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Filing an appeal in MassTaxConnect

Answers to frequently asked questions about filing appeals, including what information to provide with your appeal.

Table of Contents

General

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a disagreement about the amount of tax or penalties you owe. An appeal was previously called a dispute. It is also called an abatement. Filing an appeal is the:

Appeals submitted on paper can have a longer processing time.

Should I file an appeal if I made a mistake on my tax return?

No. Do not file an appeal to correct a mistake. File an amended return if you need to correct errors or omissions on your original tax return. An amended return is a new, corrected return.

Be sure to include all schedules with your amended return. Sometimes a simple phone call or e-message through MassTaxConnect may resolve the issue.

Should I file an appeal if I received a notice saying I have not filed a return(s)?

Generally, the return(s) must be filed before you can file an appeal. You can file an appeal to contest your filing requirement if you:

Should I file an appeal for a missing or incorrect payment?

No. You should not file an appeal for payment related issues.

If you have questions about a payment, you should:

Should I file an appeal if I can’t afford to pay my bill?

No. Do not file an appeal if you cannot pay your bill in full. Instead, you should:

  • Contact DOR at the number on your bill or
  • Apply for a payment plan through MassTaxConnect by selecting Request a Payment Plan in the Collection Notices section under the More… tab. 

For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DOR Collections.

In the FAQs under the General Information tab for additional information, see How do I apply for hardship consideration?

How long do I have to file an appeal?

There are time limits to file an appeal based on:

  • When you were assessed
  • When your return was due and
  • When/if you have paid any amounts in dispute.

Generally, you must file within:

  • 3 years from the date of filing the return (or within 3 years from the due date, if the return was filed before the due date),
  • 2 years from the date the tax was assessed or deemed to be assessed, or
  • 1 year from the date the tax was paid.

For more information on time limits for filing an appeal, select the Show Additional Information hyperlink on the first screen of the appeal request on MassTaxConnect.

For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DOR Collections.

Will I receive confirmation when my MassTaxConnect appeal request is received?

Yes. You will receive a confirmation number once your appeal is submitted.

To see the status of your appeal request:

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect.
  • Select the Submissionshyperlink from the More… section
  • The appeal will appear under the Submitted column or the Processed column. 
  • Select to view your submission. 

Will I be notified when my appeal is assigned?

No. If you requested a hearing or the assigned Appeals Officer needs additional information to resolve your case, DOR will contact you.

When can I expect action to be taken on my appeal request?

Generally, appeals are assigned to an Appeals Officer within 2–4 months to be reviewed.

If my appeal is approved resulting in a refund, how will I receive my refund?

A refund check will be mailed to you once the appeal is resolved. If you owe money on another tax account or another tax period, DOR will apply your refund to that debt.

What is the difference between a pre-assessment appeal and a post-assessment appeal?

An appeal filed within 30 days of a Notice of Intent to Assess (NIA) is considered a pre-assessment appeal since you have not yet been assessed (billed).

Requesting a pre-assessment appeal through MassTaxConnect is the same as filing a paper Form DR-1: Office of Appeals Form.

An appeal filed after you receive a Notice of Assessment is considered post-assessment since you have been assessed (billed).

A post-assessment appeal is also known as an abatement. Requesting a post-assessment appeal through MassTaxConnect is the same as filing a paper Form ABT: Application for Abatement.

What is a hearing and why would I request a hearing as part of my appeal?

A hearing is your opportunity to speak to an Appeals Officer about your appeal. Hearings can be held:

Hearings are not required but you may want to request one in order to offer additional information about your appeal. A hearing will only be held if DOR does not agree with your appeal.

What is a pre-assessment conference?

A pre-assessment conference is your opportunity to speak to an Appeals Officer after you've been audited but before you receive a Notice of Assessment.

Conferences can be held:

At the conclusion of an audit, you will receive a Notice of Intent to Assess (NIA). You have 30 days from the date of the NIA to file an appeal requesting a pre-assessment conference.

What is a settlement and why would I request settlement as part of my appeal?

A settlement is an agreement between you and DOR that:

  • You will pay a reduced amount of the tax liability in dispute and
  • DOR will accept that amount as full payment of that liability. 

There are many reasons to choose settlement. You may want to request settlement because: 

  • You owe some but not all the tax due or 
  • You want the appeal to be settled without a determination of liability. 

Once a settlement amount is agreed on, the appeal is closed and may not be reopened unless the agreement is set aside due to:

  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation or 
  • Mistake of material fact. 

DOR evaluates settlements based on the hazards of litigation. If there is a chance that DOR would lose the case if it went to court, DOR is more likely to agree to a settlement.

Settlements for reduced amounts will not be considered in cases of:

  • Financial hardship or
  • Inability to pay.

If you would like to request a settlement for those reasons, contact the Collections Bureau.

For more information about collections, please see:

If my appeal is denied, will I have further appeal rights?

Yes. You may appeal the denial of your request to the Appellate Tax Board within 60 days from the date of the denial.

What does it mean to withdraw my consent to allow more than 6 months for DOR to act on my appeal request?

