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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q. What are the normal channels of problem solving?

A. The Department seeks to resolve all questions and problems at the lowest possible level, especially through the regular activities of staff working directly with citizens and its toll-free Citizen Call Center at (866) 859-2254. You can use the toll free number to obtain answers to questions or to be referred to a staff person you have been working with. Whether staff is responsible for processing returns, conducting audits, appraising property, maintaining records, collecting taxes due, or other work, all staff is expected to meet your needs in a respectful manner consistent with relevant laws, rules, and procedures. When staff members are unable to answer questions or resolve problems, those matters are typically referred to division supervisors or specialists or elevated by the taxpayer to the appeal process described above.

Take advantage of this process of having the people working directly with you address your concerns. You can do this by reading your mail from the Department when it arrives and calling the staff listed in the correspondence. This is the surest way to answer your questions and maximize the help and flexibility the Department can give you in addressing your problems and worries.

Q. I have been unable to resolve a tax problem through the Department’s normal channels. Where do I go now?

A. The Office of Taxpayer Assistance is independent of the Department’s divisions so it can provide impartial service. The office works to resolve taxpayer issues after the usual channels of problem solving have been exhausted or communications with the Department have broken down. The office handles a taxpayer’s procedural issues or disputes with the service or inefficiency of the Department, especially those concerning citizen rights guaranteed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The office also receives complaints about improper or abusive behavior by an employee of the Department. The office can help you understand the options and procedures available to resolve your issue. The office does not address issues of fact or law that are considered by the Department’s Office of Dispute Resolution. Nor can the office change applications of law or grant relief from taxes that are legally due.

Q. How do I contact the Office of Taxpayer Assistance?

A. If you have a tax problem that is not in litigation or subject to enforcement action, and you have not been able to resolve the matter through normal channels, you may email Kristan Barbour, Office of Taxpayer Assistance, at kbarbour@mt.gov, call her at (406) 444-2762, or write to:

Office of Taxpayer Assistance
Montana Department of Revenue
PO Box 5805, Helena, MT 59605-5805.

Q. What can I expect from the Office of Taxpayer Assistance?

A. The Taxpayer Assistance Officer will listen to your point of view and work with you to address your concerns. You can expect the Taxpayer Assistance Officer to provide you with:
-An impartial look at your problem;
-Timely acknowledgment;
-The name and phone number of the individual assigned to your case;
-Updates on progress;
-Time frames for action;
-Timely resolution;
-Courteous service; and
-Confidentiality of tax information.

Q. What information should I provide to the Office of Taxpayer Assistance?

A. Please provide the following information:
-Your name, address, and social security number or business tax registration number;
-Your telephone number and the hours you can be reached;
-Your previous attempts to solve the problem, and the person and office you contacted;
-The type of tax return and year(s) involved; and
-Description of the problem with any substantiating documentation.

If you want to authorize another person to discuss the matter with the agency, download Form POA - Power of Attorney, and send it to the Office of Taxpayer Assistance. However, we will continue to send all correspondence directly to the taxpayer.


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Other Information


Reasonable Cause for Waiver of Penalty and Interest

To qualify for a waiver due to reasonable cause, you need to show that you exercised ordinary business care and prudence, but were still unable to file a tax return within a given time. We determine whether reasonable cause exists on a case-by-case basis. The law looks to the intervention of some condition, occurrence, or event which the taxpayer was in no position to reasonably anticipate. However, the requirements are construed in favor of collecting the penalty and interest. Forgetfulness or inadvertence do not qualify, nor does a lack of knowledge of the law or inability to pay a tax. Please see a complete description of the requirements and a few examples of instances that do and do not qualify as reasonable cause (ARM 42.3.105).

Taxpayer Bill of Rights - Link to Montana Code Annotated (15-1-222. Taxpayer Bill of Rights)

Applicable Administrative Rules

The following administrative rules have been adopted to help provide guidance regarding the appeals process and the request for waiver of penalty and interest:

42.2.510 - Review of Statement of Account Notices
This administrative rule details the applicable timelines for submitting an appeal and related information regarding the appeal process.

42.2.613 through 42.2.621 - Dispute Resolution
These administrative rules provide information regarding the appeal to the Office of Dispute Resolution, including the timelines and the process involved.

42.3.101 through 42.3.120 - Waiver of Penalty and Interest
These rules provide guidance regarding the waiver of penalty and interest, including what qualifies as “reasonable cause” for the consideration of a waiver. For example, 42.3.115 explains reasonable cause for waiver of the late payment penalty for amended tax returns and, also, for payment of debt within 30 days of the original Statement of Account.


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Tax Appeal Forms


APLS101F - Request for Informal Review of State Taxes

If you object to your notice of assessment, refund reduction, or other determination or decision, you may request an informal review by the Department’s Business and Income Taxes Division. State law requires that your objection be in writing. For your convenience, Form APLS101F is available for you to complete and file your objection, but a separate written objection will be accepted provided that similar information is included.

