how far back irs

An IRS Revenue Agent Report (RAR) is a document prepared by a revenue agent, which is a type of IRS employee who is trained to audit tax returns and determine the accuracy of the information provided. 

If you are the subject of an IRS audit and receive an RAR, it is important to carefully analyze the report in order to understand the issues being raised and determine the best course of action.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the process for analyzing an RAR, including reviewing the findings and determining any potential implications for your tax liability. Understanding the content of the RAR and the audit process can help you to effectively respond to the audit and minimize any potential tax liability.

Let’s dive in.

What is an IRS Revenue Agent Report?

The Revenue Agent’s Report is a detailed document describing an IRS examiner’s audit findings. Additionally, the Revenue Agent Report states “the amount of deficiency or refund the agent finds the taxpayer to owe or be owed, respectively.”

Taxpayers have the right to disagree with a revenue agent’s report. If taxpayers disagree, they can challenge the agent’s findings through:

  • A formal protest to the IRS Office of Appeals division by appealing to the U.S. Tax Court, or
  •  Paying the new assessment but then suing for a refund.

If the Revenue Agent Report is unchallenged or upheld, delinquent taxpayers may be subject to increased fines or jail time if they fail to reconcile their tax situation.

Every IRS audit concludes with a Revenue Agent Report which includes all the findings the IRS made based upon the documents and information collected, and the determination IRS has made. 

An IRS audit starts with an initial audit letter sent to the taxpayer (in the case of our clients, the business owner). Then the IRS will send an IDR, also called an Information Document Request with a list of documents and information the IRS needs.In some cases a business owner might receive more than one IDR.

The next step is to provide documents and negotiate, communicate with your revenue agent and comply with additional requests for information. At the end of the audit, you will receive a Revenue Agent Report. 

Sections of the Revenue Agent Report

Let’s review the sections of the Revenue Agent Report, so you understand where the information is and how to read it. 

Adjustments to Income

The first section of the RAR is adjustments to income. This includes anything from income, additional income the IRS found, or even a reduction of income. 

Usually, IRS finds additional income. Additionally, the section will include any other adjustments to expenses and potentially even net operating losses. 

Corrected Tax Liability

The next section of the RAR is the corrected tax liability. shows the correct amount of tax that the IRS believes you owe, based on the audit findings. This may be different from the amount of tax that you originally reported on your tax return. The corrected tax liability is calculated by adding any additional tax that the revenue agent determined you owe, subtracting any overpayments that the agent found, and making any necessary adjustments to your tax return.

The balance at the bottom of the RAR reflects the total amount of tax that you owe, including any interest and penalties that may have been assessed. It is important to carefully review the corrected tax liability and balance sections of the RAR, as they will provide important information about the tax implications of the audit and any action you may need to take.

If you disagree with the corrected tax liability or the balance, you can contest the findings and seek to resolve the matter through the IRS appeals process.

Expenses

After the adjustments to income,  you’ll find expenses. The expenses on your return are negative, they offset income. If IRS disagrees as to an item of an expense, it will be listed as a positive number to offset the negative number. 

Balance

Below the corrected tax liability and credits, the Revenue Agent Report will list the balance at the bottom of the first page. 

This balance does not include penalties and interest. 

Penalties

The top of page two of the Revenue Agent Report lists the penalties that the IRS has assessed based on the audit findings. Penalties may be assessed for a variety of reasons, such as filing a tax return late, making payments late, or failing to keep adequate records.

One type of penalty that may be assessed is the negligence penalty, which occurs if the IRS determines that you kept poor records and did not have sufficient substantiation for your claims. This penalty may be assessed if the IRS determines that you made errors on your tax return due to a lack of attention or care, rather than an intentional effort to evade taxes.

The IRS may also assess a fraud penalty if they believe that you deliberately and willfully failed to file a tax return on time or deliberately understated your income or overstated your expenses in order to evade taxes. Fraud is considered a more serious offense than negligence and may result in more severe penalties. 

