Failure to File and Failure to Pay: Are You Headed for T-R-O-U-B-L-E?

The old saying goes, “There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.” Have you ever wondered what would happen if you filed your tax return late or worse, did not file at all? Well, you are looking for trouble if you do not file your tax return.

If you do not file an income tax return, the IRS will gather all the transmitted tax documents and create a “substitute return” for you. If they show you are due a refund, nothing further will be done. Surprised? If they show you owe money, they will begin sending you collection letters.

And, if that is not bad enough, there will be a penalty for not filing your return equaling five percent per month up to 25 percent of the tax due. Then, there is another penalty of .5 percent per month up to 25 percent of the tax due for failure to pay the tax. An example is if you owe $1000, it will cost you $250 penalty for not filing, but only a $5 penalty for not paying. And then, don’t forget they tack on interest to that number!

If you qualify for a refund and wait more than three years to file your return, the IRS will take that refund away, because the statute of limitations expires. Don’t expect them to send you a reminder letter!

In addition to the penalties you are charged for not filing your return, you also increase your chances of being audited. For example, if you file on time, you have a 3 percent chance of an audit. If you don’t file on time, your chance of being audited increases to 50 percent…Yikes!

There have been many high profile cases about celebrities not filing or paying their taxes. Here is a short list of people that owe or have owed the IRS:

  • Toni Braxton = $400,000
  • Val Kilmer = $500,000 and has a lien on his New Mexico property
  • Pamela Anderson = $700,000
  • Wesley Snipes = $2.7 million and jail time
  • Marc Anthony = $3.4 million
  • Nicholas Cage = $14 million

Here is an example of how the IRS will handle situations.  David Pushman was a limo driver.  He failed to file two tax returns.  He said he had reasonable cause which was that he had a heart condition, ADD, decreased earnings, no money to pay the taxes and his friend discarded his records.  The court determined that he demonstrated willful neglect and denied his “reasonable cause.”

The general rule is to file on time (it’s okay to file up to the extension deadline) since the consequences are harsher for not filing than not paying the tax due. However, be proactive to pay any tax due by the deadline, not the extension deadline.

Be aware of the new filing deadlines:

  • For individuals, file by April 15th or October 15th with the approved extension.
  • For C corporations, file by April 15th or September 15th with the approved extension
  • For S corporations, file by March 15th or September 15th with the approved extension
  • For partnerships, file by March 15th or September 15th with the approved extension

Don’t put yourself in a position of grief. Even if you are not ready to file, file something and you can amend the return later. As always, reach out if we can help.

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