January 31 Deadline Looms for Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC
The possibility that the government shutdown will continue into next month resulting in many IRS employees not working to process Forms W-2 and Forms 1099-MISC has no impact on the January 31 deadline for filing these forms.
Filing Deadlines for Forms W-2 and Forms 1099-MISC
The 2018 Forms W-2 must be filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31, 2019. Form 1099-MISC must be filed with the IRS by January 31st if non-employee compensation (NEC) is being reported on the form. If a Form 1099-MISC is not reporting NEC and is filed on paper, the filing deadline is February 28, 2019. If the Form 1099-MISC is not reporting NEC and is filed electronically, the deadline is March 31, 2019.
Regardless of the deadlines above, all of these forms must be given to taxpayers no later than January 31st. This filing deadline was made uniform under The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. Prior law required that only W-2’s had to be provided to employees no later than January 31st with all other reporting forms (including the copies to IRS) due by the end of February. Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties to the employer or payor.
Extensions of time to file Form W-2 may be requested. One 30-day extension to file Form W-2 may be requested by submitting a complete application on Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns. Form 8809 must include a detailed explanation of why the additional time is needed and be signed under penalties of perjury. The IRS states that extensions are granted only in extraordinary circumstances or catastrophe.
Penalties for Failing to File Correct and Timely Forms 1099s
Information reporting penalties apply if a payer fails to timely file an information return, fails to include all information required to be shown on the return, or includes incorrect information on the return. The penalties apply to all variations of Form 1099. The amount of the penalty is based on when the correct information return is filed.
For returns required to be filed for the 2018 tax year, the penalty is:
- $50 per information return for returns filed correctly within 30 days after the due date, with a maximum penalty of $545,500 a year ($191,000 for certain small businesses);
- $100 per information return for returns filed more than 30 days after the due date but by August 1, with a maximum penalty of $1,637,500 a year ($545,500 for certain small businesses); and
- $270 per information return for returns filed after August 1st or not filed at all, with a maximum penalty of $3,275,500 a year for most businesses, but $1,091,500 for certain small businesses.
For purposes of the lower penalty, a business is a small business for any calendar year if its average annual gross receipts for the three most recent tax years (or for the period it was in existence, if shorter) ending before the calendar year do not exceed $5 million.
Persons who are required to file information returns electronically but who fail to do so (without an approved waiver) are treated as having failed to file the return unless the person shows reasonable cause for the failure. However, they can file up to 250 returns on paper; those returns will not be subject to a penalty for failure to file electronically. The penalty applies separately to original returns and corrected returns.
The penalty also applies if a person reports an incorrect taxpayer identification number (TIN) or fails to report a TIN, or fails to file paper forms that are machine readable.
The penalty for failure to include the correct information on a return does not apply to a de minimis number of information returns with such failures if the failures are corrected by August 1st of the calendar year in which the due date occurs. The number of returns to which this exception applies cannot be more than the greater of 10 returns or 0.5 percent of the total number of information returns required to be filed for the year.
If a failure to file a correct information return is due to an intentional disregard of one of the requirements (i.e., it is a knowing or willing failure), the penalty is the greater of $530 per return or the statutory percentage of the aggregate dollar amount of the items required to be reported (the statutory percentage depends on the type of information return at issue). In addition, in the case of intentional disregard of the requirements, the $5 million limitation does not apply.
Under IRS Notice 2017-9, a safe harbor from penalties has been established for failure to file correct information returns and failure to furnish correct payee statements for certain de minimis errors. Under the safe harbor, an error on an information return or payee statement is not required to be corrected, and no penalty is imposed, if the error relates to an incorrect dollar amount and the error differs from the correct amount by no more than $100 ($25 in the case of an error with respect to an amount of tax withheld).
Automated Substitute For Return Program
When a taxpayer does not file and the IRS has information statements indicating a filing requirement, the IRS uses the data to file a return on behalf of the taxpayer if there is a projected balance owed. In 2012, the IRS used information statements to file 803,000 returns for taxpayers, totaling $6.7 billion in additional taxes owed. And the sad thing about this is in just about every case, the amount actually owed when a tax return is filed by the taxpayer is much lower than what the IRS says a non-filer taxpayer owes. We even had cases where the IRS ended up owing our clients money.
The Stakes Are High!
A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study showed that the IRS spends $267 million on underreporter matching programs, compared with the $4.2 billion it spends on audits. But automated information-matching programs return almost six times more revenue than audits. You can see why with fewer IRS agents and reduced budgets, the IRS will increasingly rely on technology-driven matching programs to bring in more tax dollars.
What Should You Do?
So if you receive one of these audit notices or the IRS is looking to assert penalties on late or incomplete 1099 filings, it is important that you don’t ignore it. Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Diego County (Carlsbad) and elsewhere in California defend you from the IRS. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorneys can do for you.