BEFORE THE UTAH STATE TAX COMMISSION
Petitioners, : FINDINGS OF
: CONCLUSIONS OF LAW,
v. : AND FINAL DECISION
COLLECTION DIVISION OF THE : Appeal No. 89-1248
UTAH STATE TAX COMMISSION, :
: Account No. XXXXX
STATEMENT OF CASE
This matter came before the Utah State Tax Commission for a formal hearing on XXXXX. Joseph G. Linford, Presiding Officer, heard the matter for and on behalf of the Commission. Present and representing the Petitioners were XXXXX, Attorney at Law, and XXXXX.
Based upon the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, the Tax Commission hereby makes its:
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The tax in question is individual income tax.
2. The periods in question are the tax years XXXXX through XXXXX.
3. For approximately 18 months in XXXXX and XXXXX, Petitioner, XXXXX, was unemployed and had no regular income. In XXXXX, Petitioner was diagnosed as having cancer.
At this time, Petitioner had no medical insurance and his life insurance had lapsed. In XXXXX, Petitioner obtained employment as XXXXX of XXXXX for XXXXX. Since that time, he has begun to recoup his losses and to pay his accumulated debts. Petitioner states that he had filed extensions for each of the years in question. A check of Tax Commission records, however, shows an extension filed only for the XXXXX tax year. Petitioner also submitted his copies of extensions that he alleged were filed for the XXXXX, XXXXX, and XXXXX tax years. Petitioner states that he had no intention to avoid the payment of taxes, but merely wanted to postpone payment until he could recover from losses incurred during his unemployment. Petitioners have timely paid taxes for the years XXXXX and XXXXX, and have now paid the entire tax amount due for the years in question including interest up to the time of payment. Petitioners now request waiver of the penalties assessed on their account for the years in question.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The Tax Commission is granted the authority to waive, reduce, or compromise penalties and interest upon a showing of reasonable cause. (Utah Code Ann. §59-1-401(8).)
DECISION AND ORDER
The Tax Commission is not insensitive to Petitioners' plight and the difficulty encountered by them in making timely payment of the tax amount in question. However, an inability to pay is not sufficient reasonable cause under the law for waiver of the penalty assessment. The reason for this is simple. If inability to pay were allowed as reasonable cause for waiver of penalty and interest, the Tax Commission would undoubtedly experience a multitude of taxpayers filing and paying their taxes late (or not at all) because of inability to pay. It would be very easy for taxpayers to be "unable to pay" their taxes if there were no compulsion from the state in order to make payment of taxes at least an equal priority with a taxpayer's other financial obligations. Without passing judgment as to whether this is the case here, the Commission must, nevertheless, apply the standard uniformly and equally to all taxpayers. This points out the essential purpose of the assessment of penalties which is not so much a punishment for delinquent filing and payment of taxes as it is an incentive to encourage timely filing and payment. In this case, the facts are clear that Petitioners were very late in paying their income taxes for the years in question even after gaining employment in XXXXX. Under these circumstances, even if extensions were filed, they would have been of no affect since Petitioners' payment of the taxes in question came well after the expiration of any extension period.
Based upon the foregoing, the Tax Commission finds that sufficient cause has not been shown which would justify a waiver of the penalty associated With the tax years XXXXX through XXXXX. It is so ordered.
DATED this 19th day of October, 1990.
BY ORDER OF THE UTAH STATE TAX COMMISSION.
R. H. Hansen Roger O. Tew
Joe B. Pacheco G. Blaine Davis