The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has issued Administrative Procedure 635 regarding the Early Mediation Program, which expands the range of options for resolving tax disputes and, in appropriate cases, offers an expedited process. The pilot program is administered jointly by the Audit Division, the Legal Division, and the Office of Appeals. Use of the program in any particular case is optional for both the department and the taxpayer. Early mediation does not eliminate or replace existing administrative appeal options, including the taxpayer’s opportunity to request a pre-assessment conference, a post-assessment abatement hearing, and/or settlement consideration with the Office of Appeals if the case is not resolved through the early mediation process.
The program is a collaborative dispute resolution process, designed to resolve all issues in a disputed matter. A representative of the Office of Appeals, serving as mediator (and as a neutral participant in the mediation process), will assist the Audit Division and the taxpayer in understanding and evaluating the issues in dispute, in order to facilitate reaching an expeditious and mutually satisfactory resolution consistent with applicable law. The mediator also may recommend a settlement based on the mediator’s analysis of the issues. The mediator’s recommendation is not binding on either party. The mediator will make a recommendation only after he or she feels that the parties have made substantial and diligent efforts to settle the matter (or a particular issue) on their own.
Administrative Procedure 635 , Massachusetts Department of Revenue, December 27, 2012