Taxpayers Bill of Rights
PA Act 50 requires taxing municipalities to prepare a statement setting forth the rights of taxpayers. There are rights accorded a taxpayer by PA Act 50 that apply whenever a municipality requests information from you, whenever a suspected tax over- or underpayment occurs, whenever a petition of appeal is filed, and during certain other instances. This statement, based on PA Act 50, attempts to set forth those rights.
1. Requests of a Taxpayer by Municipality.
(a) Minimum time periods for taxpayer response.
(1) The taxpayer shall have at least 30 calendar days from the mailing date to respond to requests for information by Hampden Township or its authorized agent (hereinafter "the Township"). The Township shall grant additional reasonable extensions upon application for good cause.
(2) The Township shall notify the taxpayer of the procedures to obtain an extension in its initial request.
(3) The Township shall take no lawful action against a taxpayer for the tax year in question until the expiration of the applicable response period, including extensions.
(b) Request for Prior Year Returns.
(1) Except as provided in Paragraph (2) below, an initial inquiry by the Township regarding a taxpayer's payment of tax may include taxes required to be paid or tax returns required to be filed no more than three years prior to the mailing date of the notice.
(2) The Township may make a subsequent request for a tax return or supporting information if, after the initial request, the Township determines that the taxpayer failed to file a tax return, underreported income or failed to pay a tax for one or more of the tax periods covered by the initial request.
Subparagraph (b) above shall not apply if the Township already has sufficient information to indicate that the taxpayer failed to file a required return or pay tax which was due more than three years prior to the date of the notice.
(c) Use of Federal tax information. The Township may require a taxpayer to provide copies of the taxpayer's Federal individual income tax return if the Township can demonstrate that the Federal tax information is reasonably necessary for the enforcement or collection of local tax and the information is not available from other available sources or the Department of Revenue.
2. Refunds of Overpayments.
(a) General Rule. A taxpayer who believes an overpayment has been made of a tax to the Township may file a written request with the Township for refund or credit of the tax. A request for refund shall be made within three years of the due date for filing the report as extended or one year after actual payment of the eligible tax, whichever is later. If no report is required, the request shall be made within three years after the due date for payment of the tax or within one year after actual payment of the tax, whichever is later.
(1) A tax return filed by the taxpayer with the Township showing an overpayment of tax shall be deemed to be a written request for a cash refund unless otherwise indicated on the tax return.
(2) A request for refund shall not be considered a petition under Paragraph 7 below (relating to administrative appeals) and shall not preclude a taxpayer from submitting a petition under Paragraph 8 below (relating to petitions).
(b) Notice of Underpayment. For amounts believed to be overpaid as a result of a notice asserting or informing a taxpayer of an underpayment, a written request for refund shall be filed with the Township within one year of the date of the payment.
3. Interest on Overpayment.
(a) General Rule. All overpayments of tax due the Township, including taxes on real property, shall bear simple interest from the date of overpayment until the date of resolution.
(b) Interest Rate. Interest on overpayments shall be allowed and paid at the same rate as the Commonwealth is required to pay pursuant to Section 806.1 of the Act of April 9, 1929 (PL 343, No. 176), known as The Fiscal Code.
(1) No interest shall be allowed if an overpayment is refunded or applied against any other tax, interest or penalty due the Township within 75 days after the last date prescribed for filing the report of the tax liability or within 75 days after the date the return or report of the liability due is filed, whichever is later.
(2) Overpayments of interest or penalty shall not bear any interest.
(d) Acceptance of Refund Check. The taxpayer's acceptance of the Township's check shall not prejudice any right of the taxpayer to claim any additional overpayment and interest thereon. Tender of a refund check by the Township shall be deemed to be acceptance of the check by the taxpayer.
(e) Definitions. As used in Section 3 above, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
"Date of Overpayment." The later of the date paid or the date tax is deemed to have been overpaid as follows:
(1) Any tax actually deducted and withheld at the source shall be deemed to have been overpaid on the last day for filing the report for the tax period, determined without regard to any extension of time for filing.
(2) Any amount overpaid as estimated tax for the tax period shall be deemed to have been overpaid on the last day for filing the final report for the tax period, determined without regard to any extension of time for filing.
(3) An overpayment made before the last day prescribed for payment shall be deemed to have been paid on the last day.
(4) Any amount claimed to be overpaid with respect to which a lawful administrative review or appellate procedure is initiated shall be deemed to have been overpaid 60 days following the date of initiation of the review or procedure.
(5) Any amount shown not to be due on an amended income or earned income and net profits tax return shall be deemed to have been overpaid 60 days following the date of filing of the amended income tax return.
"Date of Resolution." the date the overpayment is refunded or credited as follows:
(1) For a cash refund, a date preceding the date of the Township's refund check by not more than 30 days.
(2) For a credit for an overpayment:
(i) the date of the Township's notice to the taxpayer of the determination of the credit; or
(ii) the due date for payment of the tax against which the credit is applied, whichever first occurs. For a cash refund of a previously determined credit, interest shall be paid on the amount of the credit from a date 90 days after the filing of a request to convert the credit to a cash refund to a date preceding the date of the refund check by not more than 30 days whether or not the refund check is accepted by the taxpayer after tender.
4. Notice of Basis of Underpayment.
The Township shall notify the taxpayer in writing of the basis for any underpayment that the Township has determined to exist. The notification shall include:
(a) The tax period or periods for which the underpayment is asserted.
(b) The amount of the underpayment detailed by tax period.
(c) The legal basis upon which the Township has relied to determine that an underpayment exists.
(d) An itemization of the revisions made by the Township to a return or report filed by the taxpayer that results in the determination that an underpayment exists.
