Trust Fund Designation Rules


Because a taxpayer may direct the application of a voluntary payment to the IRS to whatever type of liability the taxpayer chooses, <175 persons who might be subject to the Code Section 6672 penalty should have the taxpayer give specific written <176 instructions at or before the time of payment to the IRS to apply the voluntary payments to the trust fund portion of the liability. Unless a specific designation is made regarding application of the payment, the IRS will consider any payment on a corporate account to represent payment of the employer portions of the liability (including assessed penalties and interest), <177 will allocate the payment to non-trust fund taxes, and will apply only the remaining balance of the payment (if any) to the trust fund portion of the liability, thus preserving its 100 percent remedy against responsible
persons. It should be noted that no right of designation is recognized when an involuntary payment is made, <178 and the IRS policy with regard to such payments is to allocate the payment to the non-trust fund taxes. <179

175/ Rev. Rul. 79-284, 1979-2 C.B. 83 (voluntary payments will be applied as designated, while undesignated payments will be applied "in a manner serving the best interest of the Service"); Muntwyler v. United States, 703 F.2d 1030, 1032 (7th Cir. 1983); O'Dell v. United States, 326 F.2d 451, 456 (10th Cir. 1964); In re State Mechanical, Inc., 84-2 U.S.T.C. para. 9880 (Bankr. W.D. Wash. 1984).

176/ See Kinnie v. United States, 994 F.2d 279 (6th Cir. 1993) (accountant's oral direction to IRS that payment was to be applied entirely to trust fund portion of payroll taxes was not effective and court upheld IRS allocation of payment 50 percent to trust fund portion and 50 percent to non-trust fund portion). See also White v. United States, No. 96-814T (Fed. Cl. April 19, 1999), where the Court of Federal Claims held that although a taxpayer may direct the application of a voluntary payment to any tax liability, the taxpayer's ambiguous notations on checks sent to the IRS did not constitute specific written instructions to apply the payments to unpaid employment tax liabilities rather than to penalties and interest. In addition, the fact that the first payment was of the exact amount of employment tax due did not put the IRS on notice that the payment was for employment tax liabilities and not for accrued penalties and interest.

177/ I.R.M., 56(18)3.1, Employer (Corporate) Payments (11-21-89); see, e.g., Sotir v. United States, 978 F.2d 29 (1st Cir. 1992); Kinnie v. United States, 994 F.2d 279 (6th Cir. 1993); Muntwyler v. United States, 703 F.2d 1030, 1032 (7th Cir. 1983); Notaro v. United States, 93-1 U.S.T.C. para. 50,030 (N.D. Ill. 1992); Anderson v. United States, 497 F. Supp. 563, 565 (E.D. Wis. 1980).

178/ In re State Mechanical, Inc., 84-2 U.S.T.C. para. 9880 (Bankr. W.D. Wash. 1984) (characterizing payments received from a bankruptcy estate as involuntary payments because a court order specifically directed the trustee to disburse the funds to the IRS, and the trustee in bankruptcy therefore could not designate the manner in which the IRS could designate the payments); Tidewater Plumbing & Heating, Inc. v. United States, 82-1 U.S.T.C. para. 9238 (D. Md. 1981) (stating that the definition of a voluntary payment should not be extended beyond reasonable bounds, that the intent of Code Section 6672 should not be defeated by taxpayer manipulation of the application of a partial payment unless it clearly appears that the payment is a voluntary one, and classifying a payment to the government arising from a settlement as an involuntary payment which the taxpayer was not entitled to designate).

179/ I.R.M. Section 1218, Policies of the IRS Handbook, Section P-5- 60; Rev. Rul. 79-284, 1979-2 C.B. 83; see, e.g., Muntwyler v. United States, 703 F.2d 1030, 1032 (7th Cir. 1983).

FULL TEXT
26 CFR 1.163-1: Interest deduction in general. (Also Section 6601; 301.6601-1.) Partial payment of deficiencies; allocation to tax, penalty, and interest. Voluntary partial payments of assessed tax, penalty, and interest will be applied to withheld employment taxes and collected excise taxes as designated by the taxpayer. If no designation is made, the payments will be allocated to tax, penalty, and interest in a manner serving the best interest of the Service. Rev. Rul. 73-305 modified.

REV. RUL. 79-284

FACTS

Rev. Rul. 73-305, 1973-2 C.B. 43, holds that partial payments of assessed tax, penalty, and interest are to be applied as the taxpayer designates. If the taxpayer fails to give specific instructions as to the application of the partial payment voluntarily tendered, the amount of such payment will be applied by the Service to tax, penalty, and interest, in that order, for the earliest period, then to tax, penalty, and interest, in that order, for the next succeeding period, until the payment is absorbed. Rev. Rul. 73-305 further states, however, that it is not applicable to Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Taxes, withheld employment taxes and collected excise taxes.

HOLDING

Rev. Rul. 73-305 applies to withheld employment taxes and collected excise taxes where the taxpayer provides specific written instructions for the application of a voluntary partial payment. If no designation is made by the taxpayer, the Internal Revenue Service will allocate partial payments of withheld employment taxes and collected excise taxes to tax, penalty, or interest in a manner serving its best interest.

EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS

Rev. Rul. 73-305 is modified.
END RULING

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