Disclosure of tax return information
To protect the confidentiality of tax records, Massachusetts law generally allows DOR to disclose tax return information only to taxpayers or their authorized representatives.
Without authorization from the taxpayer, DOR can only verify whether tax returns were filed with a "Yes" or "No" answer. No line item or address information can be provided.
Unauthorized disclosure of tax information is prohibited. Violation of this statute is punishable by:
- A fine of not more than $1,000, or
- Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both, and
- Disqualification from holding office in Massachusetts for a period not to exceed 3 years.
A taxpayer can authorize a third party to have access to their tax return and tax account information in several ways. This page explains the different types of third party authorization.
Power of Attorney, Form M-2848
With a Form M-2848, a taxpayer can show the terms of the POA’s representation and can name one or more representatives.
Form M-2848 must list the tax type and tax periods that a representative has authorized access to. Note that a representative cannot receive the taxpayer's refund.
A family member acting as an authorized representative requires a signed POA form except when a parent is acting on behalf of a minor child. If a joint return was filed, either spouse can discuss that return with DOR.
A completed, signed Form M-2848 may be submitted to a specific person you are working with at DOR (such as a collector or auditor). You may also fax the completed and signed form to 617-660-3995 for the POA to be attached to the taxpayer’s account, only if the taxpayer has previously registered with DOR through MassTaxConnect or has filed a tax return in Massachusetts. Allow 48 hours for the faxed form to be attached to the taxpayer’s account.
To revoke a POA or make changes to the existing form, a new form must be filed. If you are working with someone at DOR and would like to revoke a POA in its entirety without executing a new one, submit a signed statement of intention to revoke to your DOR contact or send by fax to 617-660-3995
Filing a dispute
For taxpayer and practitioner convenience, a limited Power of Attorney is incorporated into Form ABT, Application for Abatement. This POA is only good for the tax periods specified and the issues covered in the particular dispute.
With third party access to MassTaxConnect, a practitioner may file a dispute on behalf of a taxpayer, however, a completed Form M-2848 should be attached to the dispute for the practitioner to represent the taxpayer in their dispute and to receive information or communications relating to the dispute.
Paid tax preparer authorization on tax return
You can authorize a preparer to discuss your income tax return with DOR by filing in the oval below the preparer's signature.
This authorization is only valid for one year; it expires on the day the following year’s tax return is due.
Paid preparer authorization on a tax return permits DOR to:
- Request any information that is missing from the return
- Discuss any return discrepancies
- Discuss the status of a refund or payment(s)
- Discuss DOR notices related to the return including offsets and adjustments
Paid preparer authorization on a tax return is limited as follows:
- It is limited to the individual paid preparer who signed the return, and does not allow authorization for other preparers from the same company or firm;
- It doesn't authorize DOR to issue refund checks to the tax preparer;
- It can't be revoked but will expire no later than the due date (without regard to extension) for filing the next year's tax return.
- It can’t be used to authorize the preparer to represent the taxpayer in a tax dispute.
The DOR may discuss tax information with someone other than the taxpayer only if:
- The taxpayer calls in,
- Verifies that he or she is, in fact, the taxpayer and
- Requests that DOR speak with someone who is either in the same room as the taxpayer or
- Is on the same phone line as the taxpayer.
This situation may occur when the taxpayer has difficulty speaking or understanding English.
DOR may verify that the taxpayer is on the line by requesting:
- His or her Social Security number,
- Address and
- Last year's tax refund or payment.
Third party authorization through MassTaxConnect
Taxpayers or their authorized representatives (called a third party) can make tax payments, view copies of notices sent by DOR, send secure messages to DOR and file disputes online through MassTaxConnect. Most business tax returns can also be filed through MassTaxConnect.
Taxpayers can grant access to all of their tax accounts or only certain tax accounts to a particular representative. Third parties may be granted all access, or access rights may be limited to file/pay, make payments or view only.
Third party access can be initiated in MassTaxConnect by either the taxpayer or the authorized representative but only the taxpayer can grant access.