Category Archives: Penalties

Do You Owe Taxes to the IRS? Can You Afford the Tax Penalty?

Did you just learn that you owe taxes to the IRS this year? Can you afford the tax penalty on the money you owe to the IRS?

Nothing can be more stressful than finding out you owe the IRS when calculating your taxes, especially when you already are struggling financially. The issue of course, is even though you can’t pay the tax, you still must file your tax return by the deadline. And, if you owe money, and you don’t have it, you will face a tax penalty. More people hate tax time because of this! Continue reading

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Wrong Tax Forms Issued – Massachusetts Retirees

Wrong Tax Forms were issued on January 21, 2016 to over 50,000 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Retirees.

What happens if I file with the wrong tax forms?

About 50,000 Commonwealth of Masachusetts retirees received the wrong tax forms. An uncorrected 1099-R form would mean possible over payment of federal income taxes for retirees. Fortunately some State retirees called the office after they noticed the wrong tax forms, as tax bills were much higher than 2014. Normally, retirees who would receive refunds might have had to owe money.

The misprinted forms, because of a programming error, had bad codes assigned. The correct code should have been 7, for normal distribution of benefits. Instead, Code 1 was printed. Code 1 means a premature distribution of benefits. What would this cost the retiree? A 10 % penalty. In addition, State Retirees who should have been assigned Code 2, for early distribution of benefits with exceptions, received forms erroneously marked as Code 7. You can read more about it here on the Massachusetts government website.

Fortunately, this was caught fairly early. The issue can be resolved with the IRS should retirees file the wrong tax forms. However, it can take two years.

When Can I file my paper tax returns?

The State Treasurer’s office recommends that you wait for the revised 1099-R form to come in the mail if you file with a paper tax return. First, make sure the box at the top of the 1099-R marked “Corrected” is checked off.

2015_1099-R, corrected tax form, wrong tax forms

A corrected 1099-R form will be mailed out in early February. The board is sending postcards to make sure the 50,000 Commonwealth retirees are notified of this error. You should receive a revised 1099-R statement by Tuesday, February 16th, 2016. If not, please call the Massachusetts State Retirement Board (the number is at the end of this blog).

How Do I File Electronically?

State retirees who file electronically, can go ahead and file, just use the correct codes. If you are a retired employee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, up to the age of 59-1/2 in 2015, you can enter Distribution Code 2 on the electronic form. Use Distribution Code 7 if you turned older than 59-1/2 in 2015. If you have any questions, you can contact the State Treasurer’s office by email at srb@tre.state.ma.us or by telephone at (800) 392-6014 or (617) 367-7770. By the way, be easy on them. Make sure that you notify the Massachusetts State Retirement Board of any change of address. The change of address form can be found here.

You can access information on how to read your 1099-R form here. Make sure the new one you receive has “Corrected” checked off on the top.

Alex Franch, BS EA  at  781.849.7200. He can answer any questions you may have regarding tax preparation and the filing of your returns. We have ultra-convenient service at any three of our locations where you can conveniently drop off your tax documentation to be prepared, Dedham, Quincy and South Weymouth. Worthtax uses a triple check accuracy system.

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2016 Insurance Subsidy: Did you file your 2014 Tax Return?

money in hand, obamacare, insurance subsidy, acaDo not lose your insurance subsidy in 2016 just because you have not filed your 2014 tax return! If you are one of the over 1 million individuals who received an Obamacare health insurance premium subsidy last year and you have yet to file your 2014 tax return, you are risking your opportunity to receive the insurance subsidy in 2016.

Insurance Subsidy and the Preliminary Tax Credit

The insurance subsidy is paid by the government to your insurer to reduce the premiums you owe. It is actually an advance payment of the premium tax credit (PTC) based upon your “estimated” income for the year. Your actual PTC is based on your “actual” income as determined on your tax return. If the advance PTC (subsidy) was less than the actual PTC as determined on your tax return, you are entitled to the difference. On the other hand, if your actual PTC is less than the advance amount, you may owe Uncle Sam some or all of the difference.

Whether you are entitled to additional PTC or owe some back cannot be determined without filing your return. The IRS estimates that 710,000 individuals who received an advance PTC have yet to file a 2014 return or did not file an extension. Add that to the approximately 360,000 taxpayers who received an advance PTC and have filed an extension, and there are over 1 million individuals who need to reconcile their 2014 PTC who have not yet filed.

The Marketplace will determine eligibility for advance PTC for the 2016 coverage year during the fall of 2015. If you have not filed your 2014 return yet, you can substantially increase your chances of avoiding a gap in receiving this help if you file your 2014 tax return as soon as possible. This is true even if you have an extension until October 15th.

Obamacare Forms are not Easy

Navigating the complicated Obamacare forms developed by the IRS is difficult for many taxpayers. Most taxpayers seek professional assistance, and they should because accuracy is key. The IRS is currently sending letters to individuals who received advance PTC subsidies and have yet to file. The letter encourages taxpayers to file within 30 days of the date of the letter. This is to avoid a gap in receiving advance payments of the PTC in 2016.

