IRS Form 1041 Penalties and Interest

Form 1041 (“U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts”) is used by a fiduciary of a domestic decedent’s estate, trust, or bankruptcy estate for a number of important reporting reasons. Interest may be charged and various penalties may be assessed for failure to meet reporting requirements and to pay necessary taxes.

In this article, we will detail the various penalties that may be imposed, and interest that may be charged, concerning Form 1041. This article is not intended to convey tax or legal advice. If you have any questions about filing Form 1041, or any other tax or legal questions, please contact Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, an experienced tax attorney at Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd.

Form 1041 Interest

Interest will be charged on any taxes that were not paid by the due date of Form 1041, regardless of whether an extension of time to file was granted. In addition, interest will also be charged on any Form 1041 penalties imposed resulting from failure to file, negligence, fraud, substantial valuation misstatements, substantial understatements of tax, and reportable transaction understatements.

Interest is charged on the penalty from the date the Form 1041 is due, including any extensions, and is charged at a rate determined under Internal Revenue Code Section 6621.

Form 1041 Late Filing Penalty

A penalty may be assessed for 5% of the tax due for each month (or part of a month) for which Form 1041 is not filed, up to a maximum of 25% of the tax due (and 15% for each month, or part of a month, up to a maximum of 75% if the failure to file is fraudulent). If the late Form 1041 is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty to be assessed will be the smaller of $135 or the tax due. In certain cases, penalties may not be imposed if a taxpayer can prove the failure to file Form 1041 was due to reasonable cause.

Form 1041 Late Payment of Tax Penalty

A penalty for not paying tax owed when due may apply to any unpaid tax as calculated on Form 1041; the late payment Form 1041 penalty is an addition to interest charges on late payments. In general, the late payment penalty is 0.5% of the unpaid amount for each month (or part of a month), up to a maximum penalty is 25% of the unpaid amount.

Penalty for Failure to Provide (Form 1040) K-1 Timely

Because Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) must be provided on or before the day Form 1041 is required to be filed to each beneficiary who receives a distribution of property or an allocation of an item of the estate, a penalty for the failure to provide this information timely if Form K-1 if filed late. This penalty applies to both a failure to provide Schedule K-1 to a beneficiary when due and for each failure to include on Schedule K-1 all the information required to be shown (or the inclusion of incorrect information).

The standard penalty for failure to provide Form 1041 K-1 timely is $100. The maximum penalty up to $1.5 million for all such failures during a calendar year may be imposed. Furthermore, if the requirement to report information was intentionally disregarded, each $100 penalty will be increased to $250 or, if greater, 10% of the aggregate amount of items that were required to be reported; in this case, the $1.5 million maximum will not apply.

However, if a fiduciary can demonstrate that the failure to provide information timely was due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect, this penalty may not be imposed.

Underpaid Estimated Tax Penalty

In situations in which a fiduciary underpaid estimated tax, Form 2210 (“Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts”) will need to be utilized to figure any penalty; this amount is then input onto line 26 of Form 1041.

Trust Fund Recovery Penalty

A Trust Fund Recovery Penalty may be imposed if certain excise, income, social security, and Medicare taxes that were required to collected or withheld, were not, or if such taxes were not paid. This penalty may apply to all persons responsible for collecting, accounting for, or paying over these taxes, and who acted willfully in not doing so. The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty will be equal to the unpaid trust fund tax.

Other Form 1041 Penalties

In addition, other standard penalties may apply to Form 1041, such as negligence and substantial understatement of tax penalties, among others. The IRS defines negligence to mean “[A] failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the tax law or to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in preparing a return. Negligence also includes failure to keep adequate books and records.” A substantial understatement of tax will occur when an understatement is more than the greater of 10% of the correct tax or $5,000, subject to certain exceptions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Trust Tax Compliance Issues

Trust tax compliance may involve complex issues, and the penalties for failing to meet Form 1041 compliance requirements can potentially be significant. You are advised to seek the advice of an attorney practicing in this area. If you have any questions, please contact Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. for all of your tax and legal needs.

