Sunday, February 24, 2019

What You Need to Know About the Underpayment Penalty

The definition of the underpayment penalty is a tax penalty enacted on an individual for not paying enough of his or her total estimated tax and withholding. Most places of employment will withhold taxes automatically. Checking a pay stub will show how much tax has been deducted and paid to the state and federal so people can keep track of it for their records.

How Do You Get an Underpayment Penalty?

Taxes can be confusing when multiple streams of income are coming in and estimating how much tax should be withheld from each one. The penalties come about when an estimated amount of the income you've made isn't paid to the IRS. 

Taxes from income are estimated on a quarterly basis and normally paid out before the quarter is up. These taxes can be applied to rent, self-employment, interest, etc. Basically, any source of money coming in or out is taxable.

The underpayment penalty comes into play when not enough of the estimated tax has been paid each quarter. This doesn't mean the IRS is going to come at you full force if you don't pay enough tax each quarter, weren't aware of it, or didn't have enough money to pay.

What Do You Do When Faced with the Penalty?

Whether your income comes in from a side business or somewhere else, if you do accrue a penalty the first step is communicating with the IRS. Finding out how much you owe in taxes and whether or not the penalty can be forgiven depends on your financial situation. People facing the penalty for the first time due to an error and not neglecting the responsibility will face less harsh consequences.

Making an appointment with a tax attorney at this point would be in your best interests, especially if you owe a significant amount to the IRS. Every financial situation is different and a tax attorney can help you navigate how much you need to pay back in taxes. 

Penalties can increase the amount you owe the IRS the longer the taxes go unpaid, so you want to get in touch with the IRS as soon as possible to pursue the best course of action.

Underpayment tax is calculated by income earned and the amount owed, and when penalties come into play the amount can easily increase. If, for example, you were unable to pay taxes last year due to not having enough money, you can most likely arrange a payment plan with the IRS to pay off the different amount. 

Keep in mind, there are also exceptions where the underpayment penalty will be waived depending on certain circumstances, like a natural disaster, paid at least 90% of taxes owed, etc. Investopedia does a great break down of exceptions of the situations and circumstances of when the penalty can be waived.

How Do You Avoid the Penalty?

The best way to avoid the underpayment penalty is to keep records of each source of income coming in and estimating the taxes needed to be paid on both. If you have multiple sources of income, whether from self-employment, rent, etc., you may want to talk to an accountant to help you keep track of how much is owed. 

If not, you can pay taxes quarterly for each source of income so the amount doesn't evolve into a landslide.

Make sure to pay each amount by their due dates and don't be late on payments. If for any reason you suspect you'll be unable to pay the estimated amount of taxes, be sure to get in touch with a tax attorney and explain the situation to them. 

They can advise you on the best course of action to avoid falling under the penalty, or get in touch with the IRS to let them know about the situation. The worst thing you can do is to not pay the taxes and ignore it hoping the problem will go away on its own.

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