Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Massachusetts Department of Revenue's (DOR) Collections process.
This guide is not designed to address all questions which may arise nor to address complex issues in detail. Nothing contained herein supersedes, alters, or otherwise changes any provision of the Massachusetts General Laws, Massachusetts Department of Revenue Regulations, Department rulings or any other sources of the law.
Updated: November 15, 2023
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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DOR Collections
Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Massachusetts Department of Revenue's (DOR) Collections process.
Table of Contents
What should I do when I receive a bill and do not understand what to do?
You should go to MassTaxConnect (MTC), where you can register to manage your account online.
You will be able to see:
- Information regarding your rights as a taxpayer
- Information regarding bills and notices
- Information about how to make a payment, and more.
You may also call 617-887-6400 for additional information.
What is the sequence of steps DOR can take to collect tax that is due?
A taxpayer receives a bill in the form of a Notice of Assessment (NOA).
A NOA states:
- Date of the assessment
- Amount of tax assessed
- Any accrued penalties, as well as 30 days of interest.
If the amount stated on the NOA is not paid, a Statement of Account will be issued.
If the assessment is not appealed and no payment is mailed within 10 days, any one of the following actions may occur:
- Account may be subject to automated collection efforts, such as a bank account levy or a wage levy.
- Account may be referred to DOR's Collections Bureau.
- Account may be referred to an outside collection agency.
The Department can take the following enforcement actions to collect delinquent tax liabilities:
- Levy bank accounts
- Levy wages
- Impose a lien on personal and real property
- Refer an account to our Collections Bureau
- Offset refunds
- Intercept state and/or federal refunds and other government payments
- Intercept insurance proceeds, lottery winnings, casino winnings, and sports wagering winnings, and intercept other payments through the Comptroller’s Office
- Suspend driver’s licenses
- Revoke MA vehicle and/or trailer registrations
- Suspend/Revoke/Deny renewal of professional licenses or certificates
- Add a taxpayer's name to the Public Disclosure Tax Delinquents List
- Seize businesses and other assets
- Refer an account to an outside collection agency
I received a "Final Notice" or a "Notice of Collection." What does this mean?
When an account has been transferred to Collections, the collector to whom the account has been assigned will, in most cases, attempt to reach you to discuss the status of the account.
If the collector is unable to reach you or if you do not respond to the notice, the collector will use various collection methods to assure that delinquent taxes due the Commonwealth are paid.
I received a “Notice of Massachusetts Intercept of Winnings.” What does this mean?
If you win (i) more than $1,200 from slot machines at a Massachusetts licensed casino, (ii) an amount from table games that is subject to federal income tax withholding at a Massachusetts licensed casino, or (iii) an amount from a sports wager that is subject to federal income tax withholding from a Massachusetts licensed sports wagering operator, the licensed casino or sports wagering operator must contact DOR to determine if you have an outstanding child support obligation and/or a past-due state tax liability.
If DOR informs the licensed casino or sports wagering operator that you have such an obligation or liability, the licensed casino or sports wagering operator must withhold the outstanding child support obligation and/or past-due tax liability from your winnings and remit the withheld amounts to DOR.
Detailed information regarding the intercept processes and procedures can be found on Notice of Massachusetts Intercept of Winnings.
What is a tax lien?
A tax lien is a legal claim by a government organization against an individual or business which owes taxes.
A tax lien:
- Protects the Commonwealth’s interests
- Attaches to all your real and personal property
- May prevent the sale or transfer of the property attached
Because the notice is a public record, it could negatively affect your credit.
How is a lien released?
If you want to obtain a release of a lien, you must pay the amount shown on the lien plus any additional interest and penalties which gained to the date of payment.
Payment must be made by one of the following methods:
- Bank check
- Personal money order
- Certified check
- Attorney's Client Fund check
- Credit card
How can I avoid a lien?
You may pay the liability in full or enter into a Lien Waiver Agreement.
What is a Lien Waiver Agreement?
A Lien Waiver Agreement establishes an installment payment plan of 12 months or less.
Before a Lien Waiver Agreement will be considered, you must file all outstanding returns.
Penalties and interest continue to accrue on the balance until the liability is paid in full.
