A recent audit of the Illinois Independent Tax Tribunal highlighted a few things it isn't getting right when hearing taxpayers’ appeals.
The Illinois Independent Tax Tribunal began accepting taxpayer petitions in January 2014. Before the tribunal, Taxpayers Federation of Illinois President Carol Portman said people had to pay the Department of Revenue the taxes before they could appeal.
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“That doesn’t give people a lot of confidence that they’re going to get an independent review of their dispute,” Portman said. Portman added the tribunal provides confidence the appeal can be independent.
The state’s Auditor General found several issues Portman described as the tribunal “stubbing its toe.” But she said that it’s a complicated situation. “Getting an agency up and running and starting from scratch is not an easy task,” she said.
The Auditor General found the tribunal had inadequate business rules and policies, inaccurate internal accounting records and lacked an office in Sangamon County.
One finding from the Auditor General said the tribunal wasn’t properly handling the $500 fee taxpayers pay for a case to be heard. If the case isn’t heard, the tribunal has been giving back the original check. The audit says the tribunal should cash the check and cut another check for therefund. That could mean the refund would be lumped in with other backlogged bills.
Another audit finding was the tribunal doesn’t have an office in Sangamon County as required.
Portman said the thinking could be that would cost taxpayers when the little-known body doesn’t have that great of a workload. “This doesn’t alarm me or cause me to be worried that something bad is going on there at all,” Portman said.
The tribunal said it has the ability to get office space in Springfield if the need arises but most of its 600 cases have been heard via phone.