Appeals Process in Brief
Depending upon the type of appeal, taxpayers generally may request a conference (for pre-assessment appeals) or a hearing (for post-assessment appeals). Conferences and hearings are conducted informally either in-person or by telephone. Taxpayers may choose to forego a conference or hearing and receive a determination from the Office of Appeals based solely upon submitted documentation. Taxpayers may also request settlement consideration with the Office of Appeals.
Initiating the Appeals Process
Taxpayers who wish to request a conference and/or settlement consideration for a proposed assessment must complete Form DR-1: Office of Appeals Form and check the appropriate boxes. Taxpayers may be required to complete Form B-37: Special Consent Extending the Time for Assessment of Taxes, when initiating the appeals process for a proposed assessment.
Taxpayers requesting a hearing for an additional assessment or an amended return must complete an Application for Abatement/Amended Return and fill in the oval for statutory hearing. Taxpayers who wish to request settlement consideration for their additional assessment or amended return must also complete Form DR-1: Office of Appeals Form and check the indicated boxes.
Taxpayers may choose to forego the conference or hearing process and receive a determination from the Office of Appeals based solely upon the submitted forms and documentation. Time limitations apply for the filing of all appeals.
The Department of Revenue also offers an Early Mediation Program to help resolve disputes involving $250,000 or more in tax at the earliest possible stage after the audit is completed.
Conference and Hearing Basics
Conferences and hearings are informal and may be conducted in-person or by telephone. Taxpayers may represent themselves or retain someone else to represent them. Taxpayers must submit Form M-2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative if they choose to have a representative handle their appeal.
During the conference or hearing, taxpayers or their designated representative will have the opportunity to present their case. The appeals officers conducting the conference or hearing may ask questions and/or request additional documentation. Appeals officers do not make final determinations at the conference or hearing; that will occur after a complete review of all information and documentation. Sometimes, taxpayers may choose to negotiate a settlement with the Office of Appeals.
Initiating Settlement of a Tax Dispute
Taxpayers generally may negotiate a settlement with the Office of Appeals at any time during the appeals process, regardless of whether they have requested a conference or hearing. To request settlement consideration, taxpayers must check the indicated box on Form DR-1: Office of Appeals Form and propose a settlement amount or percentage. The Office of Appeals may accept, reject, or make a counteroffer to the taxpayers’ proposal. The Office of Appeals may require taxpayers to complete Form B-37: Special Consent Extending the Time for Assessment of Taxes when initiating settlement for a proposed assessment.
Appealing a Decision of the Office of Appeals
Taxpayers disagreeing with the final determination from the Office of Appeals may have further appeal options. If the underlying appeal was based upon a proposed assessment, taxpayers may generally file an Application for Abatement/Amended Return once they receive a final assessment. If the underlying appeal was based upon a final assessment or amended return, taxpayers may generally file for further review with the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board upon the receipt of a Notice of Abatement Determination from the Department of Revenue’s Customer Service Bureau.
Taxpayers whose cases are resolved by entering into settlement agreements with the Department of Revenue may not appeal further.
Inability to Pay
The Office of Appeals cannot consider cases based solely on your inability to pay. These issues are handled through the Department of Revenue’s Collections Bureau.