It is important to carefully review any penalties listed in the RAR and understand the reasons for their assessment in order to respond appropriately and contest any penalties that you believe are incorrect.

Section 3: Interest and Total Balance

The section on page two of the Revenue Agent Report that lists interest and the total balance is an important part of understanding the tax implications of the audit. Interest is typically assessed from the date that the tax payment was due, which is usually April 15th for individuals and March for corporations.

The RAR may include a broad description of why the full expense was not allowed or why the tax payment was not satisfied. In some cases, the revenue agent may provide more detailed information about the audit findings in the work papers that were used to prepare the RAR. If you want more detail about the audit findings, you can request that the revenue agent provide the work papers to you. These papers may include a factual summary of the information that was exchanged between you and the IRS during the audit process. Having access to this information can be valuable in helping you to understand the audit findings and respond appropriately.

Recommendations

The final section of the Revenue Agent Report is called “Recommendations.” In this section, the revenue agent will list their recommendations for how to resolve the findings. These recommendations are non-binding, but they can be helpful in negotiating with IRS.

Final Thoughts

If you believe that the revenue agent overlooked some facts and you have some substantiation that’s not being considered by the revenue agent, you should consider communicating with the supervisor and try to get the supervisor involved. File a protest letter within the deadline. 

Consider enlisting the help of an experienced tax attorney to navigate the complex situation and efficiently resolve any issues with IRS. 

At Milikowsky Tax Law, we have over a decade of experience working with IRS audits and are experts in defending business owners in the face of IRS or other government agency audits.

Read on to learn how to respond to an IRS audit in 2022.

What happens if you miss a tax deadline? How long does it take before the IRS begins its collection action to collect your tax balance? How many fees will you have to pay?

Understanding and managing the nuances of tax law isn’t easy.

Understanding and managing the nuances of tax law isn’t easy. Whether you have failed to file your tax return on time, could not make a payment on time, or you are were assessed penalties by IRS, the best thing you can do is seek the assistance of skilled tax attorney.

The team at Milikowsky Tax Law has years of experience navigating complicated tax matters. If you have questions and need clear advice from tax attorneys who have business experience, and can provide value to resolve your matter, contact the team at Milikowsky Tax Law and access our expert resources for handling these situations.

What To Do After You Miss a Tax Deadline

When you’re running a business, it can be difficult to keep track of all the things you need to do — and when — to keep your company safe and in good legal standing. If you’ve missed the official deadline to file your taxes, you’ll need to speak to the IRS as quickly as possible. There will be a penalty for filing taxes late, but the sooner you address this issue, the better chance you have to minimize the amount of penalties you may owe and the collection action IRS can take (i.e. levies on bank accounts, liens, etc.).” The penalty for failing to file a timely return is generally higher than the penalty for failing to pay the full taxes owed. Thus, once you discover your tax returns have not been filed, you should act quickly to gather your records and work with your accountant or CPA to have the returns prepared and filed.

If you’ve missed a deadline, you probably have a lot of questions swirling in your head: How late can you file your taxes? What kind of consequences can you expect for being behind? Who should you contact first? Don’t panic.

Consequences of Missing a Tax Deadline

As soon as you realize that you’re late in paying your taxes, it’s important to seek help as quickly as possible. If you can pay the money owed quickly enough, you can reduce a lot of stress in dealing with the IRS. Even if you respond promptly, you should prepare to face a penalty for filing taxes late. This may include meeting with a trusted tax attorney and your own financial advisor to plan for the financial effects. Browse our resources below to help you understand what happens if you miss a tax deadline and how it will impact your finances.

What To Do If You Can’t Pay Your Tax Bill On Time

If you realize you cannot pay your taxes in full, you do have options, such as:

  1. Request an installment agreement with IRS or the California State tax agency;
  2. Contact IRS or the California state tax agency to request an extension to full pay the liability (not through a long-term installment agreement because you only need a couple extra months).

