All responsible persons (usually the owner of the business) have personal liability for payroll taxes, and excuses are rarely accepted. For example, you can’t claim you have been duped by your bookkeeper, because they don’t have personal liability. Charles Colosimo found this out the hard way when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to take his side after he claimed his bookkeeper, Andrew Gillaspey, cheated the firm in a famous case.
It doesn’t matter if you have no knowledge that the IRS has not been paid; you can still be liable. This is because you are assumed to have the authority to take charge of payroll taxes, so if you are an absentee business owner, it is important to keep a closer eye on your business affairs to ensure your company’s tax obligations are being met.