Automatic 5471 Penalties Submitted With Form 1120

In an earlier article, I discussed various penalties generally associated with late or inaccurate filing of Form 5471 (this form is required under IRC Section 6038(a) to provide information with respect to certain US shareholders of foreign corporations). These penalties are generally subject to “reasonable cause” exception and are not imposed in every case.

Since 2009, however, this is not the case. Starting January 1, 2009, the IRS automatically assesses a $10,000 penalty (under IRC Section 6038(b)(1)) for each late filed Form 5471 if the related Form 1120 is not filed timely. Note, the automatic assessment of penalty results in this case even if there is no tax due.

Furthermore, IRC Section 6038(c) provides for a 10% reduction of the foreign taxes available for credit under IRC Sections 901, 902 and 960. Per IRC Section 6038(c)(3), this reduction to the foreign taxes can be applied in addition to the monetary penalty. It is important to realize that the automatic assessment of the $10,000 penalty does not preclude a later assessment under IRC Section 6038(c).

In addition, the IRS will also assess the penalty for the failure to file income tax returns (i.e. Form 1120) under IRC Section 6651(a)(1). The penalty is 5% of the tax required to be shown on the income tax return for each month (or fraction thereof) during which such failure continues. The amount of the penalty shall not exceed 25%. No penalty is applicable under IRC Section 6651(a)(1) if no underpayment of tax is shown on the return.

There is an interesting procedural twist with respect to automatic assessment of penalties – the IRS does not want you to include the reasonable cause statement together with Form 5471 filed late together with Form 1120. Rather, the IRS Service Centers will first send the taxpayer a Notice to Respond and the taxpayer can respond with a reasonable cause statement.

Whether or not to follow this procedural suggestion will depend on the individual case and such decision should be made by your tax attorney.

Of course, the situation is radically different if Form 1120 has already been timely filed. In this case, the taxpayer must file Form 1120X with the late Form 5471 and he should include his reasonable cause statement.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Help with Form 5471 Penalties

If you have not filed your Form 5471 yet or if you are facing a penalty for the already filed Form 5471, contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help. Our experienced international tax firm will thoroughly analyze your case, present options for proceeding forward, prepare all of the required documentation and tax forms, and rigorously represent your interests during your negotiations with the IRS.