If you are having a financial hardship, you may qualify for an Offer in Compromise (“OIC”), which is a request to IRS to settle your tax liability for a lesser amount based on a “Doubt as to Collectibility” or “Doubt as to Liability.” These issues involve intricate tax laws, legal issues, and a thorough analysis of a person’s finances (including preparing a bank account analysis and financial statement). If your business owes taxes, the company’s legal tax issues and financial analysis must also be thoroughly analyzed. The best thing you can do is speak to an experienced tax attorney and develop a custom strategy for resolving your outstanding balance with the IRS.

What Are Back Taxes?

Back taxes arise when your personal or business taxes are not paid in full by the due date. For income tax, payroll tax, and sales tax, these can be quarterly and yearly. Over time, they accrue interest, and can also come with a host of other penalties to consider. If you’re wondering what the penalty for filing taxes late might be, back taxes are a common consequence.

  • Read our overview of what back taxes are and how they affect your business.
  • Check out our guide on back taxes and learn how our team can help you resolve them.
  • Browse our expertise and insights on outstanding tax balances, what you need to know about them, and how you can seek professional guidance.

Resolving Your Tax Debt

No one wants an ongoing tax debt to worry about when they are trying to run a successful business. There are several ways to resolve your tax debt, from agreeing to pay back a portion of the money owed each month (i.e. an offer in compromise), to requesting an extension of time to pay. Even if you owe the IRS more than you can afford to pay, there are solutions available — such as an offer in compromise. The best decision you can make is to start with an experienced tax attorney who understands your business and can offer clear solutions to resolve your tax issue.

How to prepare an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis

The bank deposit analysis is essential to every single IRS audit. 

An IRS Bank Deposit Analysis is a tool used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help determine whether an individual or business has accurately reported their income on their tax returns. Preparing an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis involves gathering and organizing financial records, including bank statements and other documentation of deposits made into your account(s). 

This process can be time-consuming and may require some effort, but it is important to accurately report your income to the IRS to avoid potential penalties and fines.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the steps involved in preparing an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis and offer some tips for making the process as smooth as possible. Let’s begin with reviewing what an IRS bank deposit analysis includes.

What is an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis?

A bank deposit analysis is where the IRS will analyze all the deposits coming into a bank account that you own, either personal or business, and determine whether those deposits are taxable or non-taxable income. 

It can be difficult to determine the source of cash deposits, as it is not always clear whether the money was received from the sale of a car or from wages earned through work. As a taxpayer or business owner, it is your responsibility to provide documentation to establish the origin of income and determine whether the deposit is considered non-taxable. It is important to accurately report all income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid potential penalties and fines.

How to Start Preparing for an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis

Here are some steps you can follow to prepare an IRS Bank Deposit Analysis:

Gather financial records: Start by gathering all relevant financial records, including bank statements and any other documentation of deposits made into your account(s). This may include pay stubs, invoices, receipts, and other documentation that supports the sources of the deposits.

Organize the records: Next, organize the records in a way that makes it easy to review and analyze the deposits. This may involve sorting the records by account, timeframe, or source.

Calculate the total deposits: Using the financial records, calculate the total amount of deposits made into the account(s) being analyzed.

Identify the sources of the deposits: Determine the sources of the deposits, such as wages, self-employment income, rents, and other sources.

Determine the taxability of the deposits: Review the documentation provided and consider the taxability of the deposits based on the source of the funds and any applicable tax laws.

Prepare the analysis: Using the information gathered, prepare the IRS Bank Deposit Analysis by completing all relevant sections, including a summary of deposits, a breakdown of deposits by source and account, and any supporting documentation.

The IRS Bank Deposit Analysis Process: How It Works

Let’s dive into the key considerations surrounding the IRS Bank Deposit Analysis process. This includes an overview of how the process operates, as well as the types of information that may be requested from taxpayers in the course of the analysis.

Sources of Income

It may be difficult to determine the source and taxability of certain types of income, such as funds transferred from a credit line or money received from escrow. In these cases, it may be necessary to provide additional documentation or seek clarification from the source of the funds to establish the origin of the income and determine its taxability. 

If you receive a check and a copy of it from the IRS, you can use the information on the check to understand where the money is coming from and whether or not it is taxable. It might be helpful to contact the person who wrote the check to confirm the source of the income and why you received it.

Determining Income

The Bank Deposit Analysis is an essential part of every single IRS audit because determining income is essential to every single IRS audit. 

Upon completion of the IRS Bank Deposit Analysis, the IRS will prepare a work paper that compares the total deposits identified in the analysis to the income reported on the individual or business’s tax return. If there is a discrepancy between the two, especially if there is an increase in the total deposits, the IRS may assess additional taxes based on the increase in income. 

This process may be repeated for each year being audited. It is important to accurately report all income on tax returns to avoid potential assessments of additional taxes and penalties.

Additional Years

If IRS selects the first year for audit as a test year and discovers unreported income, it is likely that additional years will also be audited. However, if the amount of unreported income is relatively small or insignificant, IRS may not conclude that the same errors are occurring in other years. It is important to accurately report all income on tax returns to avoid potential assessments of additional taxes and penalties.

Be Careful with Cash

During an IRS audit, it is advisable to devote significant attention to the Bank Deposit Analysis and maintain thorough records, particularly when depositing cash. It can be difficult to trace the source of cash deposits, so it is important to document the origin of the funds through photocopies of checks, contracts, or other relevant documentation. 

Additionally, making a note of the source of cash deposits, such as the sale of a car or the receipt of a contract payment, can help to explain and potentially resolve any issues with the IRS. Accurate record-keeping is crucial in the event of an IRS audit to ensure that all income is accurately reported and to avoid potential assessments of additional taxes and penalties.

Still Have Questions?

Business owners should contact Milikowsky Tax Law if they have any additional questions about how to navigate the IRS audit process.

At Milikowsky Tax Law, we have over a decade of experience working with IRS and tax audits. We’re experts in defending business owners in the face of IRS or other government agency audits.

Interested in learning more? Read on to learn how to respond to an IRS audit.

woman with a lot of paper work

If you recently received a letter from IRS, there are a few important steps you need to take to protect yourself.

The first step is to contact a qualified IRS Tax Lawyer.

While IRS will occasionally audit businesses randomly, they usually audit an individual or business because your tax return contains an error or a transaction that is inconsistent with other businesses in your industry. Our San Diego IRS attorney explains what steps you should take to ensure you are protected.

Once you receive a notice that IRS intends to audit you, here are a few things you need to do:

  • Find Out What Part of Your Tax Return Is Being Audited.
    Many times, IRS will only question certain sections of your tax return, such as how you calculated and reported your gross income. This is especially true of self-employed individuals or business owners who are majority owners.
  • Gather Your Documents To Prove Items on Your Tax Return.
    Once you know the reason that triggered your audit, you need to be able to provide documents to verify your income, expenses, or other transactions reported on your tax return. There are alternative methods to establish your position if you lack direct proof; however, it is important to reach out to your vendors, banks, and other individuals and businesses who have records that are useful in your audit. Banks generally retain your records (i.e. bank statements, canceled checks, etc) for seven years. Businesses that you have done business with generally keep transaction records for 3 years.
  • Don’t Ignore the IRS
    While you may be tempted to ignore the IRS’ attempt to reach out to you, not responding by the specified deadline will make matters worse. If you do not respond to an audit notice, the IRS will eventually close the audit and assess your taxes based on assumptions the Revenue Agent made. IRS can also contact third parties (i.e. your neighbors, business partners, vendors) who have information useful in your audit.
  • Call an Experienced IRS Lawyer
    Having an expert by your side to prepare your legal defense, review your documents for potential issues, and handle all discussions with IRS will take a burden off your shoulders and can improve your chances of a successful audit resolution. Remember, anything you say or communicate to IRS can and will be used against you.

If you face an IRS tax audit alone, you are placing your business and assets at risk. Contact an IRS Tax Attorney today.

The Budget Reconciliation Act will re-fund the IRS with audits making up the lion’s share of the way the IRS intends to make back that investment in the Government Department. With the right financial and legal experts at your side, however, you can successfully navigate this complex process. Once you have received notice of an audit, contact our San Diego IRS attorneys! We can investigate your audit and determine your legal and business options.

