Procedures
627.1. Prerequisites to Filing an Application for Abatement.
627.2. Payment of Taxes Due.
627.3. Federal Change Abatements; State Change Abatements.
627.4. Timely Applications.
627.5. Abatement of Interest and Penalties.
627.6. Separate Applications.
627.7. Filing the Application for Abatement/Amended Return, Form CA-6.
627.8. The Abatement Process; Limitations on the Amount of a Refund Resulting from an Abatement.
627.9. Withdrawing Consent to Extend DOR's Review Time Beyond Six Months.
627.10. Appeal Requests.
627.11. Notification of Approval or Denial.
627.12. Appeals of Abatement Denials.
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An abatement is a reduction of a tax assessed by DOR or self‑assessed by the taxpayer when filing a return. Generally, abatement claims filed with DOR must be filed on Form CA-6, Application for Abatement - Amended Return. Certain individual taxpayers may be able to electronically file an application for abatement. Business taxpayers that are required to file their taxes electronically must also file amendments and abatement requests electronically. See TIR 04-30, TIR 05-22 and TIR 10-18 for more details.

DOR's Customer Service Bureau reviews requests for abatements of all state taxes administered by DOR except local property tax. Property tax abatement claims are filed with the city or town assessor's office.

627.1. Prerequisites To Filing an Application for Abatement

Two requirements must be met in order for an application for abatement to be valid. First, the required return must have been filed for the period stated on the application unless the abatement application is founded on the assertion that no return is required. Second, the application must be received by DOR or postmarked by United States mail within the latest applicable time limit of the following:[1]
 

1. Within three years from the date the return was filed (or, if the return was filed before the due date, within three years from the due date),

2. Within two years from the date the tax was assessed (the date printed on the Notice of Assessment) or deemed to be assessed (see TIR 01-5 and DD 08-1),

3. Within one year from the date the tax was paid,

4. Within two years of the date of DOR’s determination of a responsible person’s personal liability,

5. Where the taxpayer and the Commissioner have agreed to extend the period for assessment of a tax under G.L. c. 62C, § 27, within such agreed-upon extension of time for assessment of tax (see G.L. c. 62C, §37, TIR 93-11 and TIR 12-10),

6. Under G.L. c. 62C, § 30, within one year from the date of a final federal determination, including the acceptance of an amended federal return by the Internal Revenue Service (see AP 627.3), or

7. Under G.L. c. 62C, § 30A, within one year from the date of a final determination, including the acceptance of an amended return, by another United States state, territory or possession, or the Dominion of Canada or any Canadian province, where such tax was the basis for a credit claimed by a Massachusetts resident taxpayer under c. 62, § 6(a) (see AP 620).
 

Note:  The three-year time period stated in item 1, above, is not applicable where the statute of limitations for refund or abatement, as applicable, had expired prior to July 1, 2011. Under prior law, the three-year period for filing for an abatement of tax started on the original due date of the return without regard to any extension of time to file. See TIR 11-6.

627.2. Payment of Taxes Due

Tax payments are due when the return is required to be filed, regardless of any extension of time to file. In general, if a taxpayer disputes an assessment (or any portion thereof) by filing an application for abatement, a taxpayer is not obligated to pay the disputed amount while the matter is under consideration administratively within DOR, with the Appellate Tax Board or the Probate Court. In addition, involuntary collection activities will be stayed during the dispute period. Late‑pay penalties under G.L. c. 62C, § 33(c) will be waived on audit assessments only during the dispute period. Interest and applicable penalties will continue to accrue on any unpaid amounts, whether disputed or not.

If the taxpayer chooses to dispute an assessment (or any portion thereof) and not pay the disputed amount, the taxpayer retains his or her right to file an abatement claim provided that the claim is filed within three years of the date the return was filed or within two years of the assessment date. In cases where the three-year and two-year limitation periods have expired and a taxpayer wishes to file an abatement claim, any outstanding liability must be paid before the application for abatement is filed. If the full amount of tax liability is not paid, the Commissioner will consider an abatement only up to the amount of the partial payment. See 830 CMR 62C.37.1(3), G.L. c. 62C, § 32(e) and TIR 99-18.

627.3. Federal Change Abatements; State Change Abatements

If, as a result of a change in federal taxable income or federal tax credits, a taxpayer believes that a lesser tax was due the Commonwealth than was previously assessed, the taxpayer may file an abatement claim within one year of the date of the final federal determination including acceptance of an amended return. See AP 619, Reporting Changes in Federal Taxable Income, Federal Tax Credits, or Federal Taxable Estate, TIR 99-14 and 830 CMR 62C.30.1 for more information.  Federal change abatements are limited to those items changed in the federal determination.

