IRS Audit Penalties: What Happens if You Get Audited & Fail?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposes penalties on individuals and businesses who fail to comply with federal tax laws. These penalties can significantly impact your financial standing and must be avoided or dealt with effectively. This article will explain the various types of IRS penalties and their consequences and guide how to overcome them.

Types of IRS Penalties

There are several types of IRS penalties, including:

Failure to File Penalty

This penalty is imposed when you fail to file your tax return by the due date. The disadvantage is 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month that the return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.

If you owe taxes but fail to pay them by the due date, you may be subject to a failure to pay the penalty. The penalty is 0.5% of the unpaid taxes for each month that the balance remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.

Accuracy-Related Penalty

This penalty is imposed when you understate your tax liability or overstate your tax credits or deductions. The accuracy-related penalty is 20% of the amount of tax understated.

Civil Fraud Penalty

The civil fraud penalty is imposed when the IRS determines that an individual or business has engaged in fraudulent activity. The disadvantage is 75% of the underpaid tax.

Consequences of IRS Penalties

IRS penalties can have severe consequences, including wage garnishment, bank levies, tax liens, and seizure of assets. In addition, penalties and interest can add up quickly, significantly increasing the amount owed.

Overcoming IRS Penalties

The best way to overcome IRS penalties is to comply with federal tax laws and file your tax returns on time. If you have already been assessed penalties, there are several options available to reduce or eliminate them:

Penalty Abatement

Penalty abatement is a process by which the IRS may cancel or reduce penalties if there is a reasonable cause for failing to file or pay taxes on time. Examples of reasonable causes include serious illness, death of a spouse or family member, or natural disaster.

Installment Agreements

If you are unable to pay the full amount owed, you may be eligible for an installment agreement. This allows you to make monthly payments over an extended period of time.

Offer in Compromise

An offer in compromise is a settlement agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS, and it allows the taxpayer to pay a reduced amount to resolve the tax debt.


IRS penalties can have serious consequences and must be avoided or effectively dealt with. By understanding the various types of penalties, their consequences, and available options for resolving them, you can take the necessary steps to protect your financial standing. If you have any questions or need assistance with IRS penalties, it is recommended that you seek the guidance of a professional tax advisor.

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