Taxpayer Advocate

The Taxpayer Advocate represents your voice at the Vermont Department of Taxes. As an independent entity within the Department, the Taxpayer Advocate is committed to helping Vermont taxpayers by balancing taxpayer assistance against enforcement efforts. The Taxpayer Advocate is here to listen to you, to understand your problems or concerns, and to work with you in an effort to resolve them. The advocate works to ensure that you are treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights.

Mission

The Vermont Taxpayer Advocate works to resolve taxpayers’ concerns with the Vermont Department of Taxes.

The Taxpayer Advocate:

  • Offers free guidance to help taxpayers with problems that they are unable to resolve on their own
  • Works for fair treatment of taxpayers
  • Provides education to taxpayers so they know and understand their rights

More information regarding the role and responsibilities of the Taxpayer Advocate can be found in the Annual Taxpayer Advocate Report.

Services Provided

Taxpayer Advocate services are available if a taxpayer has concerns with the following:

  • An issue with, or action by, the Vermont Department of Taxes not resolved by normal, established procedures within 180 days
  • A response or resolution not received by the date promised
  • An action by the Department that will cause a substantial hardship, irreparable injury, or long-term adverse impacts

The Taxpayer Advocate works with you to address your areas of concern and provides the following services:

  • Acknowledgement of your request for services
  • Independent review of your issue
  • Information on your rights
  • Guidance on how to address your issue
  • If needed, action by the Taxpayer Advocate on your behalf
  • Updates on progress pertaining to your issue
  • Explanation of the outcome regarding
  • Advice on how you can prevent future Vermont tax problems
  • Courteous and confidential service

What the Taxpayer Advocate Cannot Do

The scope of the Taxpayer Advocate’s services does not include the following:

  • Changing a legal or technical decision or a commissioner’s determination
  • Overriding the law
  • Representing the taxpayer at Department hearings
  • Becoming involved once the appeal process begins, unless there is undue delay in receiving a hearing

Taxpayer Advocate services are not a substitute for established Department procedures or the appeal process.

However, if those procedures are not working effectively, the Taxpayer Advocate will assist the taxpayer to facilitate the process and assure the taxpayer receives rights to which the taxpayer is entitled.

Systemic Issues

While reviewing individual taxpayer issues, the Taxpayer Advocate may detect systemic issues. Systemic issues are inherent in the overall system, rather than due to a specific, individual, isolated factor. The Taxpayer Advocate researches and analyzes the systemic issue and makes recommendations to the Vermont Department of Taxes directed toward addressing and preventing similar issues from happening again.

If there is a belief a systemic issue is the source of a problem, any individual, business, tax professional, or other interested party may request a review of Department policy or procedures.

Common factors of systemic issues:

  • Always affect multiple taxpayers
  • Involve Vermont Department of Taxes systems, policies, and procedures
  • Involve protection of taxpayers’ rights, receipt of fair treatment, and provision of essential taxpayer services

If you suspect there might be a systemic issue, please contact the Taxpayer Advocate and provide the following information:

  • Telephone number, mailing address, email address
  • Type of taxpayers affected and, if known, number of affected taxpayers
  • A detailed description of the issue
  • The system, policy, or procedure involved, if known

Extraordinary Relief for Property Tax Credit or Renter Rebate Claim

Extraordinary relief defines a remedy that compensates for the result of inaccurate classification of property as homestead or nonresidential through no fault of the taxpayer, or a remedy that makes changes to a taxpayer’s Property Tax Credit or Renter Rebate Claim. This remedy is within the power of the Commissioner to grant. This designation is determined in special proceeding and granted only where no other plain, speedy, or adequate remedy is available.

How Is the Taxpayer Advocate Involved in This Process?

The Taxpayer Advocate plays a role in formalizing requests for abatement of tax, interest, or penalty. Specifically, the Taxpayer Advocate may offer a written recommendation to the Commissioner for extraordinary relief.

The Advocate must make a written finding that:

  1. Vermont tax laws apply to the taxpayer’s circumstances in a way that is unfair and unforeseen or that results in significant hardship; and
  2.  The taxpayer has no available rights or administrative remedies to correct the issue that led to such unfair result or hardship.

Do you still have questions? You may find understanding the appeal process.

Request Assistance

Before contacting the taxpayer advocate, have you done the following:

You may contact the Taxpayer Advocate by telephone or by letter. We discourage using email as it is not secure. Please use email for general inquiries only.

Please provide the following information:

  • Name, address, Social Security Number, or Vermont business tax account number
  • Telephone number, mailing address, and email address
  • Type of tax(es) and reporting period(s)
  • Detailed description of the problem and efforts you have made to resolve it

Contact the Taxpayer Advocate

Hours: Monday through Friday
7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone: (802) 828-6848
Fax: (802) 828-5873
Email: tax.taxpayeradvocate@vermont.gov
Address: Vermont Department of Taxes
Taxpayer Advocate
PO Box 429
Montpelier, Vermont 05633-1401