Navigating Pennsylvania’s Tax Appeals Process


Pennsylvania’s tax appeal system has long been criticized as very complicated, expensive and lacking impartiality. A few years ago, the PA Chamber and other interested groups were able to work with the General Assembly to eliminate some of the most antiquated procedures—some tracing their history to the early 1800s! The PA Chamber and others continue to work for further improvements. In the meantime, however, it is important for Pennsylvania businesses to understand how best to navigate through the existing process. This article focuses on understanding the current system and how to obtain results from the existing process in the most cost effective way.

Board of Appeals

The Department of Revenue’s Board of Appeals (BOA) provides the first level appeal from assessments of Sales & Use Tax, Personal Income Tax, Corporate Net Income Tax, Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, and other taxes administered by the department. BOA also handles petitions for refund of most taxes (excepting certain liquid fuels tax claims) and considers appeals from determinations made under Pennsylvania’s Property Tax and Rent Rebate program.

Cases are reviewed by BOA hearing officers, and their draft decisions are then subject to review and approval by one or more “board members.” The board members almost never hear cases directly. Effectively, one could view BOA as an “appeals office” rather than a “board” in the formal sense.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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