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Penalties for willful tax violations can be steep

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2019 | IRS Issues

The IRS does make a distinction between tax errors that were willful and not willful in nature. Generally speaking, taxpayers in Georgia and elsewhere will escape harsh punishment for errors deemed to be not willful. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid penalties altogether for an honest mistake. However, if the government believes that a person engaged in willful tax evasion, the penalties can be steep. For example, failing to report an offshore account could result in a fine of $100,000.

Failing to withhold payroll taxes is another mistake that an individual or corporate entity will want to avoid. The government considers the act to be willful if an individual or other responsible party should have known it was against the law. Furthermore, the IRS can collect those taxes from anyone who is responsible for signing a paycheck or has a senior role within the organization.

Regardless of why a taxpayer has been cited for making an error on a tax return, that person will have a chance to explain his or her position. It may be possible to convince an IRS agent that an error was not willful and that a lighter penalty should be enforced. However, the government generally has the leeway to classify an act as willful and have the decision hold up at trial.

If an individual fails to pay a tax bill on time, it may be possible for the government to seize assets or garnish wages. However, an attorney may help a person avoid financial or other penalties in a tax case. An attorney may be able to negotiate directly with the IRS on a taxpayer’s behalf. This may maximize the chances that an individual receives a favorable outcome in a given case.