IRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law

IRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law
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The IRS on Wednesday announced that it will waive a penalty for some taxpayers who didn't have enough money withheld from their paychecks last year, in an effort to aid people as they adjust to the tax-code changes made by President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE's tax law.

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a news release. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”

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In early 2018, the IRS released new guidance about tax withholding from people's paychecks that was designed to reflect Trump's 2017 tax law. The guidance reflected changes such as the lower tax rates and larger standard deduction.

Most taxpayers across the income spectrum are expected to receive a tax cut for 2018 because of the tax law. 

When the withholding guidance came out, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBudget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Conservative group raises concerns about potential budget deal How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE said he expected 90 percent of wage earners to see more take-home pay due to the guidance. The IRS also expects most taxpayers to receive refunds this year when they file their tax returns for 2018.

But the new withholding guidance did not account for all of the tax changes made in the 2017 law, so some taxpayers may have ended up having too little in taxes taken from their paychecks last year. Those people will end up owing money when they file their taxes in the coming weeks and months.

Taxpayers typically owe a penalty if they don't pay enough taxes during the year. Normally, the penalty wouldn't apply for 2018 if the taxpayer made payments throughout the year of at least 90 percent of their 2018 tax liability or at least 100 percent of their 2017 tax liability.

But the IRS said that it will lower the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent for waiver purposes, to reduce the number of people who might have to pay a penalty this year.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had requested that the IRS waive penalties for taxpayers who didn't have enough withheld from their paychecks.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities MORE (D-Ore.) had asked the IRS to waive underwithholding penalties in a letter earlier this month. Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyScandal in Puerto Rico threatens chance at statehood Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection MORE (R-Iowa) said on the Senate floor Wednesday that he had "encouraged the IRS to be lenient on penalties, especially with this first time through a filing season under the new tax law."