What is the Hearings Bureau?
The Hearings Bureau is an agency within the Department which provides a forum for appeals by taxpayers dissatisfied with a decision of the department for the Commissioner of Revenue Administration. It provides the final administrative opportunity for a taxpayer to confidentially present reasons why the Department's action is improper and for the Department to impartially evaluate those reasons and change its decision. Appeals are described in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, DRA-101. If the Department denies your claim for refund, your request for abatement of penalties or interest, or you do not agree with the assessment of additional tax, penalties or interest, you have the right to petition for reconsideration or redetermination which are the types of an appeal provided by law.
How do I appeal?
You must file a written petition with the Hearings Bureau within 60 days from the date of the written notice of assessment or denial. Your petition must be signed in ink by you or a person you have authorized by Power of Attorney to sign for you. It must contain the following information:
- (a) Your name or business, as applicable, address, social security or federal identification number, or department license number;
- (b) Name and address of your representative, if any;
- (c) A concise statement of the facts and issues involved, and the tax year involved;
- (d) The action you wish the department to take; and
- (e) The identification of any statutes, rules, orders, cases, or other authority that entitles you to have the Department act as requested.
You may file your petition by delivering it to the Department during normal business hours or by mailing it to the following address:
NH Dept. of Revenue Admin.
57 Regional Drive
PO Box 1467
Concord, NH 03302-1467
A petition sent by mail will be considered timely filed if placed in the United States mail and postmarked on or before the expiration of the 60 day period.
Who do I contact with questions?
If you have further questions about the administrative hearings process within the Department or if you need directions to the Hearings Bureau which is not located with the Department, please call the Hearings Bureau directly at 603-230-5002.
Can I represent myself?
Yes, you can represent yourself or have a representative such as a friend, accountant or lawyer represent you. You must authorize a representative to represent you by filing a Power of Attorney form with the Hearings Bureau or the Department. The forms are available from either the Bureau or the Department.
How does the appeal process work and how long does it take?
The following is a flow chart of the administrative appeal hearing process:
Department issues a tax notice (assessment of taxes, interest or penalties), or denial of refund.
Within 60 days: File written Petition for Redetermination or Reconsideration with the Hearings Bureau.
Bureau refers Petition to appropriate division of the Department for a response as required by State law.
Within 120 days: Division files its written response to the Petition denying the requested action, or agreeing to all or some of the taxpayer's request, and providing its reasons. A copy is sent to the taxpayer.
The Hearings Bureau schedules a date for an in person hearing and provides 60 days advance written notice of the date, time, place, issues to be decided by the hearing, and a brief summary of the appeal.
The Hearing is held, or the taxpayer waives an in person hearing and requests a Final Order be issued based on further written submissions or the record as it then stands. Time will be provided for additional written submissions if requested by the taxpayer or the Division before the record is closed.
Within approximately 60 days: A Final Order is issued by the Hearings Officer, approved by the Commissioner of Revenue
Administration, and written notice of the taxpayer's appeal rights outside the Department is provided.
The entire administrative appeal process takes approximately one year due to the time frames for each step provided by state law. It can be accomplished more quickly in some cases and it may take longer if the taxpayer wishes to enter into settlement negotiations with the Division involved.
Can I settle my appeal directly with the Department before having a hearing?
Yes. Settlement discussions are always encouraged and may be helpful to the taxpayer and the Department. If you request to have an informal discussion with the concerned Division through the Hearings Bureau you may be asked to waive your right to have the Division file its response to your Petition with the Bureau within the 120 day period provided by law by extending it in order to allow time for negotiations to take place. Your right to have a hearing is not affected by settlement negotiations if they are not successful.
How are hearings conducted?
