After a request is received
When the Administrative Review and Hearings receives your request, it:
- Acknowledges receipt with a letter. (If the petition is not received timely, the Department will inform you that the request has been dismissed.)
- Places the amount of protested tax, interest, and penalty on hold until the review is resolved.
- Contacts the appropriate division for a response to the petition.
- May request additional information from you or the operating division.
- Assigns the review to a Tax Review Officer (TRO).
Tax Review Officer
A Tax Review Officer (TRO) in the Administrative Review and Hearings Division will consider your request. The TRO:
- 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. That review is not independent.
- 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.
- The TRO’s review may include looking at additional research about your business activities related to the tax issue under review.
Review of your petition
Once the case is assigned, the TRO will:
- Review the file and decide whether a hearing is necessary. (In some cases, a pre-hearing conference may be needed.)
- Provide a schedule for submission of any additional documents or written argument.
- Refer appropriate settlement offers from you to the Settlement coordinator.
- Research the case.
- Contact you or another division in the Department for further information, if needed.
- Draft a decision and submit it for review.
- Issue the decision.
When to hold a hearing
A hearing is held in many, but not all, cases. The TRO 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.
- You requested a review of an adverse letter ruling from the Taxpayer Information and Education section of the Department.
If the TRO 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.
The TRO will decide whether the hearing will be in-person or by telephone. In-person hearings are held at the Tumwater or Seattle office. The TRO will try to accommodate your hearing preferences.
Change the time or date of your hearing
If the hearing date or time must be changed, contact the TRO as soon as possible. If reasonable, the TRO will usually accommodate the change so long as the hearing is within a reasonable time frame.
Hearings are informal. You will not be placed under oath and the hearing will not be recorded.
People permitted to attend a hearing are:
- One or more TROs
- The taxpayer
- The taxpayer's representative
- Fact witnesses
- Any other person brought by the taxpayer with the TRO's previous consent
- Department employees, with the TRO's consent
The hearing is not open to the public.
During the hearing:
- The TRO will discuss the review process and answer any of your questions.
- You or your witnesses will be asked to talk 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.
Throughout the process, the TRO may ask questions, discuss points of law, and ask for additional documents.
Deadline to submit additional documents or written arguments
You must make every effort to submit documents with your petition and file any additional documents and written arguments as scheduled by the TRO. If you or the Department fail to comply with a scheduling letter or established timelines, the TRO may decline to consider arguments or documents submitted after the scheduled timelines. But if you find you need to file additional material and the TRO allows you to do so, such material usually must be submitted within 30 days after the hearing. TROs also have the discretion to allow additional time for further fact finding, including scheduling an additional hearing, as necessary in a particular case.
The Department's response to your petition
The Department's case is usually made by the division whose action you are seeking review of. That division usually submits a written response to your petition and to any additional documents or arguments you make during the review process. If the division presents additional documents or arguments, it will provide them to you for your response. The TRO provides the dates for submitting such documents and arguments.