General Rules

Any person aggrieved by the assessment of a tax may apply in writing to the commissioner, on a form approved by her, for an abatement of such tax. The abatement application must be filed within the time prescribed by law.

Examples of abatements filed:

  • after filing a tax return, a taxpayer discovers that he or she omitted certain deductions, or overstated income and thus overpaid taxes;
  • after filing a tax return late and incurring late file penalties, a taxpayer can demonstrate that the late filing was due to reasonable cause;
  • a taxpayer wishes to dispute an additional tax that was assessed as a result of a DOR audit.

The abatement of late interest is not discretionary and DOR does not have the authority to abate interest accrued on unpaid or late tax. Interest can be reduced only as a result of a tax that is being abated, or if the amount of interest charges was miscalculated.

Chapter 68 of the Acts of 2011 - Applications for Abatements Filed on or After July 1, 2011:
This Act made statutory changes applicable to requests for refund and applications for abatement filed on or after July 1, 2011; these amendments, however, do not apply with respect to tax periods where the statute of limitations for refund or abatement, as applicable, had expired prior to July 1, 2011.

Requests for abatements may be submitted in writing at any time:

  • within 3 years from the date of filing the return or due date, whichever is later,
  • within 2 years from the date the tax was assessed or deemed to be assessed, or
  • within 1 year from the date that the tax was paid, whichever is later.

Limitations on the Amount of a Refund Resulting from an Abatement:
Where a refund or credit results from an abatement, the amount of such refund or credit is limited to the amount paid, or deemed paid pursuant to section 79, within 3 years of the date that the application for abatement is filed, taking into account any extension of time for filing the return.

If the taxpayer has filed a tax return and has filed an application for abatement within the next three years, the refund or credit amount is measured by and limited to the tax paid within three years before the taxpayer filed the application for abatement, plus any extension of time the taxpayer had for filing the tax return. Tax returns filed or tax payments made before the prescribed due date (determined without regard to any extension of time to file the return) are deemed filed or paid on the prescribed due date. 

If the three-year period for filing an application for abatement has expired, and an application for abatement is filed within two years of an assessment, the Commissioner may grant an abatement up to the amount of that assessment. If the time for filing an abatement application has otherwise expired and an application for abatement is filed within one year of a payment of a portion of an assessment, the Commissioner may grant an abatement up to the amount of the payment.

Unsubstantiated Abatement Applications Filed on or after July 1, 2003:
A taxpayer filing an abatement application is required to 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. The abatement application is not considered complete until all such information has been received by the Department, and may be denied by the Department, without prejudice, if the taxpayer fails to provide information requested by the Department within thirty (30) days from the date of the request. In that situation, the taxpayer will be notified that the abatement is being denied based on lack of sufficient information.

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 or, in the alternative, appeal to the Appellate Tax Board or the probate court on the merits within the time limitations of G.L. c. 62C, Section 39.

Note: Any subsequent application for abatement must be filed within the time limitations of G.L. c. 62C, Section 37 without regard to the prior filing.

A second filing of an abatement application will not be acted upon by the Department if:

  • the application does not contain information previously requested by the Department; or
  • the application contains the same information submitted with the prior filing without additional information; or
  • the application is filed after the taxpayer has appealed to the Appellate Tax Board or Probate Court.

Collection Activity on Tax, Interest or Penalties in Dispute: 
Taxpayers generally are not obligated to pay and will not be subject to involuntary collection activities on tax, interest or penalties that are in dispute while abatement applications are under consideration, or while any denial of an abatement claim is on appeal at the Appellate Tax Board. However, interest, and in some cases penalties, will accrue on any unpaid amount for which taxpayers are ultimately held responsible. Please note that the statute of limitations on collections will be suspended during the appeal process. Therefore, taxpayers may wish to pay amounts they are disputing to stop the accrual of interest and penalties. A refund, with interest, will be issued if the abatement is ultimately approved or the taxpayer has prevailed in the administrative appeal process, and the assessment has been paid. 