Hearings may be of the trial type evidentiary hearing similar to those conducted in court, or may consist of oral argument or testimony only, depending on the issues to be resolved and the nature of the evidence to be presented, such as when the evidence consists only of documents. The formal rules of evidence do not apply in administrative hearings. There is a structure to the hearings, but every attempt is made to make them as informal and comfortable for the participants as possible, consistent with reasonable decorum and orderly presentation of the evidence and arguments to be considered. Hearings are not conducted in a courtroom and are presided over by a Hearing Officer who need not be addressed in the same way as a judge in court. Live witness testimony is taken under oath or affirmation. The procedure for hearings is basically as follows:
The Petitioner makes an opening statement and/or presents witnesses, testimony or other evidence. The Division may cross-examine the Petitioner and any witnesses.
The Division makes an opening statement and/or presents witnesses, testimony and other evidence. The Petitioner may cross examine the Division representatives or witnesses.
The Petitioner may summarize the appeal with a closing statement.
The Division may summarize the appeal with a closing statement.
Post hearing written submissions may be allowed by the Hearing Officer if the Petitioner or the Division wishes to submit any further argument or evidence. The Petitioner bears the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. All hearings are tape recorded and you may obtain a copy of the tape for the cost of copying it.
The hearing process is more fully described in rules adopted pursuant to state law by the Commissioner of Revenue Administration as NH Code of Administrative Rules part Rev 200. These are available by visiting the State Library or the this Web site by Laws and Rules page.
Do I have to pay an assessment by the Department before I can request a hearing?
No. However, if you pay a tax notice (assessment) interest stops accruing and you will save money whether you win or lose your appeal. If you win the disputed assessment will be refunded to you with interest on the amount as provided by law.
What can I do if I disagree with the final decision I receive from the Hearings Bureau?
If you do not agree with the final decision you receive from the Hearings Bureau, you have the right to appeal, within 30 days of the notice of the decision, by petitioning the Board of Tax and Land Appeals or the Superior Court in the county in which you reside or have a place of business. Appeals involving inheritance taxes are filed in the Probate Court in the county where the decedent resided. Certain other appeals, such as those involving Meals and Rentals Tax Operators have different time frames for appeals (10 days to the Superior Court in the county where the business is located). The Hearings Bureau will notify you of your further appeal rights in writing at the time it sends you a Final Order which is the Department's final decision on your appeal.
If I appeal the Department's Final Order , what are the differences between the Board of Tax and Land Appeals, the Superior Court, and the Probate Court?
Most types of appeals, such as Business Tax, Meals and Rentals or Tobacco tax, Interest and Dividend Tax, and others, may be appealed to either the Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) or the Superior Court for the county in which you reside or your business is located. The BTLA is less formal than the Superior Court and it operates under rules similar to those in the administrative appeal before the Department's Hearings Bureau. Therefore, it is a forum independent of the Department where a taxpayer may more easily represent himself or herself. The filing fee ($65) is also less than in Superior Court ($125). The Superior Court is a court of record where the formal rules of evidence apply. For most appeals, the BTLA appeal may be faster than one to the Superior Court. Whether the appeal is to the BTLA or the Superior Court, the decision of either tribunal may be further appealed to the N.H. Supreme Court. For appeals involving the inheritance taxes, or related penalties or interest, appeals must be taken to the Probate Court for the county where the decedent died as required by statute. Probate Court decisions are also appealable to the Supreme Court.
How do I get to the Hearings Bureau?
See the map on our Contact Page. Follow I-93 to Exit 15E. Take Exit 15E to 1-393 East. Proceed East on I-393 to Exit 3. Take Exit 3 to Route 106 South. Follow Route 106 South through 3 traffic lights approximately 2.1 miles. Turn right at the lights for Pembroke Road, take the first left onto Industrial Park Drive and then the first right on to Regional Drive. 57 Regional Drive is at the end of the building.
From I-89: Take I-89 South to the junction of I-93 North. Proceed North to Exit 15E, and then follow the directions above.
From Route 4 (202&9): Follow route 4 (202&9) West to the route 106 interchange. Go left on Route 106 South and follow the directions above.