Ann Murphy / Jeffrey Busha
Revenue Commissioner Frederick A. Laskey today named Joseph J. McDermott to become the new Taxpayer Advocate for the Department of Revenue and named Patricia Campbell Malone as Deputy Taxpayer Advocate. Laskey created these positions to ensure that taxpayers' dealings with the DOR are well served. The Taxpayer Advocates will report directly to Commissioner Laskey, and will allow taxpayers to obtain executive level attention if they are having difficulties within the DOR system.
"This is another step toward creating a better environment at DOR for taxpayers and tax practitioners. Taxpayers will be able to have their concerns aired in a professional and timely manner. There will be both follow-through and follow-up to each case under the new Taxpayer Advocates," said Laskey.
Laskey also said that the naming of Taxpayer Advocates follows last week's announcement of the elimination of six DOR fees for businesses and taxpayers.
"This continues the Cellucci-Swift administration's efforts to make life easier for taxpayers," he said.
McDermott has been at DOR for the past 12 years, most recently as Director of the agency's Problem Resolution Office. Prior to becoming Director of PRO he supervised the implementation of DOR's 1993 limited Tax Amnesty program. He has also supervised the Department's Certificate of Good Standing Unit. He is a graduate of Boston State College and resides in Walpole.
"After carefully considering many applicants inside and outside of DOR, Joe came out on top for his knowledge of tax laws and for his experience in helping taxpayers over the years. It's great to have him on board as the first Taxpayer Advocate," he added.
The new office was also welcome outside of DOR, in the tax practitioner community. "Joe McDermott has always been effective at cutting through red tape to reach the right result both for individual taxpayers and the Commonwealth. The new position reporting directly to the Commissioner and the new resources at Joe's disposal should give him an opportunity to streamline DOR procedures more systematically and to bring to the surface areas of hardship that need reform," said Joseph Donovan, Northeast Region Leader of State Tax Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Malone most recently held the position of judicial law clerk for the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. She is a graduate of State University of New York at Binghamton, the University of Queensland, Australia, and Northeastern University School of Law. She has also worked for New York state government, in the senate transportation committee and in the senate majority leader's office. She resides in Roslindale.
"With these two important positions filled, we have made significant progress in making DOR more user-friendly. We want to ensure taxpayers that we are treating them in a fair and even handed manner," Laskey said.
"These developments are definitely good news for Massachusetts taxpayers. On the one hand, Mr. McDermott is someone who understands the Department and who can get things done. On the other, Ms. Malone is a newcomer who can bring a fresh perspective to the issues that come up. It sounds like a great team," said tax attorney Ed Liptak, manager with the state and local tax group of Arthur Andersen.
"By creating the Taxpayer Advocate Office, Commissioner Laskey is signaling to DOR employees and taxpayers alike that he wants the agency to be more user friendly. If the Taxpayer Advocate Office, is given institutional support it will need, it can play an important role in minimizing needless taxpayer compliance burdens, particularly for the small business owners and individual taxpayers who in the past have faced the most difficulty in working with DOR," said Will Hazel, tax practitioner and partner, Chu, Ring and Hazel.
Laskey also announced another appointment of Tanya Touhey to become the new director of the Problem Resolution Office. Touhey was the bureau's deputy director and a manager in the agency's special research unit.