The Board of Finance and Revenue (BF&R) is a Pennsylvania tax appeal board that hears and decides appeals involving tax matters, including sales and use tax, corporate tax, personal income tax, and other miscellaneous taxes. BF&R, for which Treasury has administrative and budgetary responsibility, is generally the second level of appeal, reviewing decisions of the Department of Revenue's Board of Appeals. BF&R also selects depositories for Commonwealth funds and biannually determines the interest rate for Commonwealth deposits.
Changes to the Board of Finance and Revenue:
-1) New Three-member Independent Board.
The current six-member Board (the Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Attorney General and three agencies under the Governor's jurisdiction, including the Department of Revenue), will be replaced by a three-member independent Board. Two members will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate - one initially serving a four-year term and one serving a six-year term. All subsequent terms will be for six years. The State Treasurer or his designee will fill the third seat and remain as Chair. The new Board members must:
Be a United States citizen and a Pennsylvania resident
Be an attorney licensed in Pennsylvania or a certified public accountant
Possess at least ten years of experience in a position requiring substantial knowledge of Pennsylvania tax law
Devote full time to Board duties
Appointed members will serve until their successor is qualified and may be renominated.
-2) Ex Parte Communications Prohibited.
Effective April 1, 2014, the law prohibits Board members and Board staff from participating in any ex parte communications with a taxpayer or their representative or the Department of Revenue regarding the merits of any tax appeal pending before the Board.
The Board is currently drafting regulations pertaining to ex parte communications.
-3) New Compromise Authority.
It is the policy of the Board to encourage compromise settlements as a judicious means of resolving tax matters thereby reducing the costs associated with potential litigation. Section 9704(d.7) of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 directs the Board to establish procedures to facilitate the compromise settlement of issues on appeal. A compromise settlement shall be ordered by the Board only with the agreement of both the taxpayer and the Department of Revenue.
-4) Published Decisions in Searchable Database.
Decisions of the Board, including dissenting opinions, will be published (after deletion of certain confidential information) on a publicly accessible, searchable, internet website. Accordingly, the searchable database contains decisions rendered after April 1, 2014.
-5) Department of Revenue Now Party to Appeal.
The primary thrust of the recent Tax Reform Code Amendment was to create more independence for Board of Finance and Revenue decisions. Accordingly, the Department of Revenue no longer sits in judgment, but instead as an advocate, in state tax matters at the second level of appeal. As a consequence, Revenue now possesses the right to present evidence and argument before the Board as it has automatic statutory standing.
The following will remain the same:
-1) Public Hearings
BF&R hearings will remain open to the public.
-2) Representation Before the Board
Taxpayers may be represented before the Board by themselves, by an attorney, by an accountant, or by another representative so long as the representation does not constitute the unauthorized practice of law.
-3) Appeal to Court
Decisions from the Board of Finance and Revenue may be appealed to the Commonwealth Court and will be heard de novo (i.e., no formal record, such as a transcript, will be made before the Board and new evidence may be presented on appeal to court).
The Board of Finance and Revenue
Riverfront Office Center
1101 South Front Street, Suite 400
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2539