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Requesting Penalty Waivers From the Florida Department of Revenue

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I am a tax specialist with over five years experience in state tax law.

Getting a Penalty Waiver

So, you got hit up for a penalty, and we’re not talking about $10—we’re talking about a big penalty. I can tell you this much, if your filing and payment history is awful you can forget about getting a waiver unless you’ve got a really good reason for one. And, depending on what agent reviews your request, you may still not get the waiver. Waivers can be requested by phone, in person, by mail, e-mail, or fax. Interest is never waived unless it was an issue that was caused by FDOR.

There are three things that are guaranteed to get you a waiver:

1. Natural Disasters

Usually, FDOR will post something on their website advising of extended deadlines (especially when it comes to Corporate Income Tax) due to a natural disaster. But as we know if Florida, flooding can occur in one county and be perfect beach weather in the county right next door. Usually, you can call in and request a waiver for a natural disaster and get it (because more than likely the agent would have known about it), rarely would you have to submit a written request for a waiver.

2. Illness or Death

If the owner (or person that handles the accounting) of the company falls sick or dies, then a waiver can be granted based on that. Also, if an immediate family member of the owner (or other person handling accounting) falls sick or dies, then a waiver can be granted for that as well. Keep in mind that this means immediate family members, like the passing of a parent, caring for a sick child, etc. This does not include the passing of your twice-removed cousin that you haven’t seen since grade school. And grandma can’t die twice. Yes, reasons for prior waiver requests are notated on your account.

3. FDOR at Fault

The e-Services site sometimes goes on the fritz at deadline time (as it has been known to do) causing you to file your return late. FDOR agents are usually advised of the situation and are instructed to waive all penalties caused by the system issue. If you were given bad advice by a DOR agent, you better pray that the agent notated your account so your claim stands. If the bad information is found notated on your account, then you'll get a guaranteed waiver! If not, then good luck with your waiver request. I’m not saying that you don’t have a chance but basically you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent and it’s kinda hard to do that when you can’t see what’s been notated on your account. If you ever doubt the information you receive from a DOR agent—as annoying as it is—then request to speak to another agent to see if you get the same answer, ask where the information can be found on the FDOR’s website or request for the information in writing.

Are waivers granted for other reasons? Sure, especially if you have a great filing and payment history. Some other reasons for waivers: Your store was robbed (accompany by police records), your bank account was frozen due to fraudulent activity (accompanied by a statement from your bank), etc. You can still ask for a waiver if you don’t have reasons like those mentioned, but it’s up to the FDOR agent’s discretion if they think your waiver request is a good one or not. Kinda like whether or not your story is good enough to get out of being issued a speeding ticket. And a heads up: “I was on vacation” will never be granted a waiver – a laugh by the agent, but not a waiver.

Exception: Reemployment Taxes

The redheaded stepchild of FDOR, this tax has its own special way for everything because it’s tied to the Federal Government. And even FDOR doesn’t want bad dealings with the Feds. With all other taxes, you can call in, ask for a waiver, and get a decision over the phone (sometimes—some agents will insist for you to submit something in writing). But for Reemployment Tax, you have to submit your request in writing (unless you get ahold of an agent that ignores procedures and there are handfuls out there). You can mail, fax, or e-mail the request, but it has to be in writing for ‘tracking and documentation purposes.' And because this tax is tied to the Federal Government it's a little tougher to get a waiver for reasons outside of the three listed above.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.