The IRS does abate penalties provided you can prove reasonable cause. Establishing reasonable cause is very much a hit-or-miss proposition. However, there is a more effortless penalty abatement procedure if you can qualify.
First Time Abate or FTA will automatically remove the Failure to File, Failure to Deposit, and Failure to Pay penalties for those who have a good record of compliance. A good record of compliance has the following requirements:
- All current-year tax returns have been filed or are on extension.
- Have paid all past year’s taxes or are on a payment plan.
- Have filed the same type of tax return, if required, for the past 3 tax years before the year to be abated.
- Did not receive any penalties for the past 3 tax years before the year to be abated.
Now comes the hard part, how to apply:
- Just call them up and get abated over the phone.
- Mail a Form 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement.
I have found that most IRS people will wipe out the penalties without an argument over the phone. The problem is that it takes hours to get one of them on the phone. It’s far easier to file Form 843, which takes less than 10 minutes than to deal with the IRS phone system. The downside to the mailing is that they are also very inefficient in processing paper returns. So, expect six months minimum of waiting for an answer.