How is a small claims hearing before a presiding officer different from a hearing before an administrative law judge?
Although both hearings provide a forum for the taxpayer and Tax Department to present evidence and argument, there are significant differences between the two hearings. Small claims hearings are designed to be conducted as informally as possible consistent with orderly procedure. At small claims hearings there is essentially no motion practice; the Tax Department is usually represented by an auditor or technician instead of an attorney; the hearing is tape recorded instead of stenographically reported and the presiding officer's written determination must be issued within three months. The most significant difference is that in small claims proceedings the determination is final and binding upon both the taxpayer and Tax Department and is not subject to review or further appeal.