The Treasury Department and the IRS have received requests from taxpayers for relief from penalties arising when additional income tax is owed because the deduction for qualified wages is reduced by the amount of retroactively claimed employee retention tax credit (ERTC), but the taxpayer is unable to pay the additional income tax because the ERTC refund payment has not yet been received.

Further, the Treasury and the IRS are aware that this situation may arise, partly, due to the IRS’ backlog in processing adjusted employment tax returns on which the taxpayers claim ERTC retroactively. An employer must reduce its income tax deduction for the ERTC qualified wages by the amount of the ERTC for the tax year in which such wages were paid or incurred. Taxpayers who claimed the ERTC retroactively and filed an amended income tax return have an increased income tax liability but may not yet have received their ERTC refund.

Finally, the IRS reminded taxpayers that they may be eligible for relief from penalties for failing to pay their taxes if they can show reasonable cause and not willful neglect for the failure to pay. Taxpayers may also qualify for administrative relief from penalties for failing to pay on time under the IRS’ First Time Penalty Abatement program if they:

  • Did not previously have to file a return or had no penalties for the three prior tax years;
  • Filed all currently required returns or filed an extension of time to file; and
  • Paid or arranged to pay any tax due.