Lawyers Blaming Lawyers: A Trust Fund Tax Tale

Spizz-v.-United-StatesEmployers serve as tax collectors under the Internal Revenue Code: In addition to paying its own FICA and FUTA obligations, an employer must withhold FICA and income tax from its employees’ pay. See I.R.C. §§ 3102 (FICA “shall be collected by the employer of the taxpayer, by deducting the amount of the tax from the wages as and when paid”); 3402 (“every employer making payment of wages shall deduct and withhold upon such wages a tax determined in accordance with tables or computational procedures prescribed by the Secretary”).

For good measure, Congress included a mechanism to ensure compliance; if an employer fails to withhold and pay over the tax, responsible parties affiliated with the employer can be assessed with the trust fund recovery penalty under section 6672 of the Code, which makes these individuals liable if they willfully fail to assure that the taxes are paid.… Read More

Trust Fund Recovery Penalty: The Sixth Circuit Concludes that Responsible Parties Were Not Willful Due to Remedial Measures that Followed Late Deposits

shutterstock_176498321When an employer fails to withhold and pay over FICA and income taxes from employees’ wages, individuals associated with the business may be subject to liability for the employer’s tax obligations under section 6672(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, which imposes the trust fund recovery penalty. Specifically, “the officers or employees of the employer responsible for effectuating the collection and payment of trust-fund taxes who willfully fail to do so are made personally liable to a ‘penalty’ equal to the amount of the delinquent taxes.” Slodov v. United States, 436 U.S. 238, 244-45 (1978). Liability is therefore tied to two distinct requirements: First, the individual must be “responsible,” and second, he must act willfully.… Read More