Articles Tagged with TFRP

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A 2017 case is a stark $300,000 reminder that the IRS is not bound by statements made by its employees, such as Revenue Officers. Tommy Weder was a responsible officer of a corporation which failed to pay its payroll taxes, and as a result, he was assessed a trust fund recovery penalty (TFRP) pursuant to IRC Section 6672. After he paid the $300,000, he filed suit in federal district court in Oklahoma requesting a refund. His theory was that the company had paid $300,000 towards the trust fund taxes, and that, therefore, his personal liability was reduced by that amount. In most cases, a taxpayer must pay any tax in full (not just a portion) before he or she can file a suit for a refund. However, under the so-called Flora rule, payroll taxes are divisible taxes, therefore, the taxpayer must only pay the tax due for one employee for one quarter.

The IRS took the position that the payment was not properly designated toward the trust fund, and that it was therefore entitled to, and did, apply the payment towards non-trust fund taxes owed by the company, which of course doesn’t reduce the trust fund recovery penalty. Weder didn’t dispute that there hadn’t been a written designation of tax. The payment had been made through the IRS’ EFTS system, and there was no designation. Weder argued, however, that the Revenue Officer that had been assigned to collection had met with representatives of the company, including its CPA, and that the Revenue Officer had demanded that the payment be made through EFTPS, and represented that the payment would be applied to the trust fund taxes.

The court ruled that absent a WRITTEN designation by the company, the IRS was free to apply the payment in the “best interest” of the government. The Court relied on Rev. Proc. 2002-26, which provides that absent written directions, the IRS “will apply payments to periods in the order of priority that the Service determines will serve the Service’s best interest.” It pointed out that prior to Rev. Proc. 2002-26 being promulgated, the prior IRS guidance was contained in Rev. Rul. 73-2. CB 43. That Revenue ruling only required that taxpayers give “directions.”

South Carolina Bank Involved in Employment Tax Fraud Scheme
The former Vice President of a South Carolina-based bank has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by participating in an employment tax fraud scheme that resulted in over $1 million in unpaid payroll taxes. This case shows that the Department of Justice will go after those who are complicit in employment tax fraud in addition to businesses or individuals that fail to remit payroll taxes.

Douglas Corriher made several loans to a bank customer who operated staffing companies in North Carolina. These loans were made through nominees to circumvent federal laws that limit the amount that can be loaned to a single entity. Engaging in illegal activities is one of the badges of tax fraud, so these illegal loans may have indicated to the IRS that an intentional violation of a known legal duty was occurring.

The staffing company handled the payroll responsibilities—including remitting payroll taxes and filing W-2 forms—for thousands of low-wage temp workers. The W-2 forms indicated that the employment taxes had been withheld from the workers’ wages, even though they had not actually been paid.

How the IRS Pursues Payroll Tax Collections
Payroll taxes represent both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes, along with Federal income taxes that are withheld from an employee’s paycheck. The IRS takes an especially hard stance on the failure to remit payroll taxes, and uses aggressive collection efforts when pursuing these delinquent taxes.

The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty for Delinquent Payroll Taxes

The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) is a “penalty” equal to the trust fund portion of corporate unpaid payroll taxes..

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.