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Ask Phil: Mitigating & Removing IRS Penalties & Interest

Today, Optima Tax Relief’s Lead Tax Attorney, Phil Hwang, discusses penalties and interest again, but this time gives tips on how to mitigate and even remove them.  

Penalties and interest can quickly get out of hand. The best way to mitigate them is to pay your tax liability. We understand that this may not be an option for everyone. If you can’t pay your tax bill in full, you can set up an installment agreement with the IRS. This will reduce your penalty from a 0.5% accrual per month to 0.25% per month.  

Removing Penalties and Interest

If you’re looking to remove your penalties and interest, you have some options. The IRS offers penalty abatement for reasonable cause and first-time abatement. To request penalty relief for reasonable cause, you must prove to the IRS that you tried to file or pay but could not. Examples can include fires, natural disasters, inability to obtain records, death, serious illness, system issues, and some others. It does not include a reliance on a tax profession, lack of ignorance, errors, or lack of funds. 

The IRS also offers penalty abatement by administration waiver, more commonly known as first-time abatement. You can request a first time abate if you failed to file, failed to pay, or failed to deposit. To qualify, you must have a good history of tax compliance and did not have any penalties during the prior 3 years, or a penalty was removed for good reason other than a first-time abatement. 

While interest cannot be removed from your account, it can be adjusted if penalties are abated. Only the interest related to the abated penalty will be reduced or removed. 

Don’t miss next week’s episode where Phil will discuss the Employee Retention Credit. See you next Friday!  

If You Need Help Removing Your IRS Penalties, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

Ask Phil: Penalties and Interest

Today, Optima Tax Relief’s Lead Tax Attorney, Phil Hwang, discusses penalties and interest, including the most common penalties and how interest rates are calculated. 

Failure to File Penalties

Owing the IRS is much more than just owing a tax balance. The IRS also charges penalties and interest, the most common penalties being the Failure to File and Failure to Pay. The Failure to File penalty is charged on tax returns filed after the tax deadline or tax extension deadline without a reasonable cause. It accrues at a rate of 4.5% per month, beginning after taxes are due. For example, if you filed for a tax extension, you have until the usual October 15th deadline to file before penalties and interest begin to accrue. In 2023, the deadline is October 16th. If you did not file an extension, the deadline is April 15th  each year before the Failure to File penalty and interest begin to accrue. In 2023, the deadline was April 18th.   

Failure to Pay Penalties

The Failure to Pay penalty, on the other hand, accrues at 0.5% per month for every month or partial month that a tax balance remains unpaid. The day the Failure to Pay penalty begins to accrue is dependent on whether you filed a tax extension. If you file a tax extension, the Failure to Pay penalty will begin to accrue after the October tax deadline. If you do not file an extension, it will begin to accrue after the April tax deadline.  

IRS Interest Rates

The interest rates on these penalties are calculated based on the federal short-term rate, plus an additional 3%. Interest compounds daily until the balance is paid in full. The interest rates for underpayments in the first quarter of 2024 are as follows: 

  • 7% for individual underpayments  
  • 9% for large corporate underpayments 

Interest rates are determined each quarter. You can find the most up to date news on quarterly interest rates on the IRS website. 

Next week, Phil will discuss IRS enforcement. How long does the IRS have to collect back taxes? Can back taxes affect your credit score? Stay tuned for “Ask Phil” next Friday!  

If You Are Being Hit with IRS Penalties and Interest, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation