The IRS announced Monday that it will provide automatic penalty relief for taxpayers who, when they reconciled advance payments of the premium tax credit they received for 2014 (which were paid as premiums directly to insurance providers) to the amount of the credit they are entitled to on their income tax returns, find they owe additional tax they are unable to pay or owe a penalty for underestimating the amount of tax due (Notice 2015-9).
Taxpayers who do not pay tax due by April 15 usually owe a failure-to-pay penalty under Sec. 6651(a)(2), unless they are granted relief for reasonable cause. In addition, taxpayers whose reconciliation results in underpaid tax may be subject to the Sec. 6654(a) penalty for failure to pay estimated tax.
For the 2014 tax year only, taxpayers who owe an amount they cannot pay, attributable to the reconciliation of the premium tax credit, or an underpayment penalty qualify for automatic relief (1) if they are otherwise current on their tax filing and payment obligations; (2) have a balance due for the 2014 tax year because of excess advance payments of the premium tax credit; and (3) (to qualify for underpayment penalty relief only) report the amount of excess advance credit payments on their 2014 tax return timely filed, including extensions.
Taxpayers are considered current on the filing and payment obligations if, as of the date they file their 2014 income tax returns, they have filed, or filed an extension for, all currently required federal tax returns, and paid or have entered into an installment agreement (which is not in default), an offer in compromise, or both to satisfy a federal tax liability. If a taxpayer has not paid a tax due because there is a genuine dispute between the taxpayer and the IRS in which there has not been a final determination as to the existence or amount of the correct tax liability under the law, then the amount of tax in dispute will be treated as being current while the dispute is pending.
The IRS explains that taxpayers who underpay their tax because of excess advance payments of the premium tax credit will receive a notice from the IRS assessing the Sec. 6651(a)(2) penalty and demanding payment. When responding to the IRS letter, taxpayers should attach the statement, “I am eligible for the relief granted under Notice 2015-9 because I received excess advance payment of the premium tax credit.” Taxpayers who file their returns by April 15, 2015, will be entitled to relief even if they have not fully paid the underlying liability by the time they request relief. Taxpayers who file their returns after that date must pay the underlying liability by April 15, 2016, to be eligible for relief.
To request relief from the estimated tax penalty, taxpayers need only check box A requesting a waiver in Part II of Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts, complete page 1 of the form, and include the form with their return, along with the statement, “Received excess advance payment of the premium tax credit.” They do not need to send any other documents or calculate the amount of penalty for the penalty to be waived.
— Sally P. Schreiber ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a JofA senior editor.