(1) Various state and federal laws that govern the
comptroller's and taxpayers' responsibilities concerning the collection
and payment of taxes and fees are addressed in other sections of this
title. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights seeks to strike a balance and find
ways to protect taxpayers' rights without interfering with the comptroller's
responsibility to collect taxes and assess the accuracy of returns.
(2) The comptroller is legally required to establish
a "Compact with Texans," which provides taxpayers with information
about how customer service will be performed and monitored. This section
explains the comptroller's customer service responsibilities and commitments
to ensure that taxpayers receive the treatment and service to which
they are entitled.
(b) Taxpayers are entitled to useful resources and
prompt and accurate information that is provided in a professional
(1) The comptroller's website, Window on State Government,
will contain information that is well-organized and useful to help
taxpayers locate answers to their questions. Taxpayers can also elect
to receive email updates relating to agency policies and practices
through Window on State Government.
(2) Comptroller staff will respond promptly to requests
for information whether in person, by phone, or in writing.
(3) The comptroller will seek feedback from taxpayers
to ensure that they are receiving prompt and accurate responses to
requests for information and that agency staff performs in a courteous
and professional manner.
(4) The comptroller will write rules, publications,
forms, and information on the agency's website in plain English and
will promptly update information to reflect changes in laws and agency
policy. Upon request, the comptroller will make agency publications
available in different formats to meet taxpayers' needs.
(5) The comptroller will maintain the State Tax Automated
Research (STAR) system on the comptroller's website to provide taxpayers
with an additional source of information. All private letter rulings,
including information about rulings that have been revoked or modified,
issued in accordance with §3.1 of this title (relating to Private
Letter Rulings and General Information Letters) will be maintained
(c) Detrimental reliance policy. The comptroller will
give relief to a taxpayer who follows erroneous advice given to the
taxpayer by an agency employee. The taxpayer, however, must have provided
complete and accurate information to the agency employee. The comptroller
will give relief only if that taxpayer, and not a third party, was
harmed by following the erroneous advice. See also §3.1 of this
(1) Unless otherwise provided by this section, a taxpayer
must affirmatively prove and provide records as requested by the comptroller
to show that it meets all four parts of the following test:
(A) the substance of the information or advice and
its direct communication to the taxpayer must be in writing in accordance
with §3.1 of this title;
(B) the taxpayer followed the information or advice;
(C) the taxpayer gave sufficient information to have
resulted in correct advice and did not misrepresent information or
withhold or conceal information that would affect the advice; and
(D) the taxpayer has suffered, or will suffer, harm
based on the erroneous advice unless the comptroller provides relief
to the taxpayer.
(2) Sales and use taxes under Tax Code, Chapter 151.
Both sellers and purchasers of taxable items can receive relief based
on detrimental reliance. Sellers of taxable items may receive waivers
of tax, penalty, and/or interest. The following additional guidelines
will be used when a taxpayer has proven detrimental reliance related
to the purchase of taxable items, provided the taxpayer meets the
first three parts of the test stated in paragraph (1)(A) - (C) of
this subsection and provided records as requested by the comptroller:
(A) all penalties and interest will be waived;
(B) tax will be waived on materials directly utilized
and consumed in the performance of a service for, or sale of a product
to, an unrelated third party;
(C) tax can only be waived for indirect materials or
services when the taxpayer can prove that these items were used in
computing prices or bids;
(D) tax on assets or tools directly used in the performance
of services or sales may be partially exempted based upon their purchase
dates and remaining life of the assets. This presumes that prices
can be increased on future sales. A taxpayer with a long term contract
or fixed bid can substantiate a larger waiver. For the purposes of
computing the remaining life and value of an asset, the comptroller
will use a 48 month useful life and straight line depreciation. The
taxpayer cannot use other methods of valuation; and
(E) special consideration for waiver will be made if
a taxpayer can prove that the advice was used in a decision to locate
facilities in Texas.
