Is the Massachusetts Department of Revenue really that bad?

Welcome to ‘A Tax Blog’. The goal of this experiment is to focus only on tax practice and procedure, and to act as a virtual ‘think tank of shared ideas’ with respect to happenings in the area of practicing before the Internal Revenue Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

So allow me to jump right in and discuss the white elephant in the room…

Is the Massachusetts Department of Revenue really that bad?

As a practitioner, I say yes, big time. But don’t take my word for it…

CFO Magazine says so. In fact, CFO Magazine has ranked Massachusetts Department of Revenue at the bottom five of all 50 states in a 2009 survey conducted with approximately 160 CFO’s throughout the country. Overall, Massachusetts finished 49th in that study.  Only California fared worse.

CEO Magazine says the same in a 2010 survey.  In all fairness, however, that survey included, in addition to taxes, other criteria such as regulation, workforce quality and living environment. However, finishing 47th in the CEO study isn’t confidence inspiring. Who did worse? States like New Jersey, Michigan, and California.

From a practice and procedure standpoint, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue could use some work. In fact, they could use a lot of work.

Massachusetts DOR ‘Total Makeover’ Part One. Where to start? Hmmm.

How about with certified mailings for time sensitive data, Massachusetts?
I simply cannot believe that with time sensitive data, such as a Notice of Intention to Assess (30 days to file an appeal with the Office of Appeals), or a Notice of Abatement Determination (60 days to file an appeal with the Appellate Tax Board), such notices are NOT sent certified mail. If the applicable time period lapses, a Massachusetts Taxpayer is basically defenseless.

The Internal Revenue Service does it. The Notice of Deficiency (90 days to docket the case in U.S. Tax Court) and the Final Notice of Intent to Levy (30 days to file for a Collection Due Process Hearing), to my very limited knowledge, are two time sensitive documents that are generally sent to the taxpayer with certified mail.

What is being done about this?

Well, we had the opportunity to address it with our local delegation, and as luck would have it, Senate Bill S.1415 is being finalized as we speak, to address this very issue! And ‘yours truly’ was kindly approached to produce written testimony as to the prudence of utilizing certified mail in these time sensitive communications. The quintessential ‘no brainer’.

My letter to the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Revenue: State House Letter.

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