The first-time penalty abatement (FTA) waiver is an administrative waiver that the IRS may grant to relieve taxpayers from failure-to-file, failure-to-pay, and failure-to-deposit penalties if certain criteria are met. The policy behind this procedure is to reward taxpayers for having a clean compliance history; everyone is entitled to one mistake. Individuals and businesses may request FTA for any failure-to-file, failure-to-pay, or failure-to-deposit penalty; First Time IRS Tax Penalty Abatement does not apply to other types of penalties such as the accuracy-related penalty.


The most complicated part of requesting FTA is determining whether you qualify. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. FTA applies only to certain penalties and certain returns.
  • For individual taxpayers, FTA is available for two of the most common penalties: failure to file and failure to pay
  • For business and payroll taxpayers, FTA applies to the failure to file, failure to pay and/or the failure to deposit penalties. S corporation and partnership late-filing penalties also qualify for FTA.
  • Estate and gift tax returns don’t qualify for first-time IRS Penalty Abatement.

FTA doesn’t apply to the estimated tax and accuracy penalties. Accuracy penalties are based on the specific facts and circumstances for each person or business and each tax year or period. However, similar to the spirit of FTA, accuracy penalty responses often carry more weight with the IRS if you have a proven track record of filing accurate returns on time and you made a good-faith effort to file accurately

  1. To qualify for first-time IRS Penalty Abatement, you must meet the clean compliance criteria rules.

You must have a clean three-year penalty history. To qualify for FTA, you can’t have any penalties of a “significant” amount in the past three years on the same type of tax return. The IRS doesn’t publicly define significant amount, but, in practice, the IRS has considered penalty amounts of $1 or more as significant. The estimated tax penalty is an exception and wouldn’t disqualify you from receiving FTA. Prior penalties that the IRS abated for cause also don’t disqualify you from FTA.

You must have filed all required returns. And, if you owe, you must be current on your payment arrangement with the IRS.