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05/22/2024 08:02 PM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2023 09:34 AM
From: Senator Scott E. Hutchinson
To: All Senate members
Subject: Improving the Pennsylvania Board of Finance and Revenue Appeals Process
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that if enacted, would help taxpayers in resolving disputes with the Department of Revenue (DOR). Specifically, the proposed legislation would; (1) permit the Board of Finance and Revenue to consider late filed tax appeals from the DOR, and (2) create a settlement process for taxpayers as an alternative to the formal and lengthy court appeals process. This taxpayer-friendly initiative would establish a more equitable tax appeal process and permit a faster resolution to a tax dispute.
The Pennsylvania Board of Finance and Revenue (BF&R) is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that is statutorily charged with hearing and resolving appeals from final decisions of the DOR that involve most all types of tax disputes. The Board is composed of three members – 2 appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and the Chair designated by the State Treasurer. Currently, BF&R does not have the legal authority to accept late filed appeals by individual taxpayers. Taxpayers who disagree with a final decision of the DOR have only 60 days to appeal the decision to BF&R.
Another challenge for taxpayers is the absence of a Board directed settlement process that could expedite a resolution of the appeal. Many appeals from final DOR decisions are settled, but only after the dispute has made its way to the Commonwealth Court, following a decision by BF&R. Unfortunately, BF&R does not possess the statutory authority to direct and oversee a formal settlement process when appropriate.
This legislation being proposed would authorize the Board to accept appeals filed past the 60 days period if, in the opinion of the Board that (1) there has been good cause shown by the taxpayer; and (2) the Commonwealth (DOR) would not be harmed by accepting the appeal. This equitable authority, similar to what is already granted to and exercised by most state courts, would permit BF&R to consider appeals that may otherwise never be considered because circumstances beyond the control of the taxpayer prevented the appeal from being timely filed.
Importantly, this bill would empower BF&R to direct and oversee a formal settlement process for any tax appeal that would benefit from this procedure. Either the Board or a party may request the appeal to be submitted for a possible settlement. The settlement process would pause the Board’s consideration of the appeal so that the parties are able to focus their efforts on reaching a settled resolution. The Board would retain independent settlement officers to oversee settlement discussions and any resulting settlement would be voluntary, with no additional cost imposed on the taxpayer. This taxpayer-friendly solution also positively benefits the Commonwealth by resolving tax issues sooner, collecting tax liabilities quicker and directing valuable resources towards more complex cases.  

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to make it more equitable for all Pennsylvanians who are caught in the tax appeals process and allow them to receive a fair chance at amicably resolving their tax disputes. If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Matt Deegan in my office at 717-787-9684 or mdeegan@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB1051