by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Willful Failure to Withhold Taxes

§ 6.07.08
Key point 6-07.08. Church board members who have authority to sign checks or make financial decisions on behalf of a church may be personally liable for a willful failure by the church to withhold federal payroll taxes, or to deposit or pay over withheld taxes to the IRS.

The officers and directors of a church or other nonprofit organization can be personally liable for the amount of payroll taxes that are not withheld or paid over to the government. Section 6672 of the tax code specifies that

any person required to collect, truthfully account for, and pay over any [income tax or FICA tax] who willfully fails to collect such tax, or truthfully account for and pay over such tax, or willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any such tax or the payment thereof, shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be liable for a penalty equal to the total amount of the tax evaded, ...

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