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Tax Appeals

Frequently Asked Questions: Small Claims

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.

Who is eligible to proceed in small claims?

If the amount of tax in dispute exceeds a certain limit, the petition cannot be heard in small claims. For sales and use tax purposes, the amount of tax in dispute must be less than $40,000.00 per 12-month period to be eligible for small claims. For all other taxes, the amount in dispute must be less than $20,000.00 per 12-month period.

How do I select a small claims hearing?

The election to proceed in small claims is one which is controlled solely by the taxpayer. To elect small claims, simply check the "Small Claims Election" box on page 3, Section X of the petition (Form TA-100). If you have already filed a petition and now wish a small claims hearing, you need to send a letter to the Division of Tax Appeals stating that you elect to proceed in small claims. The taxpayer may, by written notice, revoke the election to proceed in small claims at any time before the conclusion of the small claims hearing. The petition would then be transferred for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

How long does a small claims hearing last?

Generally, a small claims hearing will take between one and two hours. Cases with complex issues or multiple issues can take more time.