IRS Data Book

The IRS recently released their Data Book for 10/1/19 – 9/30/20. This publication is a compilation of various statistics for the fiscal year ended 9/30/20. You can find some interesting information that might be useful in dealing with the IRS.

For example, ever wonder which penalties are the easiest to abate? Table 26 shows penalties assessed vs. penalties abated. I did a little spreadsheet work and compiled the following table for individual penalties:


Type of tax and type of penalty Civil penalties assessed Civil penalties abated % of # % of $ abated
Number Amount Number Amount
Civil penalties, total 33,393,194       17,132,623       3,069,510       2,702,606       9% 16%
Accuracy 788,243 1,821,183 37,241 230,451 5% 13%
Bad check 1,041,858 96,592 55,027 18,976 5% 20%
Delinquency 3,404,985 4,568,266 430,604 1,081,078 13% 24%
Estimated tax 11,103,032 2,165,917 336,758 432,405 3% 20%
Failure to pay 17,048,457 8,028,212 2,209,541 903,366 13% 11%
Fraud 1,296 403,787 150 33,184 12% 8%
Other [5] 5,323 48,665 189 3,145 4% 6%

The failure-to-file penalty is the most likely penalty to be abated. The accuracy penalty is the one that causes taxpayers the most angst and is one of the hardest to get relief.

The bad check penalty is interesting. It’s one of the easiest penalties to have abated since it requires someone to knowingly issue an insufficient funds check. Most of the corporate bad check penalties are abated, but only 5% of the assessments on individuals get removed presumably because the amounts are too small to bother with.

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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