Taxpayers with Lien Waiver Agreements must also (i) file any additional returns and (ii) pay in full any additional taxes that may come due during the term of the Lien Waiver Agreement.
Taxpayers that enter into Lien Waiver Agreements will also be subject to refund intercepts and offsets.
What if I am unable to pay my liability in full?
Before a Payment Agreement will be considered, you must file all outstanding returns. A Payment Agreement extends the statute of limitations for the term of the Payment Agreement.
Penalties and interest continue to accrue on the balance until the liability is paid in full. If you have a Payment Agreement, you must also:
- File any additional returns and
- Pay in full any additional taxes that may come due during the term of the Payment Agreement
Depending on the balance and the term of the Payment Agreement, you may also be subject to a lien. You will also be subject to refund intercepts and offsets.
What if I am unable to make any payments towards my liability?
If you believe you are unable to make any payments at this time, you may consider applying for temporary hardship status. DOR will review your situation and decide whether a significant hardship exists. A significant hardship is defined as not being able to provide the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and shelter.
If you are unemployed or are receiving certain government benefits, you may qualify for temporary hardship status. Call the Department's Collections Bureau at 617-887-6400 to tell us about your circumstances and discuss hardship eligibility.
You may request hardship status online at mass.gov/masstaxconnect (after logging in) or you may complete Form M-911: Taxpayer’s Application for Relief Due to Hardship.
What does it mean to be approved for hardship status?
Hardship status is temporary and is reviewed periodically. You will remain responsible for tax liabilities covered by hardship status and DOR may file tax liens against liabilities covered by hardship status. Please note: Open businesses are not eligible for hardship.
Hardship approval limits some administrative collection actions:
- Bank levy actions are on hold
- Wage garnishments are on hold
- Suspended driver’s licenses may be restored
- Revoked MA vehicle and/or trailer registrations may be restored
- Suspended MA Professional Licenses may be restored
- If your name is on the Public Disclosure Tax Delinquents List, it will be removed
Hardship approval DOES NOT do any of the following:
- Eliminate your tax liability
- Remove or stop the accrual of penalties and interest
- Remove or stop the issuance of state tax liens
- Stop refund offsets or any intercept programs
Taxpayers in hardship status must do the following:
- File any additional tax returns that become due
- Pay any additional taxes that become due
- Keep DOR informed of any significant change in their financial situation
How do I apply for a Payment Agreement?
Before a Payment Agreement is approved there must be sufficient documentation justifying need. The following are required:
- A Form M-433(I) Statement of Financial Condition for individuals and/or Form M-433(B) Statement of Financial Condition for Businesses or Schedule C filers
- A copy of the last‑filed federal tax return, and all schedules, if applicable (if the taxpayer is a business taxpayer, copies of individual federal income tax returns for any responsible person)
- A copy of the most recent paystub for the taxpayer and his or her spouse (if applicable)
- Proof of other income
- The name and account number of all personal or business accounts with any bank, financial institution or e-payment service and the last three months of statements for each account
- The name and account number of all credit card accounts and the most recent account statement for each account
- A letter describing a proposal for repayment
- Self-employed taxpayers must also include latest profit/loss statement and proof of estimated tax payments
- Corporate taxpayers must include a Certificate of Corporate Vote authorizing responsible persons to enter into the payment agreement.
Upon review of the documentation submitted, a Payment Agreement will be recommended. Unless you establish a Lien Waiver Agreement, you may be subject to a lien. You will also be subject to refund intercepts and offsets.
For more information visit DOR Payment Agreement Frequently Asked Questions.
How do I authorize my Payment Agreement?
Once a Payment Agreement is approved by DOR, you or your duly authorized representative (documented on a completed Form M-2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative) will be required to log on to MassTaxConnect (MTC) in order to activate the payment agreement.
What if I default my Payment Agreement?
If you fail to make timely payments or pay the agreed upon installment payment, in full, you will receive a default notice.
If the full installment payment is not paid promptly, the Payment Agreement will be cancelled.
You must then pay the balance in full or be subject to levy and seizure.
If you fail to file current returns and/or pay current taxes as they become due you will receive a default notice, and you must: (i) immediately file required returns and (ii) pay any delinquent amounts to avoid cancellation of the Payment Agreement.
