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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

Contact: Allen Spelce or R.J. DeSilva
512-463-4070

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2007

Comptroller Susan Combs Unveils Improvements in Tax Process


AUSTIN — Comptroller Susan Combs today announced changes in all phases of the tax dispute resolution process, from audits to appeals, hearings and rulings.

"These improvements will make the process better, faster and fairer for taxpayers," Combs said.

"We will tighten timelines and adhere to deadlines, not only for taxpayers, but for the agency as well," Combs said. "In the past, tax disputes have dragged on for years in some cases."

Under the revamped process, taxpayers will have three opportunities to resolve tax disputes and avoid costly and time consuming hearings before administrative law judges: (1) Audit results will be subject to an independent review outside the Comptroller's Audit Division; (2) If an issue is not resolved during the independent audit review, a hearings attorney will seek an informal resolution with the taxpayer; and (3) For the first time, an optional mediation will be available for taxpayers in a final effort to reach a settlement before a hearing is scheduled.

"This gives Texas taxpayers a better chance to make their case," Combs said. "They will have a bigger voice in the process than ever before."

Cities, counties and other local taxing entities will also benefit from a more timely resolution of tax disputes.

"Local governments depend on a certain stream of revenue from the sales tax and other local taxes the state collects on their behalf," Combs said. "It can be a financial hardship for a city or county when their revenue is tied up in the tax process."

The improvements announced today are part of Combs' ongoing efforts to make the tax process fairer and more transparent to taxpayers. On her second day on the job, the Comptroller moved the administrative law judges, who render proposed decisions on tax cases, from her office to the independent State Office of Administrative Hearings, removing any appearance of bias or undue influence in tax hearings.

Details of the changes in the tax process can be found on the Comptroller's Web site, www.window.state.tx.us.

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