Taxpayers who make an effort to comply with the law, but are unable to meet their tax obligations due to circumstances beyond their control may qualify for relief from penalties.
After receiving a notice stating the IRS assessed a penalty, taxpayers should check that the information in the notice is correct. Those who can resolve an issue in their notice may get relief from certain penalties, which include failing to:
The IRS offers the following types of penalty relief:
This relief is based on all the facts and circumstances in a taxpayer’s situation. The IRS will consider this relief when the taxpayer can show they tried to meet their obligations, but were unable to do so. Situations when this could happen include a house fire, natural disaster and a death in the immediate family.
Administrative Waiver and First Time Penalty Abatement
A taxpayer may qualify for relief from certain penalties if he or she:
Before asking for First Time Abatement relief, taxpayers can request that the IRS first consider the reasonable cause relief provision. This preserves access to the First Time Abatement, which taxpayers may only use every three years.
In certain situations, legislation may provide an exception to a penalty. Taxpayers who received incorrect written advice from the IRS may qualify for a statutory exception.
Taxpayers who received a notice or letter saying the IRS didn’t grant the request for penalty relief may use the Penalty Appeal Online Self-help Tool.
Common Penalties for Individuals
The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
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When a taxpayer changes their name, that change can affect their taxes. All the names on a taxpayer’s tax return must match Social Security Administration records. A name mismatch can delay a tax refund. Here’s what a taxpayer should do if anyone listed on their tax return changed their name:
Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions
The Where's My Refund? tool gives taxpayers access to their tax return and refund status anytime. All they need is internet access and three pieces of information:
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS received their e-filed return, or four weeks after they mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? includes a tracker that displays progress through three stages: the IRS receives the tax return, then approves the refund, and sends the refund.
Where’s My Refund? updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should remember that checking the status more often will not produce new results. Taxpayers on the go can track their return and refund status on their mobile devices using the free IRS2Go app. Those who file an amended return should check out the Where’s My Amended Return? tool.
Generally, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of refunds only if it's been 21 days or more since a taxpayer filed electronically, or more than six weeks since they mailed a paper return. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS if Where's My Refund? directs them to do so.
There is a misconception that a tax transcript can help taxpayers determine the status of their refund. The information included on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. Transcripts are best used to validate past income and tax filing status for loan applications, and to help with tax preparation.
The IRS encourages taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent” on their taxes – those who owe more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest -- to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS. Seriously delinquent taxpayers risk losing their passports or having their passport applications or renewals denied.
The Internal Revenue Service this week released Notice 1036, which updates the income-tax withholding tables for 2018 reflecting changes made by the tax reform legislation enacted last month. This is the first in a series of steps the IRS will take to help improve the accuracy of withholding following major changes made by the new tax law.