Solving a tax-related problem

Your rights: DOR must maintain a Problem Resolution Office and an Office of Internal Affairs to safeguard taxpayers' rights.

Updated: May 12, 2022

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Serving over four million taxpayers, the Massachusetts tax system is a complex network of dozens of different taxes and hundreds of millions of pieces of data, safeguarded by careful procedures to ensure its accuracy and integrity. It is also, fortunately, a system that you, the taxpayer, can turn to if you have a problem with your taxes.

Along with the general information and assistance readily available from DOR on the website and other public forums, taxpayers who have questions about their particular tax situations are encouraged to access their accounts on MassTaxConnect and/or contact DOR for help.

If you have a general tax question, you can easily search the website for information or you can call DOR's main information lines for assistance. If, however, you are already dealing with a particular area of DOR, you should contact that office directly.

Whenever you have a question that requires us to look up your tax records, the Contact Center or the bureau involved can respond more efficiently when you provide the following information:

  • Taxpayer Identification Number
    • for individuals, a Social Security number or tax identification number
    • for businesses, a federal identification number;
  • Tax return, letter or bill in question;
  • Names and Social Security numbers of both individuals if a joint return is filed; and
  • Copies of both sides of a canceled check(s) or money order(s) with correspondence if a bill is being questioned.

To protect a taxpayer's right to privacy, DOR employees are legally barred from discussing a tax return or other taxpayer specific information with anyone other than the taxpayer who filed the return or with the taxpayer's designated power of attorney. Therefore, before any confidential tax information is released over the telephone, the DOR representative will ask questions to verify your identity. Also please remember to submit a Power of Attorney (Form M-2848) with any inquiry about your specific tax status if you expect the return to be discussed with a lawyer, accountant, family member or friend.

Where can I obtain copies of my previous tax returns or other tax-specific records?

If you are the taxpayer, or a person with a Power of Attorney (POA) for a taxpayer, then you may request taxpayer-specific records (for example, copies of tax returns, or an audit file) by emailing the request (and if you are not the taxpayer, then also a copy of the Power of Attorney) to the email address below.

If you are a U.S. government department or agency, then in some circumstances you may administratively subpoena quarterly wage records for a particular employer or employee.  

Email your request together with your POA or federal agency administrative subpoena to

Taxpayers who need to obtain copies of previous returns can request copies of prior year tax returns on MassTaxConnect by clicking on "Request a copy of a previously filed tax return" or by emailing a Form M-4506: Request for Copy of Tax Form.

Please keep in mind that DOR does not keep records past a certain time, and may not necessarily still have what you are asking for.

For POA information visit Power of Attorney (POA) and Paid Preparers.

What if I get a bill that I don't understand?

All bills sent to you by DOR (e.g., a Notice of Assessment or a Demand for Payment) will indicate the type of tax involved, the period for which the tax was due and whether any penalties or interest are due. Please read all bills as soon as you receive them because interest and, in some cases, penalties will accrue on unpaid taxes. In addition, the bill contains valuable information and time limitations for seeking further review. Finally, they will inform you about collection proceedings for any undisputed taxes. Please see the Collections section of this guide for more information. You can access electronic copies of all your DOR bills on your MassTaxConnect account at any time.

If you receive a bill that you don't understand, or if you feel that you were billed incorrectly, you should contact the person or DOR office indicated on the bill. If you have other questions, or if there is no contact number printed on the bill, please call the Contact Center at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089.

Learn more about DOR bills and notices.

My refund hasn't arrived. How can I check on its status?

To find out whether your return has been processed and/or when a refund check was issued, visit MassTaxConnect, or call DOR's Interactive Voice Response system at (617) 887-6367 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (800) 392-6089.

I received a notice that my refund was intercepted. What does this mean?

Every year, DOR intercepts the refunds of thousands of people who have outstanding debts to specific government agencies. This money then is applied to reduce that debt. First, before issuing your refund, an overpayment may be offset and applied to Massachusetts tax due if either you or your spouse owes money to DOR for a different tax period and/or different tax type. Second, your DOR refund may be intercepted for other liabilities as permitted by law. For example, if you or your spouse owes unpaid Division of Unemployment Assistance liabilities; owes unpaid Division of Medical Assistance liabilities; owes money to the Department of Transitional Assistance for overpayments of public assistance; owes money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); owes delinquent child support payments; defaults on a student loan; or owes liabilities to any other state agency, or to a city or town, or to an agency of a city, town or to a housing authority, if certified by the Office of the Comptroller. You will receive a notice that will include specific information on where to call with questions.

Generally, if you file a joint return, your entire overpayment may be used to offset the tax liabilities of either taxpayer. Also, your entire refund will be intercepted if either spouse owes money to the agencies identified above. However, nondebtor spouses may appeal to the individual agency that intercepted the refund and may qualify to have a portion of their refund returned to them. The contact information for the intercepting agency will be on the notice that is issued.

There is no set-off debt collection unless both the debt and the refund, if any, are at least $50.

For more information, please see Administrative Procedure 606, Refund Intercepts.

What if I discover that I made a mistake on my taxes?

If you filed a paper return which contains an immediately obvious omission - such as a missing signature - DOR may have to send your return back to you so that you can complete it correctly before it is processed. In other cases - such as an error in adding or subtracting - DOR may be able to correct your return automatically, and you will receive either a notice of the change with your refund, or you will be billed for the balance due.

For situations that you are aware of - such as omitting a deduction, a necessary schedule or an item of income - you should wait for your return to be processed then file an Amended Return to update any omitted information or documentation, and/or to request a refund or to make an additional payment.

If you believe that you have underreported and/or underpaid your taxes, you should file an amended return and/or make an additional payment as soon as possible since interest or penalties will continue to accrue until the payment is made.