If you withdraw your consent to give DOR more than 6 months to act on your appeal, your appeal will be denied:

  • 6 months from the date of filing or 
  • As of the date you withdraw consent, whichever is later.

If DOR does not act on my appeal within 6 months and my appeal is denied because I withdrew my consent to allow for more time, will I have further appeal rights?

Yes. You may appeal the denial to the Appellate Tax Board.

I have entered into a payment agreement. Can I still file an appeal?

Yes. When you file your appeal, your payment agreement will end. You may make voluntary payments during this time if you want.

  • If your appeal is approved, any overpayment will be refunded to you.
  • If your appeal is denied, you would need to request a new payment agreement.

I have paid my liability in full. Can I still file an appeal?

Yes. You can file an appeal if your appeal is filed within the required time limits. If your appeal is approved, any overpayment will be refunded to you.

Will I be charged interest while my appeal is in process?

Yes. If the amounts you are appealing are unpaid, interest will be charged and added to the balance.

Will I be charged penalties while my appeal is in process?

Penalties for late payment of an audit assessment are not imposed while the appeal is in process. Other types of late penalties may apply.

Will collection activity continue while my appeal is in process?

While your appeal is in process, collection activity will stop on the tax periods included in the appeal. Collection activity will resume after a decision has been made.

While your appeal is in process, the following continue to be added to the unpaid balance:

  • Interest and
  • Some late penalties. 

You may make voluntary payments during this time if you want.

What is an Innocent Spouse appeal?

If your original Personal Income Tax return was filed jointly and DOR later finds that the tax amount reported on the return is less than what is actually owed (understatement of tax), one spouse may be found not responsible for a joint tax liability if certain factors are met.

If you request relief from a joint tax liability by filing an innocent spouse dispute, DOR will consider facts such as whether:

  • You are currently divorced from the spouse you filed jointly with
  • You knew or should have known that the tax was underreported on your original joint return.

If I file an Innocent Spouse appeal, will the non-requesting spouse be notified?

Yes, assuming that your appeal is 

  • Within the time limits and
  • You submit the required documentation,

DOR will notify the non-requesting spouse and request that he or she complete Form M-12508: Massachusetts Questionnaire for Non-Requesting Spouse as part of the information needed for a determination on your appeal.

What should I do if my refund was taken to pay a debt that belongs to my spouse?

If you filed a joint return, both parties are responsible for taxes owed. If your refund was taken to pay a tax debt that was not a part of a joint return, you may file a non-debtor spouse claim by completing a Form M-8379: Nondebtor Spouse Claim and Allocation for Refund Due. 

For these instances, do not file an appeal. If your refund was taken by another agency to pay a debt such as:

  • Child support, 
  • Unemployment, 
  • College expenses, or 
  • A debt to the IRS, 

you must contact that agency directly.

How do I file a Responsible Person appeal?

You can appeal a determination that you are personally liable as a Responsible Person for the:

  • Sales
  • Meals
  • Withholding or
  • Other taxes of a business. 

To file a Responsible Person appeal: 

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect.
  • Select the More… tab.  
  • In the Other Actions box select File an Appeal 
  • Select the Yes option under Type of Appeal to tell us that you are filing a responsible person appeal. 
  • Select Next. 
  • The next page will list the businesses for which you have been held responsible 
  • Select the appropriate business(s) that you want to appeal and select Next. 
  • Select the RP Determinationletter you received and select Next. 
  • The Account Type(s) and periods associated with the letter will be listed. 
  • Next is the area where you provide an explanation of the reasons for your appealProvide as much detail as possible. You will be able to attach documents to this appeal at the end.  
  • On this page, you also need to tell us if you are appealing the fact that you are a responsible person and whether you disagree with the amounts that the business owes. Select the appropriate box next to each Period. 
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Follow the remaining prompts. 
  • Select the Submit button to submit the dispute.  

Instructions

How do I file an appeal?

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect.
  • Select the More… tab. 
  • In the Other Actions box select File an Appeal 
    • If you are filing a responsible person appeal, see the FAQ How do I file a Responsible Person appeal? This FAQ is for all other types of appeals.
  • Select No in the type of appeal section at the bottom of the first.  
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Select the type of appeal action you need in the drop down. 
  • Select the tax account that the appeal concerns. 
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Enter the letter ID if the appeal concerns a notice you received form DOR, but it is not required.
  • Fill in the required information on the subsequent pages, which depend on the type of appeal, and add any required attachments.
  • For more information about those types of appeals, see the Frequently Asked Questions: 
    • How do I appeal penalties? and 
    • How do I appeal an audit assessment? 
  • Select Submit to complete the request. 

For Personal Income Tax, if you filed jointly with a spouse, you’ll need to access the Personal Income Tax account of the primary filer (i.e., the person whose Social Security Number appears first on the return).

How do I file a motor vehicle sales tax appeal?

You can file an appeal for sales tax or penalties paid on a motor vehicle purchase without logging in to MassTaxConnect.

To file a motor vehicle sales tax appeal:

  • Access the MassTaxConnect homepage
  • Select File an Abatement for Motor Vehicle Sales Taxin the Abate section.  
  • Follow the instructions.

