Directive Directive 03-15: Responsible Person Implications for Tax Practitioners Who File and Pay Electronically

Date: 12/31/2003
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Sales and Use Tax

The Commissioner of Revenue has the authority to require that any return, document or tax payment be "filed with or transmitted to the commissioner in such manner, format and medium as the commissioner shall from time to time prescribe." G.L. c. 62C, § 5. TIR 03-11 requires electronic filing and payment as of January 1, 2004 for employers remitting wage withholding under chapter 62B, operators remitting state and local room occupancy excise under chapter 64G, and vendors remitting sales and use taxes under chapters 64H and 64I, if the filer's combined liability for the preceding calendar year was $10,000 or more for the three categories of taxes. The Department's Webfile for Business allows tax practitioners to file and pay these taxes electronically on behalf of employers, operators and vendors.

Issue: Does a tax practitioner's use of the Department of Revenue's Webfile for Business result in the practitioner taking on the status as a responsible person for the taxpayer?

Directive: No. A tax practitioner who files returns and pays taxes on behalf of his or her client does not become personally and individually responsible for the payment of the client's tax liabilities as a responsible person under G.L. c. 62C, § 31A by virtue of the tax practitioner's use of Webfile for Business. On the other hand, a tax practitioner who already is a responsible person for a particular taxpayer, because the practitioner has the requisite duty or responsibility to pay over taxes, remains a responsible person regardless of the use of Webfile for Business.

A responsible person can include an officer or employee of a corporation, or member or employee of a partnership, or any other person who has a duty or responsibility to pay over withholding, room occupancy excise, or sales or use taxes including sales tax on meals. An independent professional tax practitioner having no authority over the taxpayer's business affairs or control over the decision to disburse the taxpayer's funds is not, generally, a responsible person. Having the authority to file or pay the taxpayer's taxes electronically does not, without more, transform a tax practitioner into a responsible person.

/s/Alan LeBovidge
Alan LeBovidge
Commissioner of Revenue


December 31, 2003

DD 03-15

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