Smart Way to Pay Late Payroll Taxes

The Scenario – Your business has fallen behind on paying payroll taxes. You can borrow some money, but not enough to pay off the full past due amount. Now what?

The answer is that you want to minimize the impact of the IRS assessing a penalty on you personally for 100% of the unpaid Trust Funds. The way you do it is to make a voluntary payment with a check. On that check you want to write in the comments section “Trust Funds Only”.  Due to Revenue Procedure 2002-26, the IRS must comply with your request on how to apply the payment against your account.

Why is this good? Sooner or later the IRS is going to get around to collecting those payroll taxes. Their big tool in this process is to access a penalty on the “responsible parties” equal to 100% of the money withheld from employees’ paychecks for income, social security, and medicare taxes. If you make a payment for the business to cover part of the past due amount without any designations, the IRS will automatically apply it first to the unpaid employer taxes. This allows them to maximize the 100% penalty when it is assessed.

If you or someone you know has received a Notice of Intent to Levy or some other federal or state tax issue, please feel free to contact me at either (352) 317-5692 or email .

Author: Jim Payne

Jim Payne, a Florida Certified Public Accountant (CPA) since 1976, offers candid insights on getting square with the IRS — with the least pain, and at the lowest cost — with (or without) the help of a tax representative. Mr. Payne is a former IRS agent and expert in business profitability, IRS audits, IRS payroll tax, and IRS non-filer issues. As a Tax Representative, his goal is clear: " I will speak on your behalf to all IRS agents, so you never have to, and I'll guide you in executing a strategy to resolve your IRS problem so you can get back to enjoying life."

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