Have a tax dispute with Pennsylvania? Appeals may be getting easier

20 December 2023- Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Rep. Tim Briggs (D-29) today announced bipartisan, pro-taxpayer legislation to streamline and improve the process of resolving disputes with the Department of Revenue (DOR).

The legislation, to be introduced this month, will allow the Board of Finance & Revenue (BF&R) to accept late-filed applications in certain circumstances and create a new settlement process for taxpayers as an alternative to the formal and lengthy court appeals process. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the NFIB, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), and the Pennsylvania Society of Enrolled Agents.

“Far too many Pennsylvania taxpayers have found themselves stuck in an unforgiving, bureaucratic tax appeal process – and it’s time for us to give them a way out. Some of the current rules are inflexible for no good reason. The legislation being introduced by Sen. Hutchinson and Rep. Briggs will result in a process that’s speedier and far less burdensome. This will be a huge step forward for taxpayers.”
 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity

“For far too long, many of us in the Legislature have heard from constituents who get caught in the tax appeals process. These bipartisan reforms will not only help taxpayers amicably and expeditiously resolve tax disputes but will also benefit the Commonwealth by resolving tax issues sooner, collecting tax liabilities quicker and directing valuable resources towards more complex cases.”
 Representative Tim Briggs (D-29)

“The PA Chamber advocates for tax reforms that embody the principles of competitiveness, predictability, fairness, and simplicity. This bipartisan proposal will make needed reforms to the tax appeals process and lead to a quicker and fairer resolution to disputes, which is in the best interest of taxpayers and the Commonwealth. We thank Treasurer Garrity, Senator Hutchinson, and Representative Briggs for their leadership on this important legislation.”
 Luke Bernstein, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Taxpayers who disagree with a final decision made by DOR currently have a strict 60-day deadline to appeal the decision to BF&R. That often leads to cases being dismissed on a technicality rather than being decided on the merits. The proposed legislation allows BF&R to accept late-filed applications if good cause is shown by the taxpayer and the reason permitting the late-filed appeal is agreed to by any other party.

This legislation also empowers BF&R to create a formal settlement process, which will allow more tax disputes to be resolved without a final Board decision – thus reducing litigation costs for taxpayers. Under current law, BF&R has no authority to direct a settlement process.

BF&R receives approximately 4,200 appeals annually. The Board must resolve each appeal within six months of its filing; otherwise, the underlying DOR decision is upheld. Currently, only about 13% of eligible appeals are resolved through settlement prior to an appeal before the Commonwealth Court.