Montana Administrative Register Notice 42-2-852 No. 19   10/14/2010    
Prev Next





In the matter of the adoption of New Rules I, II, and III relating to the functions and operation of the office of taxpayer assistance






TO:  All Concerned Persons


1.  On November 3, 2010, at 1:30 p.m., a public hearing will be held in the Third Floor Reception Area Conference Room of the Sam W. Mitchell Building, at Helena, Montana, to consider the adoption of the above-stated rules.

Individuals planning to attend the hearing shall enter the building through the east doors of the Sam W. Mitchell Building, 125 North Roberts, Helena, Montana.


2.  The Department of Revenue will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this public hearing or need an alternative accessible format of this notice.  If you require an accommodation, contact the Department of Revenue no later than 5:00 p.m., October 25, 2010, to advise us of the nature of the accommodation that you need.  Please contact Cleo Anderson, Department of Revenue, Director's Office, P.O. Box 7701, Helena, Montana 59604-7701; telephone (406) 444-5828; fax (406) 444-4375; or e-mail canderson@mt.gov.


3.  The proposed new rules do not replace or modify any section currently found in the Administrative Rules of Montana.  The proposed new rules provide as follows:


NEW RULE I  DEFINITIONS  The following definitions apply to terms used in this subchapter:

(1)  "Complaint" means a taxpayer's allegation of improper or abusive behavior by an employee of the department.

(2)  "Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR)" means the department's dispute resolution office.   This office handles disputes that cannot be resolved at a lower level within the department.

(3)  "Office of Taxpayer Assistance (OTA)" means the department's independent office that assists taxpayers and advocates on behalf of their needs.

(4)  "Problem" means a taxpayer's procedural issue or dispute with the service or inefficiency of the Department of Revenue.  It does not include issues of fact or law that are considered by the department's Office of Dispute Resolution.


AUTH:  15-1-201, 15-1-217, MCA

IMP:  15-1-211, 15-1-222, 15-1-223, MCA


REASONABLE NECESSITY:  The department is proposing to adopt New Rule I to provide definitions for the terms used in the rules related to the Taxpayer Assistance Program, which are not defined in statute.


NEW RULE II  PURPOSE  (1)  Section 15-1-223, MCA, creates within the Department of Revenue, the Office of Taxpayer Assistance (OTA).  The OTA has five major purposes which are to:

(a)  assist taxpayers with problems and provide easily understandable tax information related to:

(i)  instructions and forms;

(ii)  audits and corrections;

(iii)  collections; and

(iv)  appeal procedures.

(b)  monitor compliance with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, as required in 15-1-222, MCA;

(c)  receive and evaluate complaints of improper or abusive behavior by employees and make recommendations to the director regarding appropriate actions to be taken;

(d)  monitor and report any abuses in collection activities and make recommendations to the director of appropriate actions to be taken; and

(e)  perform other functions that will assist taxpayers with their compliance of the Montana's tax laws.


AUTH:  15-1-201, MCA

IMP:  15-1-222, 15-1-223, MCA


REASONABLE NECESSITY:  The department is proposing to adopt New Rule II to provide clear and helpful information to taxpayers concerning the purposes of the Taxpayer Assistance Office.  The rule outlines the primary functions of this office as it relates to services offered to the taxpayers who do business with the Department of Revenue.


NEW RULE III  PROCEDURE  (1)  The OTA is independent of the department's divisions and reports directly to the director.

(2)  The OTA intercedes on a priority basis on behalf of taxpayers when the department's normal procedures and communications with taxpayers break down, especially concerning citizen rights guaranteed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

(3)  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.  Whether staff is responsible for processing returns, conducting audits, appraising property, maintaining records, collecting taxes, or other work, all staff is expected to meet the needs of the public 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.  In the limited cases where staff or supervisors cannot solve problems, the matter may be referred by the director to the OTA for handling.

(4)  Referrals to the OTA are generally instances where the taxpayer has first tried unsuccessfully to resolve the problem through the department's normal channels.  Referrals come from the director's office, legislators, and other agencies, especially the Governor's Citizen Advocate Office, but normally go first through the director.  The OTA also receives direct calls and referrals through the department's call center.

(5)  The OTA works with the taxpayer until the problem is resolved and often convenes division and bureau experts to assist with additional reviews.  The OTA compiles data on the number and type of taxpayer problems and complaints received and evaluates the actions taken to resolve these problems or complaints.