Inflation Reduction Act Law. State gets involved to help the population during the economic crisis
In August 2022, Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which allocates nearly $80 billion to the International Revenue Service (IRS) and leaves business owners asking: What are the tax implications of this bill? Will there be more audits? How will audits change? In this article, we’ll break down what the Inflation Reduction Act is, where the money is going, the resulting tax implications, what businesses will be targeted, and how IRS audits will change. Let’s dive in.

What is the Inflation Reduction Act?

The Inflation Reduction Act is a climate, health, and tax package passed by Senate Democrats. The bill passed with all 50 Democratic votes in the Senate.  The final version of the act proposes policy changes such as:
  • Climate and energy provisions
  • Prescription drug price reforms, and
  • Taxes on corporations

Will the Inflation Reduction Act Increase IRS Audits?

The Inflation Reduction Act allocates $79.6 billion to the International Revenue Service over the next decade. These funds will increase IRS audits. Let’s take a look at where exactly the money is going. 

Enforcement: IRS is Hiring

According to the 2021 IRS Data Book, IRS in Fiscal Year 2021 had about 79,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and about 35,000 of them were dedicated to enforcement activity. In 2021, IRS closed about 739,000 tax examinations and processed more than 261 million tax returns and supplemental documents. This number of tax examinations in 2021 was less than half of the number of tax examinations in 2012. So, what does this mean for business owners? IRS is making an effort to conduct more audits than in the past few years and using the additional resources from the Inflation Reduction Act to do so. Let’s take a look at how. With the increased budget resulting from the Inflation Reduction Act, IRS will be expanding its staff. IRS will be hiring additional:
  • Revenue agents (to conduct audits)
  • Criminal Investigators (to carry out criminal investigations), and
  • Revenue officers (to collect taxes)

Operations and Developments

The remaining additional funding will be used for:
  • Technology
  • Development of a direct free E-file system 
  • Operations, and
  • Taxpayer services
According to recent estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, those improvements are projected to bring in $203.7 billion in revenue from 2022 to 2031.

What Sizes of Businesses will be Impacted by the Inflation Reduction Act?

What businesses will be impacted by the Inflation Reduction Act? Let’s discuss.

Large Corporations and the 15% Minimum Corporate Tax

Large corporations with profits over $1 billion will be impacted by the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill imposes a 15% minimum tax on adjusted financial statement income for these corporations. Businesses owned by private equity would be exempt from this tax and the Joint Committee on Taxation projects that the tax would affect approximately 150 corporations. While the current statutory corporate tax rate is 21%, around 200 or more large corporations use tax loopholes to avoid paying that rate and pay below 15%. The bill will target these corporations. This provision would be effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022.

Self-Employed Business Owners Are More Likely to be Audited

Self-employed business owners will be more likely to be audited as a result of this bill. Why? IRS is focused on self-employed people, whose financial situations can become tricky. For example, in these businesses, there are no W-2 jobs with a paycheck; there is just money coming in and going out. This increase in audits means that self-employed people will have to be even more careful in filing the proper forms and providing the correct taxable income.

Why is IRS Making These Changes?

According to Forbes, “the two primary revenue-raising provisions of the bill are a 15% corporate minimum tax and IRS tax enforcement funding, together estimated to raise over $400 billion.” “In total, the bill will raise over $700 billion in revenue over 10 years, including the aforementioned tax changes, as well as taxes and savings from a prescription drug-pricing proposal.”

How Will Audits Change with a Better-funded IRS?

After the Inflation Reduction Act, audits will not only be more common, but also different. Why? The flux of new hires means the audits will be conducted by revenue agents with less experience. For example, according to IRS, a revenue agent “must be trained on the job for at least two to three years to have the experience and expertise to audit a complex return.”

How Can Businesses Prepare for and Navigate These Changes?

