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Pursuing a Massachusetts tax abatement

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2021 | Internal Revenue Service

While federal taxes take the largest bite out of most taxpayers’ income, it’s also important to remember that state taxes are also an important consideration for Massachusetts taxpayers.

Just like with federal taxes, penalties and interest levied against late taxpayers by the state can quickly balloon. Thankfully, an experienced Massachusetts tax lawyer may be able to help by securing an abatement through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR).

Abatement of state taxes

An abatement means that some (or even all) penalties levied against a taxpayer may be forgiven. There are a variety of ways your Massachusetts tax attorney could qualify you for an abatement, all of which typically fall under the category of reasonable cause.

Possible scenarios that could qualify as a reasonable cause might include:

  • Unavailability of the taxpayer; rather than willfully ignoring tax obligations, the taxpayer was unable to respond (for example, the taxpayer was incarcerated, hospitalized, an active military service member, etc.)
  • Death or serious illness
  • The taxpayer received false or incorrect information from a tax agent or tax professional
  • Relevant documents were not readily accessible by the taxpayer
  • Miscellaneous: Massachusetts will consider virtually any reasonable, good-faith circumstances that could impact the taxpayer’s ability to respond or repay.

Qualifying for a Massachusetts tax abatement

To qualify for abatement, in general, the taxpayer’s return must be filed prior to the request for abatement, and the abatement request must be filed within three years of the tax return’s due date or two years of the tax assessment notice.

There is additional information the taxpayer must also provide, which may also depend on the circumstances of the abatement. Here, your Massachusetts tax attorney can ensure your request is filed promptly, correctly, and with all the required documentation.

Offer in Final Settlement

It is also possible that your tax attorney may be able to settle your final tax bill for less than was originally assessed. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue is authorized to accept a reduced amount “if there is doubt as to whether the original tax amount could be collected.”

This settlement could mean, for example, that there is a reasonable doubt that the assessed tax is not correct, and the taxpayer is therefore not liable. It may also be implemented if there is doubt that the taxpayer can afford to pay the amount owed in full like if taxes owed exceed what the taxpayer could reasonably be expected to pay.

In any event, seeking abatement through the state of Massachusetts can be just as confusing, complex, and frustrating as dealing with the IRS. Your Massachusetts tax attorney will know the best way to proceed and maximize your odds of securing a favorable resolution to your tax troubles.


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