New Nevada Rule Adopted For Closing Tax Refund Hearings

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Nevada taxpayers who want their requests for tax refunds to be heard behind closed doors will have to make a case to the state to support shutting the public out of the process, under terms of a rule winning final approval Wednesday.

The state Tax Commission rule, approved by the Legislative Commission, reverses a former practice by the panel to move into closed sessions simply at the request of a taxpayer.

The regulation implements legislation approved in 2007 to clear up inconsistencies between the state's open meeting law, requiring proceedings to be held in public, and another law requiring proprietary taxpayer information to be kept confidential.

The regulation requires a taxpayer in most cases to request a closed hearing in writing at least two weeks before the matter is considered. The request must include a list or summary of the information the taxpayer believes to be proprietary or confidential.

The commission must then consider the information in a closed hearing to determine if it qualifies as confidential. If found to be confidential, the commission may discuss and consider the information in closed session, but any vote regarding a refund must take place in an open session.

A taxpayer who fails to request a closed hearing as specified in the regulation will be considered as having waived the right for such consideration.

The new rule was developed following a closed-door vote by the Tax Commission to give Southern California Edison a $40 million tax refund. The state law governing commission proceedings was changed by the 2007 Legislature as a result of controversy over the refund.