Internal Revenue Code § 6672 provides that so-called responsible persons who willfully fail to pay corporate payroll taxes may be held personally responsible for the payment of the trust fund portion of these taxes. Internal Revenue Code § 6672 is sometimes referred to as the trust fund recovery penalty (TFRP). Who is a responsible person? As the court in Horovitz v. United States (WD PA 2008) explained: “responsibility is a matter of status, duty or authority.” The definition of responsible person is not limited to the person with the final say on which bills get paid, but includes others as well.
Horovitz illustrates the principle that more than one person can have liability for the trust fund recovery penalty. The CFO was deemed to be a responsible person since he had the full authority to sign checks, could hire and fire employees, signed payroll tax returns, was a corporate officer, and a 20% owner. The CEO was also held liable for the trust fund recovery penalty since he invested several million dollars in the business, owned 80% of the stock, had unlimited hiring and firing ability and check writing authority, and served as the CEO with day to day involvement in the business.