This is tax attorney Robert E. McKenzie’s testimony before the IRS Oversight Board hearing on January 23, 2003 on behalf of the American Bar Association, Section of Taxation.
A tax practitioner is frequently confronted with the following question when giving a client a return with a balance due on it: “Should I file the return right now, or wait until I have the money to pay it?”
The answer is very simple. File it as soon as possible! If your client has any money at
all available for payment, it should be enclosed with the return. The reason for such
advice is that one of the largest penalty rates which the IRS is allowed to impose is for
late filing of a return. The penalty is five percent per month, up to a maximum, of 25%, of the tax due but unpaid by the due date of the return, which works out to be an annualized rate of 60%. Therefore, if your client fails to file the return on time there is an effective annual rate of interest in excess of 75% when you add interest and. late payment penalty. The late payment penalty after notice, on the other hand, is one percent per month, or an effective rate of 12% per year in addition to statutory interest. One1 drawback of filing a timely return without remittance is that the IRS will arrive at the taxpayer’s door to collect the liability much sooner than if he or she files a return late. However, the additional cost for penalties incurred to gain this time is prohibitive.
The IRS Collection Division attempts to collect delinquent taxes as inexpensively and rapidly as possible. To accomplish this task the IRS makes extensive use of computers. Only when automated methods have failed to collect a tax is the matter assigned to an individual for collection