2014 Tax Season to Start Later Following Government Closure

The IRS recently announced a delay of approximately one to two weeks to the start of the 2014 filing season to allow adequate time to program and test tax processing systems following the 16-day federal government closure.

The IRS is exploring options to shorten the expected delay and will announce a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season in December, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was January 21, 2014, and with a one- to two-week delay, the IRS would start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than January 28.

The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year.

About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, with some major workstreams closed entirely during this period, putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year in order to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.

“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Werfel said. “The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers. We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season.”

The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the start date, which will be announced in December. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place.

Importance of Determining Your Tax Filing Status

Figuring out your filing status is the first major step in filing your tax return. Your tax filing status not only will allow you to determine the correct tax (from the Tax Computation Worksheet or appropriate column in the Tax Table), but also it is crucial to understanding your eligibility for and the exact amount of deductions, exemptions, tax credits. For example, in some situations, if your taxable income is close to $160,000, the choice between filing as “single” and filing as “married filing separately” may influence whether you need to pay the alternative minimum tax (“AMT”); it is more likely that filing as “single” will help you avoid AMT, while “married filing separately” status may have the opposite effect. Sometimes, the latter tax filing status may also make you ineligible for certain tax credits even at a much lower income bracket – a situation that may be avoided if you are filing joint tax return with your spouse.

There are five possible tax statuses: 1) single; 2) married filing jointly; 3) married filing separately; 4) head of household, and 5) qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. The benefits and drawbacks of each status differ greatly depending on a tax situation. In some cases, you may be eligible for more than one status (for example, single and head of household); in other cases, your eligibility may be greatly influenced by the choices you make.

In order to draw out the benefits and avoid costly mistakes, careful tax planning is necessary. The Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) is so complex that it requires a tax professional to fully understand its provisions. Tax attorneys are professionals who usually are in a much better position to legitimately utilize possibilities offered by the IRC.

Sherayzen Law Office is a law firm that offers individual and business tax services. We can help you understand your current tax position, file the tax returns for you, and carefully plan your tax strategies for the future. CALL NOW to start resolving your tax issues!

Definition of Foreign Earned Income for the purposes of Foreign Income Exclusion under I.R.C. §911

Under I.R.C. §911, if certain conditions are met, a qualified individual can exclude as much $91,400 (for tax year 2009) of foreign earned income from taxable gross income. Two questions arise: what is earned income, and when is such income considered to be foreign earned income?

Earned Income

Earned income usually means wages, salaries, or professional fees, and other amounts received as compensation for personal services actually rendered, but does not include that part of the compensation derived by the taxpayer for personal services rendered by him to a corporation which represents a distribution of earnings or profits rather than a reasonable allowance as compensation for the personal services actually rendered.

The issue of earned income becomes complicated in a situation where a taxpayer engaged in a trade or business in which both personal services and capital are material income producing factors. Capital is a material income-producing factor if the operation of the business requires substantial inventories or substantial investments in plant, machinery, or other equipment. In this case, a reasonable allowance as compensation for the personal services rendered by the taxpayer, not in excess of 30 percent of his share of the net profits of such trade or business, shall be considered as earned income (I.R.C. §911(d)(2)(B)). This rule, however, would not apply where the capital is merely incidental to the production of income (see Rousku v. Commissioner (Tax. Ct.1971)).

In a situation where the services rendered abroad culminate in a product that is either sold or licensed, it is difficult to determine whether the proceeds are earned income. Usually, such issues are resolved on a case-by-case basis.

Foreign Earned Income

Earned income is usually considered as “foreign earned income” if it is attributable to services actually rendered by the taxpayer while oversees. The place at which the taxpayer receives the income is not relevant. For example, an employee working abroad for a U.S. employer does not lose the exclusions by having her compensation paid into a bank account in the United States. Note, however, that services rendered in anticipation of, or after the conclusion of an oversees assignment are not covered by the exclusion. I.R.C. §911(b)(1)(A) and §911(d)(2)

Reduction of Estimated Tax Payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

Prior to the ARRA, small businesses usually had to pay 110 percent of their previous year’s taxes in estimated taxes. The ARRA permits small businesses to reduce their estimated payments to 90 percent of the previous year’s taxes.