I received a “Notice of Levy.” What does this mean?
This is a 60-day levy that allows DOR to take possession of your property or rights to property (i.e.: bank accounts.) It remains in effect for 60 days from the date it is first served, until the liability is paid in full or released, whichever first occurs.
I received a “Notice of Levy on Wages, Salary and Other Income.” What does this mean?
This levy allows DOR to take a certain amount of your wages, salary, or other income as payment of a tax liability. This levy remains in effect until the liability is paid in full or released.
I received a “Notice of Intent to Disclose Tax Liability.” What does this mean?
A Notice of Intent to Disclose Tax Liability may be sent to you if you:
- Owe more than $25,000 in total tax liabilities, and
- Have failed to make payment for a period not less than six months from the date the taxes were assessed.
If you fail to resolve the liability within 90 days of the notice, your name, city or town, and liability amount shall be posted on the Department’s Public Disclosure Tax Delinquents List.
Can my professional license be suspended or subject to non-renewal?
Yes. The Department of Revenue has the authority to request that the licensing agency or subdivision suspend, deny renewal, or revoke a professional license or certificate of any licensee who has (i) failed to file a required return or pay taxes due, or (ii) has not filed in good faith an application for abatement or petition contesting the tax before the Appellate Tax Board.
Can my driver’s license and vehicle registrations be suspended?
Yes. For non-payment of taxes the Department of Revenue has the authority to request suspension of a driver’s license and/or vehicle and trailer registration(s).
You may be sent a Notice of Intent to Suspend Driver’s License for non-payment.
If the liability is not resolved by either:
- Paying the liability in full,
- Entering into an approved Payment Agreement, or
- Being approved for hardship
within 30 days of the notice, your license and registration(s) will be marked by DOR at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The RMV will suspend the license and registration(s) 10 days after they are marked.
Can my account be assigned to a collection agency?
Yes. The Department of Revenue is authorized to employ private collection agencies for the collection of delinquent taxes.
A collection agency employed by the DOR does not have lien or levy powers but will use the same collection techniques used in the regular course of the collection agency's business.
What if I dispute my tax assessment?
Will the DOR settle my tax liability?
Yes. The Commissioner of Revenue is authorized to accept payment of less than your full tax liability in full and final settlement of that liability. If there is serious doubt as to the collectability of the total tax, you can file an Offer in Compromise through the Collections Bureau. Your account will remain in Collections and subject to enforcement actions until the Offer in Compromise is accepted for review by the Collections Bureau. If you are seeking a settlement where the amount of liability is at issue, you must complete and file a Form DR-1 with Department of Revenue's Office of Appeals.
What forms of payment are acceptable?
Electronic and credit card payments can be made on our website utilizing MassTaxConnect. Credit card payments can also be made through your assigned collector or by calling the telephone number listed on your bill. Payments can also be made by check or money order.
When should I contact the Problem Resolution Office or Office of the Taxpayer Advocate?
The Problem Resolution Office (PRO) was established specifically to help taxpayers whose problems have not been resolved in a reasonable amount of time; staff can research your problem and make sure that it is solved as quickly as possible.
Once you contact PRO and your case is accepted, a PRO staff person will be assigned to assist you with all aspects of your case until your problem is resolved.
PRO is not the appropriate venue to dispute the validity of an assessment.
If you need special help resolving a problem, please
- Call PRO at 617-626-3833 or
- Write to the office at PO Box 7092, Boston, MA 02204-7092.
Correspondence may be faxed to PRO at 617-626-3799.
If you are unable to seek resolution using these channels and/or the issue is affecting multiple taxpayers, you can also contact the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate. The Taxpayer Advocate welcomes feedback from taxpayers and tax professionals and encourages them to contact the office to report systemic problems or to offer suggestions for improvements.
The Taxpayer Advocate acts as an independent voice in reviewing protracted individual cases. The Advocate works to ensure that taxpayers are afforded their rights in all communications with the Department.
The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate can be contacted at:
Department of Revenue
Office of the Taxpayer Advocate
PO Box 7092
Boston, MA 02204-7092
- (617) 626-2280