First Time Penalty Abatement

Take Advantage of the IRS’ First-Time Penalty Abatement Policy

Filing and paying state and federal taxes can be complicated, inconvenient, and unnerving. Deadlines can be hard to remember and even harder to meet. And since state and federal tax laws are constantly changing, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. With all this confusion and bureaucracy, failing to file and pay your taxes is an understandable mistake — and one that is easy to make. 

If you or someone you know has missed a filing or payment deadline, you’re probably subject to penalties. But you could be eligible to waive these fees if you meet certain criteria. Keep reading to learn more about the IRS First Time Penalty Abatement program and how it could improve your tax situation.

What Is First Time Penalty Abatement?

First time penalty abatement (FTA) waives a taxpayer’s first failure-to-file, failure-to-pay, or failure-to-deposit penalty. The IRS understands that everyone makes mistakes, and they want to reward individuals who have a good tax history with a free pass for that first mistake, which is good news because they aren’t cheap. In fact, the average penalty amount in 2019 was $431.63!

Here’s how each penalty is assessed.

  • Failure-to-File Penalty: Failing to file your tax returns by the annual due date without an acceptable reason will result in a 5% fee for each month (or part of a month) that passes before you file. This amount cannot exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes.
  • Failure-to-Pay Penalty: Failing to pay your tax returns by the annual due date without an acceptable reason will result in a 0.5% fee for each month (or part of a month) that passes before you file. This amount cannot exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes.
  • Failure-to-Deposit: Businesses that fail to deposit federal taxes on behalf of their employees accurately and on time are charged based on how late they are.
    • 2% for being 1-5 days late.
    • 5% for being 6-15 days late.
    • 10% for being more than 15 days late.
    • 15% if the business fails to pay more than 10 days after the first payment notice.

Unfortunately, the FTA does not apply to several other penalties, such as estimated tax or accuracy-related penalties — or event-based filing requirements. In addition, estate and gift tax returns do not qualify for FTA. 

Still, if you are eligible for first time penalty abatement, you could save yourself a lot of money in fees (not to mention some serious headaches).

Who Is Eligible for First Time Penalty Abatement

The eligibility requirements for first time penalty abatement include:

Clean Penalty History: The taxpayer cannot have previous tax-related penalties for at least three years.

Filing Compliance: The taxpayer must have filed all necessary returns — or have filed for an extension.

Payment Compliance: The taxpayer must be current with all tax payments — or have entered into an Installment Agreement

You should know that you can only use FTA during a single tax year. If your FTA request is for two or more tax years, abatement will only apply to the most recent tax year you are eligible for. Also, if you’ve already paid an applicable penalty, you could be eligible for a return by completing this form

Related Content: Penalty Abatement Tax Services

How to Increase Your Chances at First Time Penalty Abatement

When it comes to successfully filing for FTA, be sure to show previous compliance in writing and with supporting documents. If you have had a penalty, but it was more than three years ago, you should highlight your compliance history and explain the reasoning for your late filing, payment, or deposit.

You can make your request for FTA by phone or in writing, but be sure to follow up with the IRS. Often times, you will receive approval immediately over the phone, but if you haven’t received a response within 10 business days of making your request, call the IRS to ensure your request has been received and to make a new request if necessary. In addition, be sure that the IRS places a hold on your collection while the IRS is considering your abatement request. 

Finally, be sure to file your FTA request within three years of the filing date for the year in question and/or two years after you originally paid the penalty. If you fail to do so, you will lose your FTA eligibility and be stuck with the fines you owe. 

Contact S.H. Block Tax Services to Learn More!

If you or someone you know has failed to file or pay your taxes, or have been subjected to an IRS mistake, S.H. Block Tax Services is here to help. Our skilled and experienced attorneys focus exclusively on state and federal tax issues and are ready to fight on your behalf.

To schedule your free consultation today, please call (888) 884-8686 or complete this brief form!


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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