What happens after I file an appeal?
When the Appeals Division receives an appeal, it:
- Acknowledges receipt with a letter. (If the petition is not received timely, the Department will inform you that the appeal has been dismissed.)
- Places the amount of protested tax, interest, and penalty on hold until the appeal is resolved.
- Determines the type of appeal (see discussion later in this Guide as to types of appeals).
- Contacts the appropriate division for
a response to the petition.
- May request additional information from you or the operating division.
- Assigns the appeal to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Who will consider my appeal?
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Appeals Division will consider your appeal. The ALJ:
- Is an attorney employed by the Department who is trained in the interpretation of the Revenue Act and precedents established by published rulings and court decisions.
- Provides a fresh review of agency actions on behalf of the Department.
- As needed, meets separately with the taxpayer and Department staff in order to understand and develop the facts and legal arguments. Documents provided by one party are shared with the other party.
- Has the decision reviewed for consistency before it is issued.
What happens after the case is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?
Once the case is assigned, the ALJ will:
- Review the file and research the case.
- Contact you or another division in the Department for further information, if needed.
- Decide whether a hearing is necessary. (In some cases, a pre-hearing conference may be needed.)
- Schedule when additional documents or written arguments must be submitted.
- Schedule and conduct a hearing, if necessary.
- Contact you or a division in the Department for post-hearing information, and conduct more research if needed.
- Draft a decision and submit it for review.
- Issue the decision.
Will a hearing be held on my appeal?
A hearing is held on most, but not all, appeals. The ALJ may issue a written decision without holding a hearing when:
- The facts are not in dispute.
- The issues are clearly identified.
- The law has been applied to similar situations in previous decisions.
- You request that no hearing be held.
If the ALJ decides a hearing is needed, you will be notified of the scheduled time and place. The letter will also explain when you should submit any additional documents.
What kind of hearing can I expect?
The ALJ will decide whether the hearing will be in-person or by telephone. In-person hearings are held at the Olympia or Seattle office.
Can I ask for a hearing to be in person or by telephone?
Yes. The ALJ will try to accommodate your request.
What happens if the hearing date or time needs to be changed?
If the hearing date or time must be changed, contact the ALJ as soon as possible. If reasonable, the ALJ will usually accommodate the change.
Will I be under oath?
No. Hearings are informal. You will not be placed under oath and the hearing will not be recorded.
Who can attend a hearing?
People permitted to attend a hearing are:
- One or more ALJs
- The taxpayer
- The taxpayer's representative
- Fact witnesses
- Any other person brought by the taxpayer with the ALJ's previous consent
- Department employees, with the ALJ's consent
The hearing is not open to the public.
What happens during the hearing?
During the hearing:
- The ALJ will discuss the appeals process and answer any of your questions.
- You or your witnesses will be asked to testify about the facts and documents in support of your claim.
- You or your representative will also be asked to explain how the law supports your claim.
- You will be asked for any concluding statements.
Throughout the process, the ALJ may ask questions, discuss points of law, and ask for additional documents.
Can additional documents or written arguments be filed during or after a hearing?
You must make every effort to produce documents and file written arguments as scheduled by the ALJ. If you or the Department fail to comply with a scheduling letter or established timelines, the ALJ may decline to consider arguments or documents submitted after the scheduled timelines. But if you find you need to file additional material and the ALJ finds good cause and allows you to do so, such material usually must be submitted within 30 days after the hearing. The Department would then have 15 days to respond to the new material. ALJs also have the discretion to allow additional time for further fact finding, including scheduling an additional hearing, as necessary in a particular case.
How is the Department's case made if no one from the Department attends the hearing?
The Department's case is usually made by the division whose action you are appealing. That division usually submits to the Appeals Division a written response to your petition and to any additional documents or arguments you make during the appeal process. If the division presents additional documents or arguments, it will provide them to you for your response. The Appeals Division provides the dates for submitting such documents and arguments.
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