevalent changes eliminated expenses taken by individuals for business involvement, such as vehicular costs.

Individuals looking to take advantage of itemized deductions do so on a Schedule A. For Schedule A itemized deductions to be worthwhile, they must exceed the standard deduction given to all taxpayers. Due to the TCJA standard deductions for U.S. taxpayers increased substantially. For 2019, those deductions are:

  • $12,200: single taxpayer
  • $12,200: married taxpayer filing separately
  • $18,350: head of household
  • $24,400: married taxpayer filing jointly
  • $24,400: qualifying widow(er)

With these standard deductions, the need for itemized deductions became obsolete for most taxpayers. Regardless, finance charges and annual fees for credit cards were never eligible for itemized deductions. Prior to 2018, taxpayers could deduct transaction costs for credit and debit card payments made to the IRS. After the TCJA these deductions were also no longer allowed. 

Business Deductions

Tax deductions for businesses are another story. Nearly any business credit card fee or credit card company charge incurred by a business through the use of a credit card has been and still is eligible to be deducted as a business expense.

Depending on the type of business, a company will either file a Schedule C or a Form 1120. Corporations file Form 1120 while all other businesses use the Schedule C.

Allowable deductions for businesses are detailed in IRS Publication 535. Businesses have the opportunity to deduct nearly any expense involved with their business throughout the year when they are determining their bottom line for annual taxes.

When it comes to credit card usage, businesses can deduct: finance charges, annual fees, monthly fees, late fees, and more. The catch is, charges must be associated with the business. For example, this alleviates an annual fee on a personal credit card but could include finance charges on purchases made with the card. Businesses can also deduct any credit or debit card processing expenses involved with paying their taxes.

Moreover, businesses can also deduct the expenses they pay to accept credit cards as a merchant. These fees can be complex. Card network processors may charge merchants a flat fee for the privilege of acceptance. Merchants also pay a card processing transaction fee on each card transaction to the card issuer. These fees and any other incurred by a merchant are reported as business expenses and allowed as tax deductions.