Business taxpayers can use the "amend" feature of their MassTaxConnect account to make changes to previously filed tax returns. If amending your return on MassTaxConnect is not an option and you are not required to file electronically, you can check the amended return box on your paper return and file it the way you usually do. You can still make an electronic payment even if you cannot file the return electronically.

What If I disagree with the amount DOR says I owe?

If you wish to dispute a tax or penalty assessed by DOR for which you were billed, you must file an application for abatement, either online through the dispute function on MassTaxConnect or by filing Form ABT. Most taxpayers can use MassTaxConnect to dispute an audit finding or a penalty by choosing "File a Dispute" under "I Want To" in their account for each tax type even if they did not file the original return electronically.

Keep in mind that some taxpayers are required to file applications for abatement electronically. Refer to TIR 16-9, Expansion and Restatement of Electronic Filing and Payment Requirements, to see if the electronic filing and payment requirements apply to you.

Are there time limits for filing an amended return or an application for abatement?

There are very strict time limits for filing an amended return to reduce the tax you originally reported and/or for filing an application for abatement to dispute a DOR assessment. There are also time limits for DOR to make assessments. These time limits are based on the law and allow for some finality for everyone.

You may file an application for abatement or an amended return to reduce your taxes at any time:

  • within three years from the date of filing the return (or the prescribed due date if the return is filed early),
  • within two years from the date the tax was assessed or deemed to be assessed, or
  • within one year from the date that the tax was paid, whichever is later.

When thinking about what the date of filing is, please keep the following in mind. Where a return is filed either on or before the original return due date (i.e., April 15th for most individual taxpayers), an application for abatement or an amended return may be filed within three years from such due date. However, where a return is filed after the due date (e.g., timely filed on extension or filed late), an application for abatement or an amended return may be filed within three years from the actual date of filing the return. The date of filing is the date that the taxpayer files a valid return, any subsequent amendments, correction or supplement thereof does not alter the date of filing.

A taxpayer seeking to amend a return related to a federal or state change should also refer to the time limitation contained in MGL c. 62C, § 30(federal change) or 30A(state change) and the section below “What if the IRS makes a change to my federal tax return?”

Finally, keep in mind that any credit and/or refund sought is also subject to the time limits for seeking a refund, which may be different from those articulated above. See MGL c. 62C, § 36 and the section below “Will I still get my refund if I file my return late?”

Will I still get my refund if I file my return late?

A claim for a refund or credit of an overpayment where a return which is required to be filed has not been timely filed, must be made by filing the overdue return showing a refund due:

  • within three years from the due date of the return, taking into account any extension of time for filing the return, or
  • within two years of the date that the tax was paid, whichever is later.

A request for a refund or credit of an overpayment of any tax where no return is required must be made within 2 years from the time the tax was paid. A request for a refund or credit of an overpayment of tax where the required return was timely filed must generally be made within the period permitted for abatement reference in the section above “Are there time limits for filing an amended return or an application for abatement?” Please note that even if the amended return and/or application for abatement is filed within the period permitted for abatement, no refund or credit of an overpayment will be granted if the payment was not made within the time limitations in MGL c. 62C, § 36.

See Refunds and credit of overpayments for more information.

What if the IRS makes a change to my federal tax return?

If you are contacted by the IRS about a federal change in your income taxes due for a prior year that impacts your Massachusetts taxes or credits, you as an individual taxpayer must inform DOR of the final change within one year by submitting an amended return. Corporate taxpayers must report the change in three months. You must indicate on the return that it relates to a federal change and/or federal audit and submit related documentation. You also must pay any additional amount due to avoid applicable penalty charges as well as additional interest charges. Finally, if the change reduces your Massachusetts taxes, you may be able to claim a refund related to a federal change by reporting the federal change and showing a refund due on your amended return within the applicable time limits.

What if I or my company has filed for bankruptcy?

DOR's Bankruptcy Unit can answer questions concerning how your bankruptcy filing affects payment of state taxes. For more information, call (617) 626-3875, or write to the Collections Bureau/Bankruptcy Unit, PO Box 9564, Boston, MA 02114-9564.

Learn about the different types of bankruptcy filings by visiting DOR's Bankruptcy page

I need help resolving an ongoing problem with DOR. Is there someone who can help me?

Most issues can be handled by the Contact Center via phone or e-mail; however, if you have a problem that began before the current tax year and has not been settled after at least two contacts with the Department, call or write DOR's Problem Resolution Office (PRO). More recent problems should be handled either through the bureau involved or through the Contact Center.

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.

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.

You also can seek resolution to an ongoing problem by contacting the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate. This office was created to ensure that taxpayer concerns are addressed fairly and expeditiously at the executive level. The Taxpayer Advocate is DOR's ombudsman, and 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.

To contact the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, please call (617) 626-2280, or write to the office at PO Box 9550, Boston, MA 02114-9550.

Where can I call if I think someone is not paying his or her taxes?

If you think someone is not paying his or her taxes, or have reason to believe that a business may not be collecting and/or reporting the appropriate tax, you should contact DOR's Tax Fraud Unit at (617) 887-6780. All information is kept completely confidential.

What if I want to complain about a DOR employee's conduct?

If you feel that a DOR employee was rude or unprofessional, you should ask to speak to a supervisor about the incident. You also can contact the Commissioner's Office directly at (617) 626-2201 to lodge a complaint.

If you feel that an employee may have behaved in an unethical or illegal manner, you should contact DOR immediately. To report allegations of suspected misconduct or impropriety involving DOR employees, please call DOR's Integrity Hotline at (800) 568-0085 or write to PO Box 9568, Boston, MA 02114-9568.

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