The pandemic years were not easy for anyone and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is waiving penalties for some of those who did not pay their back taxes during the years 2020 and 2021.
During the pandemic, the IRS was tasked with administering COVID-era economic programs distributing economic impact payments, and other duties beyond its usual mandate. By February 2022, the IRS was logistically overwhelmed and suspended mailing follow-up notices of taxes due to consumers. Despite the stoppage of notices, the penalties on these back taxes continued to accrue—along with interest.
As anyone who reads in this space knows, the penalties and interest that accrue on taxes owed can be as fearsome as tax debt itself. This month, the IRS will begin sending out those long overdue notices that will reflect the amount waived, what is owed, and how it can be paid.
Notes IRS Commission Danny Werfel, “As the IRS has been preparing to return to normal collection mailings, we have been concerned about taxpayers who haven't heard from us in a while suddenly getting a larger tax bill. The IRS should be looking out for taxpayers, and this penalty relief is a common-sense approach to help people in this situation.”
Relief will take the form of a waiver of penalties on taxes that were due in 2020 and 2021. Eligibility includes the following:
- Those with assessed income tax for years 2020 and 2021 which was less than $100,000 as of December 7, 2023 (not including added tax, penalties, or interest).
- Taxpayers who received the first notice of taxes due for tax years 2020 and 2021 on or before December 7, 2023.
- Taxpayers who had tax debt during the relief period and are eligible for failure to pay penalties for tax years 2020 and 2021.
- If eligible, taxpayers do not need to apply for the relief, it is automatic. The IRS will issue a refund for penalties from this time frame that were paid in full by taxpayers.
- The failure to pay penalty on overdue taxes will resume on April 1, 2024.
- While the IRS is waiving penalties on overdue taxes during the specified time period, it is not waiving interest on amounts that were due at the time.
Estimated to assist approximately five million taxpayers, IRS Chief Werfel says "The IRS wants to help taxpayers and provide them easy options to deal with unpaid tax bills and avoid additional interest and penalties." The IRS rarely waives penalties for any reason. If you are eligible, watch for your letter in the mail.
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