Late last summer, hundreds of colleges and universities began receiving notices of proposed fines from the Internal Revenue Service for filing Forms 1098-T, Tuition Statement, for 2012 with missing or incorrect taxpayer identification numbers (TINs). Similar notices had appeared for the first time a year earlier. The IRS eventually announced that all fines for the 2011 tax year would be waived.
For colleges and universities that received 2012 fines, most are still awaiting an IRS decision on their requests for a waiver. Many institutions have received official notification from the IRS that 2011 fines have been waived, but a significant number still have not. (Note that, in many cases, the IRS waives fines related to Form 1098-T but the institution must pay fines related to other filing requirements—such as Forms 1099 and W-2—that were included in the original notice.)
Some IRS enforcement personnel seem to have been applying standards requiring documentation of efforts to correct deficiencies and that personalized letters were sent to affected students. These standards, however, do not apply to 1098-Ts but are applicable to forms subject to backup withholding. We have been told that IRS enforcement officials now realize this was inappropriate and will reopen cases where the incorrect standard was used.
How Can You Help?
NACUBO continues work to resolve the issue with the IRS and secure another blanket waiver for campuses. We have also brought our concerns to the attention of key staff members on Capitol Hill. NACUBO members can help by informing us of IRS actions. While we don't need to know about routine correspondence, such as computer-generated letters saying 60 more days are needed to review your waiver request, NACUBO staff would like to know about:
- Notices turning down a request for waiver of fines for missing or incorrect TINs on 1098-Ts (not 1099s or W-2s).
- Demands for payment of fines related to 1098-Ts for either 2011 or 2012.
- Debt offsets or asset seizures.
Please send information and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member contacts with representatives in Congress will bolster our efforts. We encourage you to work with campus government relations officials to explain your situation and ask for help in getting the IRS to once again issue a blanket waiver to colleges and universities. You may find this NACUBO statement helpful, along with other NACUBO resources on this topic. Talking points might include:
- Schools are required to file a 1098-T without a TIN if the student does not provide one.
- Schools do not have access, by statute, to the IRS TIN-matching program to check for name/number mismatches.
- Forms 1098-T for 2012 were filed long before the IRS sent fine notices for 2011, so there is no practical difference between the two years.
Contact Liz Clark, NACUBO's director of congressional relations, at 202.861.2553 with questions about Hill contacts. Please share with us the names of individuals you have contacted by sending a note to Liz at the email address above.