Administrative Procedure

Administrative Procedure AP 601: Assistance, Service, Obtaining Information

Date: 02/08/2022
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Table of Contents

601.1. Customer Service

MassTaxConnect (MTC) is the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) web-based application for filing and paying taxes. Taxpayers can register and file certain tax obligations online, amend and view previously filed returns, make payments, check on refunds, view notices, review up-to-date account information and correspondence with DOR, and send secure inquiries about their accounts through MTC at www.mass.gov/masstaxconnect.  Taxpayers may find helpful general information on DOR’s website at www.mass.gov/dor, 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(6)(e), 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 letter ruling.

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 inquiring 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 DOR’s district offices that are located throughout the state.  The address of each district office can be found on DOR’s website at https://www.mass.gov/guides/who-to-call-at-dor.

601.3. Community Outreach Programs

In an effort to make DOR's tax services more accessible, DOR hosts a number of community outreach programs including those discussed below.  For more information or to request a DOR speaker, call DOR’s Speaker’s Board at 617-887-5660 or send an email to speakerboard@dor.state.ma.us.

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

Filing Season Updates.  DOR staff annually provide updates to tax practitioners statewide on changes in tax laws through a series of events such as the Tax School sponsored by the University of Massachusetts, or conferences sponsored by organizations such as the Massachusetts Society of Enrolled Agents, the Massachusetts Society of CPA’s, the Massachusetts Association of Accountants and the National Association of Tax Professionals.

601.4. Requesting Copies of Previously Filed Returns and Other Documents

DOR is required to retain a return for six years after the date the return was filed or the date it was due, whichever occurs later, but may retain returns longer.  Taxpayers can generally view and copy up-to-date account information, including information about prior year returns, through MTC at www.mass.gov/masstaxconnect. Alternatively, a written request for such information can be made. 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 be made on Form M-4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form, and signed by the taxpayer who signed the return. If the request is being made by someone other than the taxpayer, a Form M-2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, (see AP 614) also must be included with the Form M-4506. Blank copies of both forms are available on the Department’s website at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/dor-tax-forms-and-instructions.

In completing Form M-4506, include the information specified above in 601.2, Correspondence.  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. Completed forms should be mailed to Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Customer Service Bureau, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA  02204. You may also call (617) 887-6367 or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1 (800) 392-6089 for additional assistance.

Personal Income Tax Returns

As an alternative to filing Form M-4506, the fastest and most efficient way to request previously filed personal income tax returns is online through MTC at the address noted above.   

Estate Tax Returns

Information about a particular estate tax return also can be viewed on MTC.  If a written request for a copy of a return is made, it 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 that individual, the request must be accompanied by a Power of Attorney form. 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. 

Fiduciary Returns

Information about fiduciary tax returns also can be viewed on MTC. If a written request for a copy of a prior year return is made, it 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.

Other Returns 

Information about other tax returns such as a miscellaneous excise return (cigar, cigarette, gasoline, fuels, and alcoholic beverage) or a corporate excise, sales, use, withholding, room occupancy, or meals tax return also can also be viewed on MTC. Alternatively, a written request for a copy of such returns can be made as discussed above.  If the request is from a corporation, it must be signed by a current corporate officer as shown in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s records.  If the request is from a partnership, it must be signed by a general partner.  Finally, 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 or by e-mailing the request to taxpayer-records@dor.state.ma.us.

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 at http://www.mass.gov/dor/utility/public-records-requests.html. Requests may also be submitted in writing to one of the following divisions of DOR

  • Public records relating to DOR tax matters should be emailed to PRLR-TAX-Division@dor.state.ma.us or can be mailed to the Disclosure Attorney of DOR’s Litigation Bureau at P.O. Box 9565, Boston, MA 02114-9565. 
  • 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 https://www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-local-services to see if the documents sought have been posted online before submitting a request. 
  • Public records 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 at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf.

 

REFERENCES:
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

Referenced Sources:

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