According to the IRS, not only is your ignorance no excuse, but so is that of your tax preparer. In other words, the fact that your tax preparer made a mistake is no excuse and will not absolve you from compliance penalties.
Unfortunately, the penalty for making what could be deemed an innocent mistake can cost a taxpayer a significant sum. What is worse yet is that defending yourself against the IRS is a costly endeavor in terms of both time and money. Part of the problem is that taxpayers often do not have the option of making an appeal directly to the tax court and, instead, must first pay the IRS and then challenge it in either District Court or the Court of Claims. Stated plainly, the average taxpayer simply cannot afford to fight the IRS in tax court.
In the remainder of this article, we will look at two main areas that tend to be problematic for taxpayers: first, assorted penalties for misfilings and mistakes; second, obscure international forms.
Miscellaneous Mishaps and Mistakes
Taxpayers can get caught up in “gotcha” type situations where they inadvertently make a mistake in the type, accuracy or timing of the filings. Here is a checklist of some of most common issues in which taxpayers typically make unintentional errors that will not be forgiven by the IRS.
Obscure International Forms
Many compliance-related rules related to international investments and banking activities were originally created to put a stop to drug dealers, terrorists and flagrant tax cheats. Unfortunately, the regulations are still in force, but apply to increasingly more taxpayers as the threshold amounts have not increased yet more U.S. citizens are working, living or retiring abroad. Moreover, the penalties can be severe. In this section, we will look at some of the most obscure and serious foreign tax compliance issues.
Remember that ignorance of the tax law is no excuse, especially in the eyes of the IRS. It does not matter if a mistake you make is truly innocent; there is still a good chance that you will end up paying unpleasant fines and penalties and, in the worst case, a big mess. It is best to be timely and diligent in your filings.