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Administrative Procedure

Administrative Procedure AP 601: Assistance, Service, Obtaining Information

Date: 01/31/2018
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Administrative

601.1. Customer Service

            Taxpayers can make payments, check on refunds, view notices, review up-to-date account information and send secure inquiries about their accounts through MassTaxConnect (MTC). Taxpayers may find helpful general information on the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) website, or call DOR at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free within Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089, for general assistance. However, only a formal written letter ruling request, as provided by 830 CMR 62C.3.1, will bind DOR as to a particular taxpayer with a specific set of facts. See AP 615, Public Written Statements, for information on requesting a formal written statement.

601.2. Contacting DOR-Helpful Hints

 When calling or writing to DOR for assistance, please keep in mind the following:

Telephone Calls. Have all relevant information handy, e.g., identification number(s) (social security number or federal identification number), tax return(s) and notice(s) received.

Correspondence. Include the following information, as applicable, in any electronic or paper correspondence: full name(s) of affected individual(s) or business(es), identification number(s) (social security number or federal identification number), complete address(es) (both old and new addresses if the address has changed since the last contact with DOR), tax type(s), and tax period(s) involved. Including a daytime telephone number and e-mail address as contact information is often helpful.

When writing about a payment, if available, include a legible photocopy of both sides of the cancelled check or cash payment receipt. If about an online payment, include the date of payment, amount and confirmation number.

Please keep letters simple and to the point. State the most important issue first and highlight or underline other important points. Attach copies of any relevant documents or recent correspondence from DOR.

Other. Self-help centers are located in each of the Department’s district offices that are located throughout the state. The address of each district office can be found on the Department’s website.

601.3. Community Outreach Programs

            In an effort to make DOR's tax services more accessible, DOR hosts a number of Community Outreach programs. Through bilingual staff members and the use of interpreters, DOR is also able to assist non‑English‑speaking taxpayers. The following is a brief discussion of each program. For more information and schedule information, call DOR’s Speaker’s Board at 617-887-5660, send an email to speakerboard@dor.state.ma.us or check DOR’s website.

            Small Business Workshops. These sessions are held regularly at various libraries throughout the state for those thinking about starting a new business. Topics include registering as a new vendor, collecting and remitting business taxes and filing the correct returns.

            Tax School for Practitioners. DOR staff annually updates tax practitioners statewide on changes in tax laws through a series of sessions sponsored by the University of Massachusetts.

601.4. Requesting Copies of Previously Filed Returns

            Most taxpayers can review up-to-date account information, including information about prior year returns, through MTC at www.mass.gov/masstaxconnect. This information can be printed to produce a copy. The following describes the procedures for requesting a copy of a return, schedule or other supporting document that has been filed with DOR. A written request should include the information specified above in 601.2, Correspondence. Please note that DOR is only required to retain returns for six years after the date the return was filed or the date it was due, whichever occurs later. DOR may retain returns for a longer period. Blank copies of the forms mentioned below are also available on the Department’s website.

            A photocopying fee of 20 cents per page may be imposed by DOR. Generally, this fee is imposed only if the total cost of copying documents exceeds $25.00. Do not send money with your photocopy request. DOR will contact you if any fees apply.

Personal Income Tax Returns
 

            The fastest and most efficient way to request previously filed personal income tax returns is online through MassTaxConnect. Alternatively, Form M-4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form, or a written request with the same information, may be used by taxpayers to request a copy of their income tax returns. Form M-4506 or a written request must be signed by the taxpayer who signed the return. If the request is signed by someone other than the taxpayer, the request must be accompanied by a valid power of attorney, Form M-2848. See AP 614, Power of Attorney. Send to: Mass. DOR, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA 02204, or call (617) 887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089.

Estate Tax Returns
 

            Information about a particular estate tax return can be viewed on MTC. A written request for a copy of a return must include the decedent's name, social security number, the date of death and daytime telephone number of the requester. The request must be signed by the individual who signed the original return. If the request is signed by someone other than the individual who signed the return, the request must be accompanied by a valid power of attorney, Form M-2848, from the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If there is a new personal representative, executor or administrator of the estate, a copy of the appointment, certified by the probate court, must be submitted with the request. See AP 614, Power of Attorney. Send requests to: Mass. DOR, Estate Tax Unit, P.O. Box 7023, Boston, MA 02204; or call the Estate Tax Information line at (617) 887-6930. 