(3) The following persons shall receive waivers of
a tax, charge or fee that was not collected, plus penalty, and/or
interest, if all elements of detrimental reliance are proven as indicated
by paragraph (1) of this subsection and documents are made available
to the comptroller to verify such a claim:
(A) persons who must collect and remit the fee on the
sale of batteries under Health and Safety Code,§361.138;
(B) persons who must collect and remit the emergency
service fee under Health and Safety Code, §771.071;
(C) persons who must collect and remit the emergency
service fee for wireless telecommunications under Health and Safety
(D) retail sellers of prepaid 9-1-1 emergency service
fee under Health and Safety Code, §771.0712;
(E) persons who must collect and remit the equalization
surcharge under Health and Safety Code, §771.072;
(F) surplus lines licensees who must collect premium
taxes from policyholders to remit to the state under Insurance Code,
(G) persons who must collect and remit the Texas emissions
reduction plan surcharge under Tax Code, §151.0515 or §152.0215;
(H) persons who sell or rent motor vehicles and who
must collect and remit taxes under Tax Code, Chapter 152;
(I) persons who must collect and remit hotel occupancy
taxes under Tax Code, Chapter 156;
(J) persons who sell boats and boat motors who must
collect and remit taxes under Tax Code, Chapter 160;
(K) persons who must collect and remit the fireworks
tax under Tax Code, Chapter 161; and
(L) persons who must collect and remit the fee on delivery
of certain petroleum products under Water Code, §26.3574.
(4) Taxes, fees, and charges other than those identified
in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection. If a taxpayer proves
detrimental reliance in relation to the taxes, fees, and charges administered
by the comptroller other than those identified in paragraphs (2) and
(3) of this subsection, the comptroller will only consider granting
a waiver of penalty and/or interest for the period(s) covered by the
report, audit, or assessment.
(d) The customer service liaison.
(1) The comptroller employs a customer service liaison
to handle taxpayer complaints. The customer service liaison has the
authority to determine if the complaint is valid and to work with
staff to reach a resolution that is satisfactory to both the taxpayer
and the agency. Certain matters are not within the authority of the
customer service liaison to address, including disputes about the
meaning of agency rules, disputes about taxability issues that are
pending in the administrative hearings process or complaints about
the law itself.
(2) Contact information for the customer service liaison
will be prominently displayed on comptroller materials, including
on the agency's website and webpage devoted to the Compact with Texans,
and in telephone directories statewide.
(3) If taxpayers approach the Governor's Citizens Assistance
Office with disagreements with or about employees, operations, or
services at the comptroller's office, the customer service liaison
will be notified and will take appropriate action.
(4) The customer service liaison is required by law
to submit a biennial report to the legislature to track systemic problems
and identify areas that can be improved.
(5) Complaints and concerns submitted to the customer
service liaison will receive a response within 10 working days.
(e) The comptroller helps taxpayers comply with the
law and protect their rights.
(1) Taxpayers who are not currently under audit or
investigation and who come forward voluntarily to disclose their liability
and pay taxes due may be eligible to have penalties and interest waived
by entering into a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement. General information
about these agreements is available on the comptroller's website.
(2) Information provided by taxpayers will be kept
confidential to the extent allowed by law.
(3) Taxpayers may bring an attorney, accountant, or
other representative to an audit conference and may also record the
(4) Taxpayers may request a review of audit results
by an independent audit reviewer and proceedings related to the review
may occur at locations in Texas close to a taxpayer's primary place
(5) Taxpayers have the right to request that staff
from the Tax Policy Division be included in disputes and discussions
about taxability issues when taxpayers are involved in an audit examination
of any kind, or negotiating a voluntary disclosure agreement.
(6) The comptroller will not audit a person based on
information provided in a request for a private letter ruling or general
information letter under §3.1 of this title. However, if a person
is otherwise selected for audit, the comptroller may review any letter
or ruling received by that person to ensure compliance. Also, issuance
of a letter or ruling does not prohibit the comptroller from auditing
(f) The comptroller welcomes input from taxpayers and
the business community in order to promote voluntary compliance.
(1) The comptroller welcomes suggestions from taxpayers
on ways to improve the information and customer service the agency
provides. Such suggestions can be submitted to the customer service
liaison. See subsection (d) of this section.
(2) The comptroller will invite representatives and
interested parties to participate in roundtable discussions on specific
issues, or to learn about the needs and problems of a particular industry.
The comptroller will review recommendations from these meetings internally,
and will incorporate them into rules and procedures as appropriate.
The comptroller will also consider comments and questions received
from businesses, industry representatives, and others when developing
rules and procedures. The comptroller circulates proposed amendments
to existing rules and proposed new rules to a comptroller-appointed
taxpayer advisory group to obtain their comments prior to filing with
the Texas Register.