Articles Tagged with payroll tax problems

In Greek mythology, King Sisyphus is punished by the gods and forced to roll a huge boulder up a hill only for it to roll down as it nears the top. No matter how much effort Sisyphus puts into attempting to push the boulder over the crest of the hill, it always come tumbling back down. He is doomed to push the boulder up the hill for all eternity. Sometimes collecting payroll taxes can be a “Sisyphean task” for the IRS. At least, that is what the 11th Court of Appeals wrote in a recent decision.

United States v. Askins & Miller Orthopedics, involved a private medical practice which refused to pay payroll taxes. The IRS first tried to negotiate an installment agreement with the medical practice’s business owners, but the business owners would ultimately renege on any agreement. Then the IRS issued a tax levy on property held by the medical practice in various entities, but the business owners would simply shift property to new entities out of reach of the power of the levies. Believing it was out of options, the IRS requested a permanent injunction from the district court to compel the taxpayers to perform and pay their employment taxes now and into the future.

The district court rejected the IRS request because the court argued that the IRS had yet to suffer irreparable harm. The district court reasoned that the IRS could still sue for monetary damages once the taxpayers again failed to pay their employment taxes. This is in spite of the fact that the district court conceded that the taxpayers exhibited a pattern of unlawful conduct likely to persist. In other words, the taxpayers would continue to find ways to not pay their taxes.

When to Use the IRS Voluntary Classification Settlement Program
The IRS Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) allows taxpayers to reclassify their workers as employees for employment tax purposes and eliminate the risk of payroll tax problems caused by misclassification in previous tax years. In essence, the taxpayer agrees to classify its workers as employees going forward and pays a small portion of the employment tax liability that would have been owed for previous tax years if the workers were considered employees. In exchange, the IRS will not conduct a payroll tax audit based on worker classification for prior tax years.

The VCSP should not be confused with the Classification Settlement Program (CSP), which is available to taxpayers currently under an employment tax audit. The VCSP is not available to taxpayers who are currently under an employment tax audit.

Eligibility for the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program

How to Resolve a Payroll Tax Dispute
Payroll tax disputes often arise when a worker is paid as an independent contractor, but the IRS or California Employment Development Department (EDD) believes that the worker is an employee. There are some differences between federal and state requirements, but a business will often have to deal with both the IRS and EDD when a worker misclassification problem arises.

The 20-Factor Test

Many employers believe that as long as they have a contract stating that a worker is an independent contractor, they are covered. This is not true. A worker is legally classified as an employee or independent contractor based on the circumstances of the employment relationship.

The IRS Classification Settlement Program Can Reduce Your Tax Debt
The IRS Classification Settlement Program (CSP) is designed to allow businesses to settle a tax debt owed due misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Along with safe harbor relief under Section 530, the CSP can be an effective tool for businesses involved in payroll tax disputes.

The Costs of Misclassifying Employees

Many businesses would like to treat their workers as employees, but the status of the employment relationship is not determined solely based on the employer’s classification of the worker. Rather, the facts and circumstances of the employment arrangement will determine whether the worker is an employee of independent contractor. In particular, courts will look at the behavior control, financial control, and relationship of the parties when classifying a worker.

Can an Employee Be Held Liable for Their Employer's Unpaid Taxes
An employee can be held liable for their employer’s unpaid taxes in certain situations. While most businesses withhold their employees’ income and payroll taxes and then transmit them to the IRS, there are cases where employers either do not withhold taxes or do not give the withheld money to the IRS. Employees need to be aware of their responsibilities as both taxpayers and a person responsible for collecting and paying a business’s income or payroll taxes.

Liability for Employee’s Unpaid Taxes

If your employer fails to withhold income or payroll taxes from your paycheck, you are still responsible for paying these taxes to the IRS. If you do not pay these taxes personally, you may face tax penalties, and you may not be eligible for Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits.

payroll tax problems
As a California  employer, you are responsible for making payroll tax payments to the California Employment Development Department and the IRS. These payroll tax deposits must be made regularly, often monthly or weekly as taxes are withheld from payroll disbursements. If you become behind on making these deposits, you could face serious consequences and personal liability for the money owed. Knowing your rights, obligations and options is crucial to avoid the consequences of not paying these taxes on time.

The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty

Not making payroll tax deposits in accordance with the law is illegal, and collecting them is a high priority for the IRS. Payroll taxes are considered a trust fund tax, which means you are withholding taxes from your employees in trust for the government. Delaying payment of these taxes means you have “stolen” money that belongs to the IRS and you may be subject to the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP).