I would recommend to file Form 843 with the IRS. This is the Abatement Form that, at times, can forgive certain penalties. The main question is whether you have a reason for filing late (i.e. illness, family illness where you were the care taker or disability). Without some substantive reason for filing late the Abatement Form would be pointless. I have been successful with many Abatement requests. However, each request was supported with substantiating documents. Go to the IRS website and search form 843, there is an instruction page that will explain how to complete the form: www.irs.gov
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As Tuella addressed, it depends on what the facts are, what substantiating documents you have to prove the facts, and how articulately you can cogently explain the details. Many people feel more comfortable having an experienced tax professional handle it, however there are people who handle it themselves as well.
Best of luck
There is NO attorney-client privilege based on this interaction. I am NOT your attorney. Further, everything we both just wrote is publicly available on the internet and would be the same as if we were talking in a crowded restaurant. If you need legal assistance use Avvo to find a local attorney in your jurisdiction that you feel can best represent your interests as a zealous advocate. My experience is in corporate tax, white collar criminal defense, partnership tax, and tax controversy/litigation. If you're being audited by the IRS or state taxing authority, or you are taking an unusually risky tax position on a return, that is the kind of thing you should have experienced counsel on your side and we can set up an initial consultation. If you have a family law, debt collection, violent crime sort of issue then I do not handle that. Do not contact me for an initial consultation on non-tax matters.
Tax penalties can be waived. Interest normally cannot. File form 843 with the facts but take a moment beforehand to review the criteria for waiving the penalty, then fill out the form to make sure you address each of the specific criteria.
Evan A. Nielsen
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Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.