It is Never a Good Ideal Not to File

Always file your returns, even if you owe and cannot pay. The IRS just gets more aggressive as time goes on. So whether you:

  1. Do not feel you can do your own return
  2. Are afraid you may owe some of the PTC back, or
  3. Think you may be subject to penalties for failing to have health insurance coverage

We encourage you to give Alex Franch, BS EA a call at 781-849-7200. There are penalty exceptions for being uninsured. If you owe a Premium Tax Credit repayment there is a possibility it can be reduced, and it may all work out in the end. Procrastinating is not going to change the outcome, but it could put your 2016 advance Premium Tax Credit at risk. Who knows, you may even be entitled to more PTC and a refund.

You can read more about the Premium Tax Credit here.

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Tax Penalties, Outrage and Indignation

By: Alex Franch, BS EA

If you ever filed and paid your taxes late, you may have first-hand experience with tax penalties. Sometimes this results in a little bit of interest being charged but other times it can lead to substantial dollar amounts. The IRS and Mass DOR each have their own tax penalties. Here are a few amounts:

Failure to Pay a Tax When Due

You may be subject to a maximum penalty of 25% of the tax due.  Mass DOR and the IRS both can assess a version of this penalty. This sounds like a lot, but they typically do not go from zero to sixty on this one.  Still, 25% is a hefty amount.

Failure to File a Partnership Return

Massachusetts can charge $5 for every day the partnership fails to file. Partnerships typically do not pay tax since the income passes through to the owners. This is so they cannot charge a percentage of tax owed. Nevertheless, $5 per day can add up quickly. This pales in comparison to the IRS penalty of $195 per partner, per month. This can get out of control very quickly. The good news is that the IRS penalty is capped at 12 months. Eventually however, after several years and depending on the number of partners, the Massachusetts $5/day penalty might catch up to the IRS penalty.

Failure to Satisfy a Required Minimum Distribution

The IRS is great for tax deferred growth but eventually the money has to come out.  Taxpayers are required to begin taking distributions by April 1st in the year following the year in which they turn 70-½.  If you forget – bam, 50% penalty on the required distribution.  Take that, grandma.  Outrage and Indignation to follow.

Failure to Report a Foreign Account

FCEU Tax PenaltiesAmong other tax penalties is failing to report a foreign financial account can get you in hot water with the IRS. Previously, one would file Form TDF 90-22.1 with the Department of Treasury. This was updated recently to FinCEN Form 114 and gets filed electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).  They threshold for filing is $10,000 at any point during the year.  The penalty for non-willful violations is $10,000.  The penalty for willful cases is the greater of 50% of the account balance or $100,000 with the possibility of criminal prosecution.  Ouch is an understatement to say the least.

Are you looking to avoid tax penalties?

As mentioned, tax penalties can cost you a lot of money. And we believe, better money in your pocket than someone else’s pocket. The best way to avoid tax penalties is to have a trusted professional. Are you are at a place in your business you need tax advice? Do you have thoughts, questions or concerns regarding how to claim the start-up costs for your small business? Please feel free to contact us, leave your comments below or post on our FacebookGoogle+ or LinkedIn pages.

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Tax Season is Here!

Time flies – before it slips away, call Alex Franch, EA at 781-849-7200 for your appointment and learn about our client discounts here.

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Beware of Trust Fund Recovery Penalties

The term “trust fund recovery penalties” refers to a tax penalties assessed against the directors or officers of a business entity that failed to pay a required tax on behalf of its employees. For example, employers withhold income taxes and FICA payroll taxes from employees’ wages. These funds actually belong to the government. They aree referred to as “trust funds.” They cannot be used by the employer to pay other business expenses.

Tax law provides that employers are personally responsible for remitting the trust funds to the government. If the employer is a business entity such as a corporation or a limited liability company, then any person who was “required to collect, truthfully account for, and pay over” the funds is liable “for a penalty equal to the total amount of tax” that went unpaid. Once assessed, these “trust fund penalties” cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and the employer or responsible person(s) will be liable for them even if the business entity itself is liquidated. Other civil penalties, as well as criminal penalties, could also apply.

Trust fund recovery penalties (the amount of the tax that was collected and not paid) can be imposed on any person who:

(1) Is responsible for collecting, accounting for, and paying over payroll taxes; and

(2) Willfully fails to perform this responsibility. Willfulness involves a voluntary, conscious and intentional act to prefer other creditors over the U.S. Thus, if a responsible person knows that withholding taxes are delinquent and uses corporate funds to pay other expenses, such failure to pay withholding taxes is deemed “willful.”

In determining whether an individual is a responsible person, courts consider various factors, including whether the individual:

  1. Holds corporate office;
  2. Has check-signing authority;
  3. Can hire and fire employees;
  4. Manages the day-to-day operations of the business;
  5. Prepares payroll tax returns;
  6. Signs financing contracts; and
  7. Determines financial policy.

If you can be judged to be a responsible person, make sure the trust fund payments are made before any other expenses are paid, even if encouraged not to do so by someone else of authority within the company.

Otherwise you may be held responsible for the unpaid funds, and the liability could follow you to your grave. If you have questions about the trust fund rules and potential trust fund penalties, please give this office a call at 781-849-7200.

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