IRS expands relief from underpayment penalty

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The IRS announced on Friday that it is amending Notice 2019-11 to lower the amount of tax that an individual must have paid in 2018 to avoid the underpayment of estimated income tax penalty to 80% (Notice 2019-25). The change was made after concerns were raised that the earlier relief, which lowered the underpayment penalty threshold from 90% to 85%, did not go far enough given all the uncertainties taxpayers and tax practitioners faced after the many changes wrought by the law known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), P.L. 115-97.

Under Sec. 6654(d)(1)(B), the required annual income tax payment an individual taxpayer is required to make to avoid an underpayment penalty is the lesser of (1) 90% of the tax shown on the return for the tax year or (2) 100% of the tax shown on the taxpayer’s return for the preceding tax year (110% if the individual’s adjusted gross income on the previous year’s return exceeded $150,000). Sec. 6654(a) imposes an addition to tax for failure to make a sufficient and timely payment of estimated income tax. The IRS, however, is entitled to waive the addition to tax in certain unusual circumstances if its imposition would be against equity and good conscience.

With Friday’s notice, the IRS is waiving the Sec. 6654 addition to tax for failure to make estimated income tax payments for the 2018 tax year otherwise required to be made on or before Jan. 15, 2019, for any individual taxpayer whose total withholding and estimated tax payments made on or before Jan. 15, 2019, equal or exceed 80% of the tax shown on that individual’s 2018 return.

To request the waiver, an individual taxpayer must file Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts, with his or her 2018 income tax return. The taxpayer should check the waiver box in Part II, box A, of the form and include the statement “80% waiver” on the return.

To read about the AICPA’s January request for additional penalty relief, see “First-Year Challenges of TCJA Implementation Require Broader Penalty Relief.”

Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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