THE CONCILIATION CONFERENCE
A taxpayer who disagrees with audit finding will be given the opportunity to participate in a mediation conference with the auditor. This conference is held under the under the auspices of the Bureau of Mediation and Conciliation Services (BCMS), which is a separate operating bureau within the Department of Taxation reporting directly to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance. The goal of the Conciliation Conferee is to resolve tax disputes without the necessity of a formal hearing before the Division of Tax Appeals. A request for a Conciliation Conference must generally be made within 90 days after the issuance of a Notice of Determination. The taxpayer who deems the Conciliation Order issued by the Conferee following the Conference unacceptable, may request a formal hearing before the Division of Tax Appeals within 90 days after the Conciliation Order is issued.
A taxpayer who wishes to bypass the Conciliation Conference may do so by filing a request for a formal hearing before the Division of Tax Appeals within 90 days after the issuance of a Notice of Determination. These time periods are jurisdictional; a taxpayer who fails to timely file a request for a hearing before the Division of Tax Appeals will lose all appeal rights in the administrative tax tribunals. (Relief may still be sought in some cases by bring a declaratory judgment action in state supreme court challenging the constitutionality or the applicability of the statute or assessment. However, this path is perilous at best.)