Fiduciary Returns
 

          Information about your fiduciary tax returns can be viewed on MTC. A written request for a copy of a prior year return must include the fiduciary’s name, federal taxpayer identification number, tax period for which the photocopy is requested, the name and address of the requester, and the requester’s daytime telephone number. If someone other than the fiduciary requests the photocopy, the letter must be accompanied by a valid power of attorney, Form M-2848. See AP 614, Power of Attorney. Send the request to: Mass. DOR, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA 02204, or call (617) 887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089.

Other Returns
 

          Information about other tax returns can also be viewed on MTC. A written request for a copy of a miscellaneous excise return (cigar, cigarette, gasoline, fuels, and alcoholic beverage) and all other returns, such as corporate excise, sales, use, withholding, room occupancy, and meals, should also contain similar information. Sent such requests to Mass. DOR, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA 02204. Oral requests may be made by calling (617) 887-MDOR (6367) or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089. The request must be signed by the taxpayer or individual that signed the return. If it is signed by someone other than the taxpayer or individual who signed the return, the request must be accompanied by a valid power of attorney, Form M-2848. See AP 614, Power of Attorney. If the request is for a corporation, it must be signed by a current corporate officer as shown in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s of records. If the request is from a partnership, it must be signed by a general partner. If the request is from an LLC, it must be signed by the current manager of the LLC, as shown in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s records.

601.5. Disclosure of Return Information

            G.L. c. 62C, § 21(a) generally prohibits DOR employees from disclosing tax returns, return information, and information derived from returns such as audit files (all as defined in 830 CMR 62C.21.1) to anyone but the taxpayer or his or her authorized representative. The principal exceptions to this provision are listed in G.L. c. 62C, § 21(b) and 830 CMR 62C.21.1. To ensure that returns and return information are disclosed only to the appropriate parties, taxpayers will be required to provide as much information as is necessary to verify their identity. If proof of identity is requested, a photo ID is required.

            A valid power of attorney, Form M-2848, or other written authorization that is acceptable to DOR and meets the requirements of 830 CMR 62C.21.1(4)(a)4 must be filed by any representative wishing return information and/or requests for records other than tax returns. See AP 614, Power of Attorney. Any questions involving the validity of a power of attorney or written authorization should be referred to a Disclosure Attorney in the Litigation Bureau by writing to P.O. Box 9565, Boston, MA 02114-9565 or by sending a fax to (617) 626-3245.

601.6. Public Records Requests

            Members of the public may make requests for public records maintained by DOR. In order to help facilitate DOR’s response to such requests, requesters are encouraged to narrow the scope of the public records sought. DOR’s public records generally do not include tax returns, information developed by DOR based on tax returns (including taxpayer-specific information), other documents filed with DOR by a taxpayer or generated by DOR that relate to a taxpayer, all materials and content described in G.L. c. 62C, § 21(d), and all materials exempted from the definition of public records by G.L. c. 4, § 7, clauses 26(a) et. seq, or by case-law. Sometimes, a record, even if it is a public record, may not be available because of its age or because it is no longer retained by DOR in accordance with the Statewide Records Retention Schedule, as published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. DOR is not required to create a record in order to respond to a public records request.

            Requests for public records should be submitted online. Requests may also be submitted in writing to one of the following divisions of DOR:

  • Documents relating to DOR tax matters should be mailed to the Disclosure Attorney of DOR’s Litigation Bureau at P.O. Box 9565, Boston, MA 02114-9565.
  • Documents relating to the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program should be mailed to the Director of UST, at P.O. Box 6563, Boston, MA 02114-9563. Additional information can also be found at the UST Program’s website.
  • Documents relating to municipal finances should be mailed to the Public Information Officer of DOR's Division of Local Services, at P.O. Box 9569, Boston, MA 02114-9569. Requesters are encouraged to browse DLS website to see if the documents sought have been posted online before submitting a request.
  • Documents relating to child support information should be made directly to the Disclosure Officer of DOR's Child Support Enforcement Division, at P.O. Box 9561, Boston, MA 02114-9561.              

 In each case, appropriate DOR personnel will determine whether or not the document sought is a “public record.” For more information on filing public records requests, including the response obligations of state agencies, please see the Secretary of the Commonwealth “Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law,” which may be found online.

G.L. c. 62C, §§ 21(a), (b)

830 CMR 62C.21.1

830 CMR 62C.21.1(4)(a)(4)

AP 614, Power of Attorney

AP 615, Public Written Statements

Form 1, Resident Income Tax Return

Form 1-NR/PY, Nonresident or Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return

Form M-4506, Request for Copy of Individual Income Tax Form

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