5. Abatement of Certain Interest and Penalty.
(a) Errors and Delays. In the case of any underpayment, the Township may abate all or any part of interest for any period for the following:
(1) Any underpayment or tax finally determined to be due attributable in whole or in part to any error or delay by the Township in the performance of a ministerial act. For purposes of this paragraph, an error or delay shall be taken into account only if no significant aspect of the error or delay can be attributed to the taxpayer and after the Township has contacted the taxpayer in writing with respect to the underpayment of tax finally determined to be due or payable.
(2) Any payment of a tax to the extent that any error or delay in the payment is attributable to an officer, employee or agent of the Township being erroneous or dilatory in performance of a ministerial act. The Township shall determine what constitutes timely performance of ministerial acts.
(b) Abatement Due to Erroneous Written Advice by the Township.
(1) The Township shall abate any portion of any penalty or excess interest attributable to erroneous advise furnished to the taxpayer in writing by an officer, employee or agent of the Township acting in the officer's, employee's or agent's official capacity if:
(i) the written advice was reasonably relied upon by the taxpayer and was in response to specific written request of the taxpayer; and
(ii) the portion of the penalty or addition to tax or excess interest did not result from failure by the taxpayer to provide adequate or accurate information.
(2) Section 5 above shall not be construed to require the Township to provide written advice to taxpayers.
6. Application of Payments.
Unless otherwise specified by the taxpayer, all voluntary payments of tax shall be prioritized by the Township as follows:
(4) Any other fee or charges.
7. Administrative Appeals.
A taxpayer has the right to petition the Township concerning assessment determination or refund of a tax. Upon receipt of such petition, the matter shall be referred to the Township Manager for review and possible adjustment. The Manager is directed to meet with the Petitioner and review any data or argument which may be supplied by Petitioner. The Manager may reach an adjustment, if warranted, subject to approval by the Board of Commissioners.
If the Manager does not or cannot reach a satisfactory adjustment with the Petitioner within twenty (20) days after receipt of the Petition, or if the Board of Commissioners rejects a proposed adjustment submitted by the Manager, the matter shall be referred for consideration de novo to the Board of Commissioners.
When the matter is before the Board of Commissioners, a hearing shall be held by the board or a committee thereof at which the Petitioner shall have the right to be represented by counsel and present evidence and argument. A decision shall be rendered by the Board of Commissioners within sixty (60) days from the date of filing of the Petition.
(a) Filing. A petition is timely filed if the letter transmitting the petition is postmarked by the United States Postal Service on or before the final day on which the petition is required to be filed. Deadlines for filing petitions are as follows:
(1) Refund petitions shall be filed within three years after the due date for filing the report as extended or one year after actual payment of the tax, whichever is later. If no report is required, the petition shall be filed within three years after the due date for payment of the tax or within one year after actual payment, whichever is later.
(2) Petitions for reassessment of tax shall be filed within 90 days of the date of the assessment notice.
(b) Contents. Petition shall be filed with the Township Manager in letter form in accordance with the deadlines set forth immediately above.
Decisions on petitions shall be issued within 60 days of the date a complete and accurate petition is received. Failure to act within 60 days shall result in the petition being deemed approved.
Any person aggrieved by a decision hereunder who has a direct interest in the decision shall have the right to appeal to the court vested with the jurisdiction of local tax appeals by or pursuant to 42 PA C.S. (relating to judiciary and judicial procedure).
11. Equitable and Legal Principles to Apply.
Decisions hereunder may be made according to principles of law and equity.
12. Installment Agreements.
(a) Authorization. The Township may enter into written agreements with any taxpayer under which the taxpayer is allowed to satisfy liability for any eligible tax in installment payments if the Township determines that the agreement will facilitate collection.
(b) Extent to Which Agreements Remain in Effect.
(1) Except as otherwise provided herein, any such agreement entered into by the Township shall remain in effect for the term of the agreement.
(2) The Township may terminate any such prior agreement if:
(i) information which the taxpayer provided to the Township to the date of the agreement was inaccurate or incomplete; or
(ii) the Township believes that collection of any eligible tax under the agreement is in jeopardy.
(3) If the Township finds that the financial condition of the taxpayer has significantly changed, the Township may alter, modify or terminate the agreement, but only if:
(i) notice of the Township's finding is provided to the taxpayer no later than 30 days prior to the date of such action; and
(ii) the notice contains the reasons why the Township believes a significant change has occurred.
(4) The Township may alter, modify or terminate such an agreement if the taxpayer fails to do any of the following:
(i) Pay any installment at the time the installment is due under such agreement.
(ii) Pay any other tax liability at the time the liability is due.
(iii) Provide a financial condition update as requested by the Township.
(c) Prepayment Permitted. Nothing herein shall prevent a taxpayer from prepaying in whole or in part any eligible tax under any agreement with the Township.
13. Confidentiality of Tax Information.
Any information gained by the Township as a result of any audit, return, report, investigation, hearing or verification shall be confidential tax information. It shall be unlawful, except for official purposes or as provided by law, for the Township to:
(a) Divulge or make known in any manner any confidential information gained in any return, investigation, hearing or verification to any person.
(b) Permit confidential tax information or any book containing any abstract or particulars thereof to be seen or examined by any person.
(c) Print, publish or make known in any manner any confidential tax information.
An offense under this section is a misdemeanor of the third degree and, upon conviction thereof, a fine of not more than $2,500 and costs, or a term of imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, may be imposed. If the offender is an officer or employee of the Township, the officer or employee shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment.
14. Taxes on Real Property.
Except as provided in Paragraph 3 (relating to interest on overpayment), this Bill of Rights shall not apply to any tax on real property.
If there are differences between this Bill of Rights and the rights and procedures outlined in Act 50, the Act takes precedence.