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Tax Penalties and Interest
Filing & Owing is Better Than Not Filing & Owing
If you owe taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will calculate penalties and interest on the amount owed. If you have a refund, the IRS may pay you interest on the delayed refund. (Note the difference between "will" and "may" – the IRS generally pays interest on refunds that have been delayed because of slow processing by the IRS. Since most late tax returns take longer to process, the IRS "may" pay you interest on based on the extra amount of time it takes them to process your return.) If you have a refund, there is no penalty for filing late. Penalties are calculated on the amount due. Since there is no amount due, there is no penalty. If you have a balance due on a late tax return, the IRS will calculate additional penalties and interest.
There are two separate penalties:
When it comes to filing a tax return – or not filing one - the IRS can assess a penalty if you fail to file, fail to pay or both. Here are eight important points the IRS wants you to know about the two different penalties you may face if you do not file or pay timely.If you do not file by the deadline, you might face a failure-to-file penalty. If you do not pay by the due date, you could face a failure-to-pay penalty.
The failure-to-file penalty is generally more than the failure-to-pay penalty. So if you cannot pay all the taxes you owe, you should still file your tax return on time and explore other payment options in the meantime. The IRS will work with you.
The penalty for filing late is usually 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a return is late. This penalty will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.
If you do not pay your taxes by the due date, you will generally have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty of ½ of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date that the taxes are not paid. This penalty can be as much as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
If you timely filed a request for an extension of time to file and you paid at least 90 percent of your actual tax liability by the original due date, you will not be faced with a failure-to-pay penalty if the remaining balance is paid by the extended due date.
If both the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty apply in any month, the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the failure-to-pay penalty. However, if you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax.
You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can show that you failed to file or pay on time because of reasonable cause and not because of willful neglect.
The interest rates will be:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points.
Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points.
The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point. Additionally, the rate for determining the addition to tax for failure to pay estimated tax for the first 15 days in April 2011 is the 4 percent rate that applied to underpayments of tax during the first calendar quarter in 2011.
The interest rates announced today are computed from the federal short-term rate during January 2011 to take effect February 1, 2011, based on daily compounding.
Action Plan Items
There's a lesson to be learned by looking at the penalties. If you owe, it is better to file sooner rather than later. Also, if it looks like you are going to be a few months late on your next tax return, file an extension. By filing an extension you may reduce or eliminate the Failure to File Penalty.
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