If federal income tax and employment taxes (including Social Security) are withheld from employees’ paychecks and not handed over to the IRS, a harsh penalty can be imposed. To make matters worse, the penalty for not paying payroll taxes on time can be assessed personally against a “responsible individual.”
There are escalating payroll tax penalties for businesses that choose to make the payments late. And if an employer fails to make them, the IRS will crack down hard. With the “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty,” also known as the “100% Penalty,” the IRS can assess the entire unpaid amount against a responsible person who willfully fails to comply with the law.
Some business owners and executives facing a cash flow crunch may face temptation to dip into the payroll taxes withheld from employees. They may think, “I’ll send the money in later when it comes in from another source.” Bad idea!
The corporate veil won’t shield corporate officers in these cases. Unlike some other liability protections that a corporation or limited liability company may have, business owners and executives can’t escape personal liability for payroll tax debts.
Once the IRS asserts the penalty, it can file a lien or take levy or seizure action against a responsible individual’s personal assets.
The penalty for not paying payroll taxes on time can be applied towards a shareholder, owner, director, officer, or employee. In some cases, it can be assessed against a third party. The IRS can also go after more than one person. To be liable, an individual or party must:
The easiest way to avoid the penalty for not paying payroll taxes on time is to avoid getting into one in the first place. Are you involved in a small or medium-size business? If so, make sure the federal taxes that have been withheld from employees’ paychecks are paid over to the government on time. Don’t ever allow “borrowing” from withheld amounts.
Consider hiring an outside service to handle payroll duties. A good payroll service provider relieves you of the burden of paying employees, making the deductions, taking care of the tax payments and handling record-keeping. In addition, they can help to defer payroll taxes when permitted. Contact our Chicago payroll services team for more information.