Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It is petitioner's position that the accuracy-related penalties at issue "should be waived." In support of that position, petitioner asserts:
During the period under question I worked as a contractual employee with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Because I was a contractual employee, IMF provided a W2 to me but did not withhold any federal income or social security (FICA) taxes. * * *
For tax years 2005 and 2006, I calculated my own taxes using the computer program TurboTax. I even paid extra for the opportunity to specifically ask TurboTax professionals if FICA taxes were included in the tax computations they did for me. These representatives assured me that all the taxes were included (Exhibit A).
* * * Although I believed that I had paid all taxes due, because I had never filed in this capacity (self-employed), I was a little uncertain about whether TurboTax's calculations included the self employment taxes, so I entered the IRS settlement initiative in January, 2007.
As it turned out, TurboTax representatives were wrong; the social security taxes were not included in the tax computations they did for me. Then, I engaged a tax specialist to examine and re-calculate my 2005 and 2006 income tax returns and determine any additional taxes due.
* * * I then withdrew from the [IRS] settlement initiative and filed my amended returns along with payment of taxes and interest due. This resulted in total payments of $32,389 plus $1,808 interest for 2005 and $52,950 plus $828 interest for 2006.
Because I had initiated contact with the IRS and voluntarily come forward with the problem, I respectfully requested that the IRS waive any additional penalties in conjunction with the underpayments. The IRS, despite my complete cooperation with all their information demands, refused my request and insisted on payment of penalties of $2,435.40 for 2005 and $3,655.40 [sic] for 2006.
According to I.R.C. § 6664(c) the accuracy related penalty "will not apply where the taxpayer can show reasonable cause for the understatement and action in good faith". I voluntarily made the effort to comply with the tax laws; and paid all my federal taxes and interest due. I acted in good faith throughout this process and believe that I had reasonable cause for my understatement and actions.
We turn first to petitioner's claim that he "had reasonable cause" within the meaning of § 6664(c)(1) for his respective underpayments for his taxable years 2005 and 2006 because he relied on TurboTax. At the respective times petitioner filed his 2005 return and his 2006 return he knew that he was responsible for self-employment tax. Nonetheless, neither his 2005 return nor his 2006 return reported any self-employment tax. On the record before us, we reject petitioner's claimed reliance on TurboTax.
We turn next to petitioner's claim that he "had reasonable cause" within the meaning of § 6664(c)(1) for his respective underpayments for his taxable years 2005 and 2006 because he relied on certain unidentified "TurboTax experts". We do not find credible petitioner's claim that any such "experts" told him that self-employment tax was included in the computation of petitioner's tax in his 2006 return when that return itself did not report any self-employment tax. On the record before us, we reject petitioner's claimed reliance on certain unidentified "TurboTax experts". ...
On the record before us, we find that petitioner has failed to carry his burden of establishing that there was reasonable cause for, and that he acted in good faith with respect to, any portion of the underpayment for each of his taxable years 2005 and 2006. ...
Fn.15: We shall address briefly petitioner's contention that the IRS granted "favorable treatment" in a case involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, which petitioner described as "incredibly similar" to the instant case. According to petitioner, "there should not be different, or favorable rules for the well-connected". The record in this case does not establish any facts relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. In any event, those facts would be irrelevant to our resolution of the issue presented here. Regardless of the facts and circumstances relating to the case to which petitioner refers involving U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, petitioner is required to establish on the basis of the facts and circumstances that are established by the record in his own case that there was reasonable cause for, and that he acted in good faith with respect to, the underpayment for each of his taxable years 2005 and 2006 that is attributable to his failure to report self-employment tax.
Update #1: The Tax Court, Tim Geithner, and Jack Webb
- Barbara Hollingsworth (Washington Examiner), ‘Tax-Cheat Tim’ Revisited: Court Calls Geithner Excuse ‘Not Credible’
- Joe Kristan (Tax Update), The Geithner Rule Only Applies to Geithner
- Caleb Newquist (Going Concern), For the Last Time, Only Tim Geithner Can Blame TurboTax and Get Away with It
- Peter Pappas (Tax Lawyer's Blog), Geithner Tax Defense Doesn’t Work for the Small People