If, as a result of a change in tax due to another United States or Canadian jurisdiction for which a credit was or may be claimed under G.L. c. 62, § 6(a), a personal income taxpayer believes that a lesser tax was due the Commonwealth than was previously assessed, the taxpayer may file an abatement claim within one year of the date of the notice of final determination by the other jurisdiction.  See AP 620 and 830 CMR 62C.30A.1.  State change abatements are limited to those items changed in the other jurisdiction’s determination.

A taxpayer affected by a federal or state change may choose to seek an abatement under the general abatement statute, G.L. c. 62C, § 37, or under the federal change statute, G.L. c. 62C, § 30, or state change statute, G.L. c. 62C, § 30A, as the case may be.  Limits as to time of filing and amount that may be abated differ according to the statute under which the taxpayer proceeds.

627.4. Timely Applications

An application for abatement must be received by DOR or be postmarked by the United States mail within the time limits explained in AP 627.1, above.  See G.L. c. 62C, § 33A, as amended.

627.5. Abatement of Interest and Penalties

Interest is charged on any tax that is not paid when due.  DOR has no authority to abate interest alone.  Interest may be adjusted only in relation to abatement of the underlying tax.

Penalties are imposed for failing to file a return on time or pay a tax when due.  Penalty charges will only be abated if the taxpayer can demonstrate reasonable cause for filing or paying late, or when DOR corrects payments which have been misapplied.  See AP 633 for more information on abatement of penalties.

627.6. Separate Applications

A taxpayer should file a separate application for abatement of each tax type for each taxable year.  A taxpayer may not refile an application for abatement on the same item of tax for a given tax period.  See 830 CMR 62C.37.1(4)(g) for more information.

All challenges to an assessment should be combined on a single application.  When a tax is paid more than once a year, e.g., with a monthly sales tax return, the taxpayer may combine all periods for that calendar year in one application.  A taxpayer must include with the application a statement of the amount of abatement requested for each period and, if different issues are raised for different periods, specify which issues relate to which periods.  Taxpayers required to file applications for abatement via WebFile for Business must individually file an application for each period.

627.7. Filing the Application for Abatement - Amended Return, Form CA-6

Those filing an abatement claim should file using the Application for Abatement - Amended Return, Form CA-6, or if eligible, file electronically at www.mass.gov/dor

Certain business taxpayers that are required to file their taxes electronically must also file amendments and abatement requests electronically. See TIR 04-30, TIR 05-22, and TIR 10-18 for more details.    

For more information please call the Customer Service Bureau at (617) 887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free in Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089 or consult the online Guide to Taxes at  www.mass.gov/dor.

627.8. The Abatement Process; Limitations on the Amount of a Refund Resulting from an Abatement

Applications for abatement are assigned in the order in which they are received.  Factors such as tax type, time of year, documentation provided, and the complexity of the issue will affect the length of time needed to fully research a claim.  A taxpayer should never file a duplicate copy of an abatement claim unless specifically asked to do so by DOR.  A taxpayer may check the status of a claim at any time by contacting the Customer Service Bureau at (617) 887-MDOR or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089.

A taxpayer must include all supporting information, documents, explanations, arguments and authorities that will reasonably enable the Commissioner to determine whether the applicant is entitled to the abatement requested.  If the application is based upon an amended return filed with the IRS, then a timely dated IRS final determination acceptance letter and a copy of the amended federal application is required upon submission.  An abatement application will not be considered complete until all such information has been received by the Department, and the application may be denied by the Department, without prejudice, if the taxpayer fails to provide information requested by the Department within 30 days of the date of the request.

Certain limitations apply to the amount of a refund resulting from an abatement. See TIR 04-3, TIR 11-6 and TIR 12-10.

627.9. Withdrawing Consent to Extend DOR's Review Time Beyond Six Months

Taxpayers who do not cross out the language in the signature section of Form CA-6 consent to extend DOR's review time of an application for abatement beyond six months.  If a taxpayer wishes to withdraw this consent after Form CA-6 is filed, he or she must request this withdrawal of consent by writing to the Customer Service Bureau.  The application will be deemed to be denied six months after the date Form CA-6 was filed or on the date of withdrawal, whichever is later.  See 627.12 below for information on appealing this deemed denial.  If consent to exceed the six month review time is withdrawn, DOR is not required to send notice stating that the claim has been denied.