You can prepare for an IRS audit by ensuring that you have all of your documentation in order and that you can answer any questions IRS may have. If you are audited, it is important to cooperate with IRS and to provide them with any requested information. If you are self-employed, we encourage you to keep track of income and expenses so you can file a tax return. Consider taking a look at bank and credit card statements for an idea of business expenses. For more, read our ultimate guide to IRS audits.

Hire an Experienced Tax Attorney

In the event of an IRS audit, business owners should consider enlisting the help of an experienced tax attorney. A tax attorney can help to guide you through the process of an IRS audit as well as navigate any issues brought on by a less experienced revenue agent.

Still Have Questions?

Business owners should contact Milikowsky Tax Law if they have any additional questions about how the Inflation Reduction Act will impact them. At Milikowsky Tax Law, we have over a decade of experience working with IRS and tax audits. We’re experts in defending business owners in the face of IRS or other government agency audits. Interested in learning more? Read on to learn how to respond to an IRS audit in 2022.
SBA PPP Loan Paperwork

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has forgiven over 98% of the total Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan value that borrowers requested them to forgive; recently, however, SBA has begun to issue more forgiveness PPP loan forgiveness denials.

Many of these recent denials issued by the SBA are not consistent with their own guidelines. Borrowers have received denial letters based on:

  •  Insufficient communication between SBA and lenders
  •  Misapplication of SBA’s Interim Final Rules (IFRs) or affiliation rules
  •  Mistakes by SBA surrounding the loss or misuse of borrower information

Borrowers should be aware that such denials are appealable. Consider challenging forgiveness denials if you believe SBA’s decision is in error.

Read our full guide to SBA’s PPP loan forgiveness denial below to learn more about how to appeal a denial, the criteria required for an appeal, and who can represent your company in the process. 

How Do I Know if My Business’ PPP Loan Forgiveness was Denied?

If SBA denied your application, you will receive an SBA Final Decision Letter in the mail. 

Learn more about what to do if your PPP loan is not forgiven, here.

How Do I Know Why My Business’ Forgiveness Application was Denied?

The first page of the Final Decision letter contains a section indented and in bold that provides the reasons SBA denied your request for forgiveness. It’s important to understand why SBA is rejecting the forgiveness application before taking action- such as appealing the denial.

Who Makes the Decision on PPP Forgiveness?

The decision to deny your PPP loan forgiveness can be made by:

  • Your lender (i.e. bank, credit union)
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA)

How Much Time Do I Have to Appeal a PPP Loan Forgiveness Denial?

You must respond to SBA and submit your appeal within 30 days of the date listed on your SBA Final Decision Letter.  The timeline for SBA forgiveness appeals is inflexible. Once your initial 30-day period expires, you will lose your right to appeal SBA’s denial to forgive your PPP loan.

How Do I Appeal a PPP Loan Forgiveness Denial?

You must appeal denials of forgiveness to the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) within the 30-day period. 

File appeals through OHA’s case portal. Filings for PPP appeals received in any other manner may be rejected and not docketed for processing.

SBA states that OHA has jurisdiction over appeals where SBA has provided the borrower with a PPP final loan review decision finding the borrower:

  • Is ineligible for a PPP loan
  • Is ineligible for the PPP loan amount received
  • Used the loan proceeds for unauthorized uses
  • Is ineligible for the PPP loan forgiveness amount determined by the lender in its full or partial approval decision issued to SBA, or
  • Is ineligible for PPP loan forgiveness when the lender has issued a full denial decision to SBA.

Learn more about how to appeal an SBA PPP forgiveness denial, here. 

What Information Do I Need to Provide in the Appeal?

The criteria for an appeal filed with the SBA are strict. According to SBA, appeals must contain:

  • A complete, detailed statement as to why the SBA loan review decision is erroneous, with accurate information and legal arguments supporting the statement;
  • No more than 20 pages (not including attachments)
  • Clearly labeled exhibits and attachments

Due to the strict criteria of the appeal, we recommend hiring a qualified attorney to represent your business and help you to create a strong, successful appeal. 

Who Can Represent My Business in the Appeal Process?