Checklist Instructions for Filing Applications for Abatements and Amended Returns

  • Enter legal name(s) of taxpayer(s), last name followed by first. If a business, enter full legal name. If the original return was filed under a different name from the one currently used, enter both names;
  • Enter the federal social security number(s) or federal identification number(s) of the taxpayer listed on the original return;
  • Enter present mailing address. Fill in oval if your address has changed since original filing;
  • Specify the tax form originally filed, e.g., resident personal; fiduciary, Sales/Use, Withholding, Domestic corporate excise, etc.;
  • Indicate whether the amended filing is a result of a Federal Change;
  • Fill in appropriate ovals if requesting a conference, hearing or settlement consideration;
  • State the issues involved for this application, i.e., increase in tax, decrease in tax, penalty dispute. Provide a brief yet clear and complete explanation of why the abatement is being requested. Include all facts and, if possible, any relevant statutory references;
  • Include Line Item Information for each tax period(s);
  • Attach any relevant documents to substantiate your claim (see specific issues);
  • Verify that all forms are properly signed and dated;
  • Fill in oval if you appoint an individual(s) as attorney(s)-in-fact to represent you before any office of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for the tax period(s) on this claim;

Note: No abatement can be considered if an original return has not been filed.

What Forms to File

Massachusetts Form CA-6, Application for Abatement/Amended Tax Return (PDF), should be filed:

  • to report any decrease in tax;
  • to report any increase in tax. Full payment should be made with the filing of the amended return;
  • to report any decrease in tax resulting from a federal income tax change where a taxpayer believes that a lesser tax was due the Commonwealth than was previously due. This applies to cases where a taxpayer has been audited by the Internal Revenue Service and where a taxpayer files an amended return with the IRS. For further information, see Chapter 485 of the Acts of 1998;
  • to report any increase in tax due resulting from a federal income tax change where the federal taxable income is finally determined by the federal government. This applies to cases where a taxpayer has been audited by the Internal Revenue Service and where a taxpayer files an amended return with the IRS. Full payment should be made with the filing of the amended return. For further information, see Chapter 485 of the Acts of 1998; or
  • to request a waiver of penalties due to reasonable cause.

Abatement Application:

Amendments and Abatements as of September 1, 2003:
Employers, operators and vendors with liabilities over the $10,000 threshold must file amendments and abatement requests (currently both Form CA-6) for these taxes by electronic means. Also see TIR 03-11, Expansion of Mandatory Electronic Filing, below.

Revised Form CA-6 Replaces Earlier Forms:
Form CA-6, revised in May 2012, can be used for all tax types and replaces earlier forms such as 33X, 355X, 355FC, ST-9-AM, etc.

Do not file a Massachusetts Form CA-6, Application for Abatement/Amended Tax Return, for the following processing/posting problems:

  • misapplied payments;
  • lost checks;
  • carry forwards not applied to the following year.

Where to File

File online:
Individual Income Tax Web Abatement

Mail claims to:
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Customer Service Bureau, PO Box 7031
Boston, MA 02204

Drop off claims at any DOR district office:

Boston19 Staniford Street (Hurley Building)
Boston, MA 02204
Fall River218 S. Main Street
Fall River, MA 02721
Hyannis60 Perseverance Way
Hyannis, MA 0260
Pittsfield333 East Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Springfield436 Dwight Street
Springfield, MA 01103
Worcester40 Southbridge Street
Worcester, 01608

For assistance in filling out a claim or to inquire about an existing claim:

  • Call Customer Service Bureau at 617-887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free in Massachusetts at 800-392-6089, or
  • Write to Customer Service Bureau, PO Box 7010, Boston, 02204.

When to File

Massachusetts requires that a an abatement application  be received by DOR or be postmarked by the United States mail within the prescribed time limits. See Statute of Limitations.

Note: If the Commissioner and the taxpayer have agreed to extend the period for assessment of a tax pursuant to Section 27 of Chapter 62C, the deadline for filing an application for abatement of such tax extends to the end of the agreed extended period.

Two-Year Statute of Limitations Period:
Effective immediately, the two-year statute of limitations period begins to run from the date which is printed on the Notice of Assessment form as the "Notice Date." The date(s) which appears in the Notice of Assessment column headed "Assessment Date" will no longer be the date(s) from which the two-year statute begins to run, but will still be considered the date(s) upon which the tax was actually assessed for all other purposes. 

Unpaid Taxes Not Warranting Collection

The Commissioner is authorized to abate the unpaid portion of the assessment of any tax or any liability if: 

  1. the amount due does not exceed fifty dollars ($50); and
  2. the commissioner determines, under uniform rules prescribed by him that the administration and collection costs involved would not warrant collection of the amount due.

Massachusetts References: