Check out this Special Alert regarding Collection Efforts and Limited Penalty Relief!
Penalty relief for tax years 2020 and 2021
The IRS has announced penalty relief for approximately 4.7 million individuals, businesses and tax-exempt organizations that were not sent automated collection reminder notices during the pandemic. The IRS will be providing about $1 billion in penalty relief. Most of those receiving the penalty relief make under $400,000 a year.
In February 2022, the IRS suspended the mailing of automated reminders to pay overdue tax bills, but the failure-to-pay penalty continued to accrue for taxpayers who did not fully pay their bills in response to the initial balance due notice.
To help taxpayers as the normal processes resume, the IRS will be issuing a special reminder letter starting next month. The letter will alert the taxpayer of their liability, easy ways to pay and the amount of penalty relief, if applied. The IRS urges taxpayers who are unable to pay their full balance due to visit IRS.gov/payments to make arrangements to resolve their bill.
The IRS is also taking steps to waive the failure-to-pay penalties for eligible taxpayers affected by this situation for tax years 2020 and 2021.
As a first step, the IRS has adjusted eligible individual accounts and will follow with adjustments to business accounts in late December to early January, and then trusts, estates and tax-exempt organizations in late February to early March 2024. Nearly 70 percent of the individual taxpayers receiving penalty relief have income under $100,000 per year.
The IRS is releasing Notice 2024-7, which explains how the agency is providing failure-to-pay penalty relief to eligible taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them meet their federal tax obligations.
This penalty relief is automatic. Eligible taxpayers who already paid their full balance will benefit from the relief, too; if a taxpayer already paid failure-to-pay penalties related to their 2020 and 2021 tax years, the IRS will issue a refund or credit the payment toward another outstanding tax liability.
The penalty relief only applies to eligible taxpayers with assessed tax under $100,000. Eligible taxpayers include individuals, businesses, trusts, estates and tax-exempt organizations. The IRS notes the $100,000 limit applies separately to each return and each entity. The failure-to-pay penalty will resume on April 1, 2024, for taxpayers eligible for relief.
Taxpayers who are not eligible for this automatic relief also have options. They may use existing penalty relief procedures, such as applying for relief under the reasonable cause criteria or the First-Time Abate program. Visit IRS.gov/penaltyrelief for details.
If the automatic relief results in a refund or credit, individual and business taxpayers will be able to see it by viewing their tax transcript. The IRS will send the first round of refunds starting now through January 2024. If a taxpayer does not receive a refund, a special reminder notice may be sent with their updated balance beginning in early 2024. Taxpayers with questions on penalty relief can contact the IRS after March 31, 2024.
Resumption of collection notices begins in 2024
In January, the IRS will begin sending automated collection notices and letters to individuals with tax debts prior to tax year 2022, and businesses, tax exempt organizations, trusts and estates with tax debts prior to 2023, with exceptions for those with existing debt in multiple years. These notices and letters were previously paused due to the pandemic and high inventories at the IRS but will gradually resume during the next several months. Current tax year 2022 individual and third quarter 2023 business taxpayers began receiving automated collection notices this fall as the IRS took steps to return to business as usual.
The pause in collection mailings affected only follow-up reminder mailings. The IRS did not suspend the mailing of the first, or initial, balance due notices for taxpayers such as the CP14 and CP161 notices.
The pause meant that some taxpayers who have long-standing tax debt have not received a formal letter or notice from the IRS in more than a year while some of this older collection work has been paused. To help the taxpayers in this category as the normal processes resume, the IRS will be issuing a special reminder letter to them starting next month.
This reminder letter will alert the taxpayer of the liability and will direct them to contact the IRS or make alternative arrangements to resolve the bill. Tax professionals and taxpayers will see these reminder letters in the form of letter LT38, Reminder, Notice Resumption.
This letter will remind taxpayers about their tax liability, allowing them to address the tax issue before the next round of letters are issued. After receiving the reminder mailing, these taxpayers with long-standing unresolved tax issues will receive the next notice, informing them of a more serious step in the tax collection process.
The IRS will issue these balance due notices and letters in gradual stages next year to ensure taxpayers who have questions or need help are able to reach an IRS assistor. This will also provide additional time for tax professionals to assist taxpayers.