TEI Urges Washington Legislature to Enact Legislation Establishing an Independent Tax Court.

Position:Tax Executives Institute

On June 16, 2017, TEI submitted a letter to Senator John Braun and Representative Laurie Jinkins of the Washington State Legislature urging the legislature to enact Senate Bill 5866, 2nd Substitute, which would establish an independent tribunal to hear appeals of tax assessments and other matters administered by the Washington Department of Revenue. TEI's letter was prepared under the aegis of TEI's State and Local Tax Committee, whose chair is Jamie Fenwick. Pilar Mata, TEI Tax Counsel, coordinated the preparation of TEI's letter.

On behalf of Tax Executives Institute ("TEI"), we write to comment on Senate Bill 5866, 2nd Substitute ("SB 5866"), which would establish a tax court in the judicial branch of the State of Washington to hear appeals of excise taxes, property taxes, estate taxes, and adverse rulings from a tax authority or the superior court. Senate Bill 5866 contains many of the provisions that TEI deems essential to establish an independent, fair, and efficient forum for resolving state and local tax disputes and offers a significant improvement over the State's current Board of Tax Appeals. TEI thus urges the Legislature to pass the proposed legislation.

About Tax Executives Institute

TEI was founded in 1944 to serve the professional needs of in-house tax professionals. Today, the organization has 56 chapters in North and South America, Europe, and Asia, including Washington State. Our approximately 7,000 members represent 2,800 of the largest companies in the world, many of which either are resident or do business in Washington.

As the preeminent association of business tax professionals worldwide, TEI has a significant interest in encouraging the uniform and equitable enforcement of tax laws, and reducing the cost and burden of tax administration and compliance to the benefit of taxpayers and government. TEI is committed to maintaining a system that works--one that builds upon the principle of voluntary compliance, is consistent with sound tax policy, is easy to administer, and is efficient.

Comments on SB 5866 and Independent State Tax Tribunals

Allowing the same state authority that seeks to impose or collect a tax to also adjudicate a taxpayer's appeal of disputed tax assessments is inherently unfair and creates a conflict of interest that fosters the perception that the deck is stacked against taxpayers. That perception is exacerbated because departments of revenue are in the position of judging the regulations and rules...

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