How do I file an appeal for multiple tax types or multiple assessments?

You must file separate appeals for each tax account type. You should, however, include all tax periods per tax account type in a single appeal. Filing multiple appeals for the same tax account type will:

  • Result in duplicate appeals and 
  • Delay the processing of your case.

How do I appeal penalties?

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect.
  • Select the More… tab. 
  • In the Other Actions box select File an Appeal. 
  • Select No in the type of appeal section at the bottom of the first page. Yes is only for responsible person appeals.  
  • Select the Penalty Waiver type of appeal action in the drop-down. 
  • Select the tax account that the appeal concerns and enter amount. 
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Enter the letter ID if the appeal concerns a notice you received form DOR, but it is not required.   
  • Select a penalty waiver reason from the drop-down list. 
  • Fill in the required information and add any required attachments. 
  • Select Submit to complete the request. 

The File a dispute option should not be used for healthcare penalties. For additional information on how to dispute this penalty, please see How do I dispute a healthcare penalty?

How do I appeal a healthcare penalty?

To appeal a health care penalty due to a missing or incomplete Schedule HC: Health Care Information on your Personal Income Tax return, you must file:

  • An amended return with all schedules, including a complete Schedule HC.

You may also submit an e-message attaching a copy of your:

To appeal a health care penalty for hardship reasons, fill in the I wish to appeal the penalty oval on the last page of Schedule HC.

Your hardship appeal will be reviewed by the Massachusetts Health Connector. If you did not fill in this oval on your original return, you must file an amended return with all schedules, including a complete Schedule HC with the oval filled in.

Audit, penalty, and other appeals should be completed by selecting I wish to appeal the penalty.

For more information, see Learn how to appeal the health care penalty.

How do I appeal an audit assessment?

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect
  • Select the More… tab. 
  • In the Other Actions box select File an Appeal. 
  • Select No in the type of appeal section at the bottom of the first page. Yes is only for responsible person appeals.
  • Select the Audit Adjustment type of appeal action in the drop-down. 
  • Select the tax account that the audit appeal concerns. 
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Select the notice that you received that is most related to this audit appeal.  
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for your appeals. You’ll be able to attach documents later.
  • Select the audit from the list on the bottom of the page.
  • Select the Next button. 
  • Fill in the remainder of the required information and add any required attachments. 
  • Select Submit to complete the request. 

What should I include in my appeal?

In your appeal, provide a detailed explanation of issues that includes the following:

  • Tax types 
  • Tax periods in dispute
  • Attached supporting documentation.

If you will be using a representative, attach a completed Form M-2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)? 

A Power of Attorney (POA) is required if the representative is: 

  • Seeking to act on behalf of a taxpayer and 
  • Requesting that DOR disclose information contained in tax returns and other documentations. 

This may include, but is not limited to, executing: 

  • Waivers and offers of waivers of restrictions on assessments or collection of deficiencies in taxes and 
  • Waivers of notice of disallowance of a claim for credit or refund.

When would I need to include a Form M-2848 with my appeal?

You need the Form M-2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative when you want another person, such as a

  • paid preparer,
  • accountant or
  • attorney,

to represent you in some or all of your tax matters with DOR.

The Form M-2848 has the representative’s contact information and your signature to show that you allow DOR to talk about your taxes with that representative.

Even if you have given your representative access to your MassTaxConnect accounts, that permission alone is not enough to allow the representative to act as your power of attorney in a tax dispute.

How much information should I include in the reason section of the appeal?

Your explanation should be as detailed as you think it needs to be for an Appeals Officer to understand your case. If the Appeals Officer needs more information, DOR will contact you.

Where can I enter my contact information?

You must add contact information in the Provide Contact Information section when completing an appeal.

Information required in this section must include: 

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address.

Should I attach additional documentation to my appeal?

Yes. You should attach everything you think would support your case. Adding supporting documentation to your case may allow DOR to resolve the appeal faster.

You should not assume DOR has any information other than your:

  • Tax returns and
  • Documents provided with your appeal.

To add an attachment to an appeal:

When completing your appeal, you will see an Attachments sections: 

  • Select the Add Attachment button.
  • A new window will open allowing you to browse your computer for a file to attach.

Can I include additional attachments to my appeal once it is processed?

No. If your appeal has been processed, you will be unable to:

  • Add attachments or
  • Edit your dispute in any way.

If you requested a hearing, you will be able to provide additional documentation to the Appeals Officer at the time of the hearing. The Appeals Officer may also contact you for more information and you can provide the documents then.

If the appeal has not been processed, you can delete the original appeal and submit a new one, adding any additional attachments. 

For more information, see:

Can I delete an appeal?

An appeal can only be deleted if it is in the status of Submitted. Once an appeal has been processed, the appeal cannot be:

  • Deleted or
  • Edited.

To delete an appeal:

  • Log in to MassTaxConnect.
  • Select the More tab. 
  • Select the Search Submissionslink. 
  • Select Appeallink under the Pendingcolumn. 
  • Select Delete in the upper right-hand of the page. 
  • Select OK to confirm. 

Once the appeal has been deleted, it cannot be undone.

 

Page updated: January 18, 2021

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