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Office of Tax Appeals cleanup legislation enacted

September 20, 2017

AB 131 (Ch. 17-252) clarifies various issues related to the new Office of Tax Appeals, which will begin hearing income and franchise tax and most business tax appeals beginning January 1, 2018. Among the numerous amendments, the bill clarifies:

  • The five-member Board of Equalization will only hear those appeals related to income and franchise and most business tax cases that are scheduled on their calendar prior to January 1, 2018, and only if the appeal  will be heard, determined, decided or is otherwise final before January 1, 2018. (Gov’t. Code §15600) All other appeals will be heard by the Office of Tax Appeals administrative law judge (ALJ)  panels beginning January 1, 2018 (Note: The Board can decide cases currently scheduled on the calendar for hearing prior to January 1, 2018. Petitions for rehearing filed now will take several months so will be heard by the Office of Tax Appeals);
  • As to who may practice before the Office of Tax Appeals, the bill specifies that both CPAs and public accountants may represent clients before an ALJ panel. (Gov’t. Code §15676) The bill makes it clear that all those who currently represent taxpayers before the five-member Board can continue to do so. This includes anyone over the age of 18 authorized by the taxpayer, and while it doesn’t specify Enrolled Agents, this expansive provision encompasses Enrolled Agents; and
  • The Office of Tax Appeals may establish objective criteria under which a taxpayer may request a closed hearing. (Gov’t. Code §15676.5)
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