627.10. Appeal Requests

Appeal requests are granted only if the taxpayer requests either a hearing or settlement consideration and if there is a possibility that a claim will be denied in full or in part.  A taxpayer will be entitled to an abatement hearing only if it has not already received a pre-assessment conference or, where such a conference has been held, if the taxpayer establishes that there is new factual information or new legal precedent that was not available to the taxpayer at the time of the pre-assessment conference or the taxpayer raises a new issue not considered at the pre-assessment conference.  Taxpayers may request an appeal as described on Form CA-6 and may be asked to complete additional applicable forms.  Generally, the Office of Appeals considers these requests and that office contacts the taxpayer.  See AP 628: Resolution of Disputes at the Office of Appeals for further details regarding this process.

If a taxpayer did not make an appeals request on the application for abatement, the taxpayer can make this request in writing on a Form DR-1, Appeals Request, to the Customer Service Bureau.  The Form DR-1 must be received before any formal determination has been made on the application for abatement.  See AP 628.

627.11. Notification of Approval or Denial

The taxpayer will be notified of approval, partial denial or full denial of the application for abatement. Partial approval and denial notices will contain an explanation of why the full abatement was not allowed.  Effective for interest accrued on an abatement on and after July 1, 2003, interest will be calculated from the later of the date the return was filed and full payment of tax was made thereon, or the date when the Commissioner will have received a completed and substantiated written abatement application together with any supplemental information requested by the Commissioner from the taxpayer in support of the application.  In a case in which the Commissioner has denied an abatement application based upon incomplete supporting information, no interest under G.L. c. 62C, § 40 shall begin to accrue upon any such claim which is appealed to the appellate tax board or to a probate court under G.L. c. 62C, § 39 before the date on which a decision on such claim on the merits is rendered by the board or court in favor of the taxpayer. 

If DOR approves the claim and determines that a refund is due, a check will be mailed for the correct amount plus any applicable interest calculated from the date of a fully substantiated application to the date of refund.  In general, the refund will be applied to other undisputed liabilities for which the taxpayer is responsible.  If an adjustment to an unpaid, undisputed liability is required, DOR will make the adjustment and notify the taxpayer of any remaining balance due.

627.12. Appeals of Abatement Denials

If a taxpayer receives a notice that an abatement claim is denied in whole or in part, no further review of the claim is available within DOR.  However, an appeal can be filed with the Appellate Tax Board (ATB) within 60 days of the notice of denial.  This appeal must be received by the Appellate Tax Board or be postmarked by the United States mail on or before the 60th day from the notice of denial.  Taxpayers whose claims are deemed denied after not consenting or withdrawing consent to extending DOR's review time beyond six months may appeal the denial to the ATB within six months of the deemed denial.  See AP 629 for information on filing an appeal with the Board.

DOR may deny an incomplete abatement application if the taxpayer fails to supply information requested by the Department within 30 days.  Following a denial of an unsubstantiated abatement application, the taxpayer may file a new, properly substantiated abatement application with the Customer Service Bureau of the Department within the statutory time limitations.  In the alternative, the taxpayer may appeal to the Appellate Tax Board or the Probate Court on the merits within the time limitations of G.L. c. 62C, § 39.  Any subsequent application for abatement must meet the time limitations for filing for an abatement without regard to the prior filing.

For more information call or write:

Massachusetts DOR
Customer Service Bureau
P.O. Box 7010
Boston, MA 02204

(617) 887-MDOR or call toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089
 



REFERENCES:
G.L. 62, § 6(a)
G.L. c. 62C, §§ 30, 30A, 31A, 32(e), 33(c), 33A, 36, 37, 39, 40
830 CMR 62C.30.1
830 CMR 62C.30A.1
830 CMR 62C.37.1(3)
830 CMR 62C.37.1(4)(g)
TIR 93-11
TIR 99-14
TIR 99-18
TIR 01-5
TIR 04-3
TIR 04-30  
TIR 05-22
TIR 10-18
TIR 11-6
TIR 12-10
AP 619, Reporting Changes in Federal Taxable Income, Federal Tax Credits, or Federal  Taxable Estate
AP 620, Reporting Changes in Tax Due to Another United States or Canadian Jurisdiction
AP 628, Resolution of Disputes at the Office of Appeals
AP 629, Appeals from Denial of Application for Abatement – Appellate Tax Board
AP 633, Guidelines for the Waiver and Abatement of Penalties 
Form CA-6, Application for Abatement – Amended Return
Form DR-1, Appeals Form

 

[1] Time limits differ for inheritance tax claims. Call the estate tax information line at (617) 887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free in MA at 1(800) 392-6089 for more information.