An identified legal representative of the business or a qualified attorney must represent the appeal since the SBA PPP loan is a business loan and not a personal loan. To represent your business, one must be:

  • A shareholder owner 
  • An officer, or
  • An attorney

Who Can’t Represent My Business in the SBA Appeal Process?

The following positions are not legally entitled or allowed to represent businesses in the SBA appeal process:

  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
  • Lenders 
  • General Employees

What if I Lose My Appeal?

Any appeal denied in the Office of Hearings and Appeals will have to go to a higher court. Why? Because SBA is a federal agency. The process of going to federal court can be extremely tedious and expensive due to the strict regulations. 

To avoid the costly and time-consuming process of going to the federal district court, we recommend hiring a qualified attorney to make sure you’re building a strong appeal for your business.

While each case is unique and this is not an indication of success in other cases nor a promise of results, our team at Milikowsky Tax Law has extensive experience in government audits and cases involving government entities from IRS to SBA and CSLB.  

Contact Milikowsky Tax Law and learn how we can help.

How to Abate an IRS penalty

There are a lot of different types of penalties IRS can assess. Let’s start with the failure to file. 

Typically, it’s a firm deadline and when you have to file a return. If you don’t file an extension and your return is late, or you do file the extension and your return is late, you’ll get a notice from the IRS that you have a late return. Even if you have a good excuse you will have to substantiate it with documents and evidence of reasonable cause.   

Some examples of excuses that don’t work on the IRS:

Saying your CPA promised to file the return on time and they missed the deadline. Simply indicating to the IRS that you had a CPA that missed a deadline is not enough, because IRS feels that it is your responsibility, not the CPA’s to know when to file the return.  If it’s something more of a technical nature and you file the return with an error on it, and it’s really more of a legal question or super technical tax question, if you get a penalty for that for misreporting something, you might be able to argue reasonable cause because you relied upon a tax professional. Get a letter from your CPA, tax attorney, or whoever gave you the advice in question, and IRS will then consider that and potentially, abate the penalty  

What does it mean to abate a penalty? 

Removing the penalty in the terminology of the IRS is abating the penalty. When requesting penalty relief, that is what you want to ask for, “penalty abatement”.  Missing a filing deadline is very difficult. We had a client for whom we were able to get an abatement fro for a missed deadline, but you really have to show that even though you took all reasonable measures and acted like a prudent person, you still couldn’t meet the deadline.  There have been cases of people that have been incarcerated, out of the country, and a number of other excuses that do not qualify. Because you can always file a tax return with the US Embassy in a foreign country.   

Carefully consider what the facts are and respond to the notice even if you don’t have a good reason for your missed deadline. 

  Always be truthful, gather your evidence, provide your documents. Third-party records are better if somebody can substantiate,your evidence with a declaration or a note from that person.  Be sure to respond within the correct timeframe. In the notice, it’ll indicate how much time you have to respond. It’s typically 30 days, but it could be as short as 15 days or even less. Different penalty notices have different deadlines. Make sure you don’t miss that deadline on top of the missed deadline for which you have been assessed a penalty.   

Asking for more time from IRS 

If you got the letter or notice late, or you just are unable to gather the evidence in time but you really do want to respond, you can write a letter to the IRS requesting an extension to respond to the penalty notice. The extension is not guaranteed, IRS can still deny your request and assess the penalty. But if you are in a bind, and you want more time, it can’t hurt to request additional time. Typically they will grant you an extension.   

Keep supporting evidence of correspondence

Post-COVID, IRS is so far behind on mail that they might actually generate a notice indicating you didn’t respond to the penalty letter and assess it to you, even though you did send a letter before the deadline. So be cognizant of that and register the mail you send, take a time-stamped picture of the correspondence or find a fax number. Faxing to the IRS is the quickest way for them to get the notice (don’t forget to keep your fax confirmation). Whether you respond to the penalty notice or you ask for additional time, send a certified US mail with a return receipt as well as a fax. And if you don’t have a fax number on the notice, you can contact IRS directly and ask them if there’s a fax number for the department that generated the notice.