APLS102F - Notice of Referral to the Office of Dispute Resolution

If you do not agree with the determination that the Business and Income Taxes Division makes as a result of its informal review, you will need to file this form within 15 days of the date of that determination. For your convenience, Form APLS102F is available for you to complete and file your appeal, but a separate written objection will be accepted provided that similar information is included.

POA - Power of Attorney

Use this form to authorize one or more individuals to represent you before the Department of Revenue. This authorization allows your representative(s) to receive and inspect confidential tax information and to act on your behalf in matters before the Department. Federal Form 2848 is also acceptable so long as it states “Montana” on the form. This power of attorney does not change the requirement that the Department send all official mailings directly to you, the taxpayer.


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Reference Guide


Payment Options

Please contact our Citizen Services Call Center to discuss payment options:

Helena Local: (406) 444-6900

Toll Free: 1 (866) 859-2254

TDD: (406) 444-2830

Appeals

If you disagree with a notice of assessment, notice of proposed disallowance of a claim for refund, or other determination or decision by the Department of Revenue, you may file a written appeal. We will work with you to resolve any outstanding issues, but cannot disregard Montana tax laws in order to settle a dispute.

Representation

You are not required to hire a lawyer or other tax representative in order to participate in an appeal before the Department of Revenue. You may represent yourself or you may have someone represent you at every stage of the appeal proceedings within the department. If you appeal beyond the Department of Revenue you will have to represent yourself or hire an attorney. No non-attorney representation is allowed at the State Tax Appeal Board or in District Court.

Use Form POA - (Power of Attorney) to authorize one or more individuals to represent you before the Department of Revenue. This authorization allows your representative(s) to receive and inspect confidential tax information and to act on your behalf in matters before the department. This power of attorney does not change the requirement that department send all official mailings directly to you, the taxpayer.

Constitutional Issues

As an administrative agency, the Department of Revenue cannot decide constitutional issues. Constitutional issues are usually decided by a Montana district court, on appeal from a State Tax Appeal Board decision or, when exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required, in an original action filed in district court for that purpose. Constitutional issues should, however, always be raised in Department of Revenue appeals. There are a number of reasons for this, including that the department and hearing examiner should understand all of a taxpayer’s concerns. Also, constitutional issues often involve mixed questions of fact and law and an appeals court may find that a taxpayer has failed to exhaust administrative remedies if facts related to a constitutional challenge are not established in the administrative proceedings.

Reference Guide - for Tax Appeal Process

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About the Tax Appeal Process


Please note that this appeals process is in place for all tax types except for locally assessed property tax appeals. For information regarding the locally assessed property tax appeals process, please click here.

You have the right to appeal decisions that you disagree with, especially decisions about the taxes you owe or that you feel should be refunded. The appeals process is important and we encourage you to use it if you have an objection. Everyone should pay their share of taxes, no more and no less, and we need to be informed of our errors. You have several avenues to follow throughout the appeals process, which you can read about below or get more detail from the Tax Appeals - Reference Guide and Steps to Take.

Informal Review

This is the place to start. More than 90 percent of disagreements are settled with an informal review. If you disagree with a notice from us, you’ll need to file a written objection within 30 days from the date of the first notice. For your convenience, you can download a form by clicking on the Forms tab above and downloading a form specifically designed for this purpose. The informal review is effective because a department supervisor reviews your case and the work of any employees involved. Specific instructions on how to request an informal review are located under the Reference Guide.

Office of Dispute Resolution

If you disagree with the outcome of the informal review, the Office of Dispute Resolution is your next avenue. Nearly all of the remaining objections with the department are settled here. You need to file a written objection with the Office of Dispute Resolution within 30 days of the outcome of the informal review in step 1. There is a form specifically designed for this step as well. Located under the Forms tab above.

The first part of this step is a scheduling conference, often held by telephone. After that, you may appear before a hearing officer who is independent of other department staff members. The decision from the Office of Dispute Resolution is considered the Department of Revenue’s final decision. If you disagree with the decision, you may make your case to the appeal bodies outside the Department of Revenue. Read specific instructions in the Tax Appeals - Reference Guide and Steps to Take on how to file an appeal with the Office of Dispute Resolution.

Montana State Tax Appeal Board - District Court - Montana Supreme Court

Steps three through five involve the State Tax Appeal Board, the District Court and the Montana Supreme Court. Taxpayers usually resolve disputes well before this stage and appeal very few decisions to these bodies. The State Tax Appeal Board guarantees your right to have your dispute weighed by a panel that is fully independent of the Department of Revenue, and is simpler and less expensive than going to court. Ultimately, you can appeal to the courts. This gives you the ability to have a judicial body determine whether the decision made by the Department of Revenue is fair and appropriate. (View additional information regarding the State Tax Appeals Board, the Montana District Court and the Montana Supreme Court.)