(6)  The OTA works with the director's office, divisions, bureaus, and units to provide easily understandable information for taxpayers on taxes, audits, corrections, collections, and appeal procedures.  It advocates for clarity and usefulness in all forms of communication, especially for clearer and simpler letters, forms, reports, and web site content.

(7)  The OTA relies on the department's divisions, especially the Citizen Services and Resource Management Division and its call center, to answer taxpayer questions regarding:

(a)  preparing and filing returns and reports;

(b)  Montana statutes administered by the department,

(c)  understanding correspondence and assessments;

(d)  locating documents and payments;

(e)  compiling data on problems received; and

(f)  conducting taxpayer surveys to obtain evaluations of the quality of service provided by the department.

(8)  The OTA receives, evaluates, and responds to complaints from taxpayers related to improper or abusive behavior by employees of the department within 60 days unless the period is mutually extended.  The major points in a complaint must be made in writing and taxpayer conferences on these issues are informal and confidential.  The complaints are recorded, unless requested otherwise, and a copy is provided to the taxpayer.  The OTA reports its recommendations to the director and the taxpayer.

(9)  The OTA monitors the department's collection activities, immediately addresses any abuses, and recommends to the director whether a collection activity should be stopped if the taxpayer has not had an adequate opportunity to discuss alternative means of making payments.

(10)  The functions of the OTA are distinguished from the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR), which is an adjudicatory office considering and resolving issues of fact and law for matters under the department's jurisdiction and finalizes the department's decisions on contested maters.  In instances where a problem or complaint cannot be resolved through the OTA, this office provides guidance to the taxpayer concerning further proceedings before the ODR.  Taxpayers are directed to the ODR rules and procedures found in ARM 42.2.613 through 42.2.621.


AUTH:  15-1-201, MCA

IMP:  15-1-222, 15-1-223, MCA


REASONABLE NECESSITY:  The department is proposing to adopt New Rule III to provide the procedures that are utilized by the taxpayer and the OTA regarding referrals to the OTA.  The rule explains the various areas of taxation that the OTA can assist the taxpayers with, and addresses the various monitoring aspects of the office.  The rule further explains the importance of resolving matters at the lowest possible level, and in the instances when this cannot be achieved, the necessary steps to move the matter forward.

In addition, the rule distinguishes the functions of the Office of Taxpayer Assistance from the Office of Dispute Resolution.  The rule directs taxpayers to the rules governing the Office of Dispute Resolution if there is a need to file an appeal.


4.  Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments, either orally or in writing, at the hearing.  Written data, views, or arguments may also be submitted to: Cleo Anderson, Department of Revenue, Director's Office, P.O. Box 7701, Helena, Montana 59604-7701; telephone (406) 444-5828; fax (406) 444-4375; or e-mail canderson@mt.gov and must be received no later than November 12, 2010.


5.  Cleo Anderson, Department of Revenue, Director's Office, has been designated to preside over and conduct the hearing.


6.  An electronic copy of this Notice of Public Hearing is available through the department's site on the World Wide Web at www.mt.gov/revenue, under "for your reference"; "DOR administrative rules"; and "upcoming events and proposed rule changes."  The department strives to make the electronic copy of this Notice of Public Hearing conform to the official version of the notice, as printed in the Montana Administrative Register, but advises all concerned persons that in the event of a discrepancy between the official printed text of the notice and the electronic version of the notice, only the official printed text will be considered.  In addition, although the department strives to keep its web site accessible at all times, concerned persons should be aware that the web site may be unavailable during some periods, due to system maintenance or technical problems.


7.  The Department of Revenue maintains a list of interested persons who wish to receive notices of rulemaking actions proposed by this agency.  Persons who wish to have their name added to the list shall make a written request, which includes the name and e-mail or mailing address of the person to receive notices and specifies that the person wishes to receive notices regarding particular subject matter or matters.  Notices will be sent by e-mail unless a mailing preference is noted in the request.  Such written request may be mailed or delivered to the person in 4 above or faxed to the office at (406) 444-4375, or may be made by completing a request form at any rules hearing held by the Department of Revenue.


8.  The bill sponsor contact requirements of 2-4-302, MCA, apply and have been fulfilled.  The primary bill sponsor of House Bill 257 (2007), Representative Bob Lake was contacted on October 1, 2010, by electronic mail.





/s/  Cleo Anderson                            /s/  Dan R. Bucks

CLEO ANDERSON                          DAN R. BUCKS

Rule Reviewer                                   Director of Revenue


Certified to Secretary of State October 4, 2010


Home  |   Search  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Help  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy & Security