Treasurer McCord Outlines Latest Effort to Make Board of Finance and Revenue More Taxpayer-friendly with Online Access to Select Past Decisions
Harrisburg – For the first time, taxpayers and businesses have easy online access to certain past decisions of Pennsylvania’s Board of Finance and Revenue. State Treasurer Rob McCord today said this access is intended to make the board more business- and user-friendly in order to help taxpayers, financial professionals, and job-creators better understand precedents and state tax policy.
“The Board of Finance and Revenue has had the legal authority to make written decisions public since 1989, but has never done so,” said Treasurer McCord. “I believe we should use this authority to share information that can be useful in the hands of taxpayers, businesses, and tax practitioners. After all, understanding precedent and practices on certain tax issues can help these individuals and groups better understand the state tax code and – in the case of tax preparers – provide more effective tax guidance and advice.”
The Commonwealth amended its fiscal code in 1989 to allow the board to publish significant decisions. A decision could be deemed “significant” if it is the first-of-its-kind, is contrary to prior decisions, reverses Department of Revenue policy, or offers educational value on tax matters, among other reasons. The law requires a majority of board members to approve a decision’s publication.
The first three decisions posted to the board’s webpage relate to the Motor Carriers Road Tax and the International Fuel Tax Agreement. The Motor Carriers Road Tax Act imposes a levy on the fuel trucks, tractor trailers and other qualifying motor vehicles consume in Pennsylvania. Under federal law, any state that imposes such a tax is required to conform to the International Fuel Tax Agreement, which specifies where a motor carrier is to report and pay the tax. This “base jurisdiction” must then proportionally share the remitted fuel tax among the state where the commercial motor vehicle operated.
The initial three decisions can be found on the Board of Finance and Revenue’s website, www.patreasury.gov/bfr.html. Confidential taxpayer information has been redacted in accordance with the law.
“The access we provide to these three decisions can help truck drivers better understand rules and regulations in order to avoid duplicate taxation of fuel purchases,” said Treasurer McCord. “We hope to post additional decisions in the near future to provide the same kind of insight to other constituents and segments of our economy.”
The online decision postings coincide with the release of the latest edition of Matters of Appeal, a newsletter from the McCord Treasury to highlight the work of Pennsylvania's Board of Finance and Revenue, or BF&R.
The latest edition of Matters of Appeal also offers information on the following:
- An outline of tax appeal filing deadlines;
- A spotlight on the liquid fuels section of BF&R; and
- Statistics on liquid fuels refunds by years and the top recipients
BF&R is an administrative tax appeal board that hears and decides appeals involving matters of sales and use taxes, corporate taxes, personal income taxes, and other miscellaneous taxes. The Treasurer chairs BF&R by virtue of his elected office. The Auditor General, Attorney General, Governor's General Counsel, and the secretaries of Revenue and of the Commonwealth also are members.
BF&R is generally the second level of appeal for Pennsylvania tax decisions, reviewing decisions of the Department of Revenue's Board of Appeals. Additionally, BF&R selects financial institutions to hold Commonwealth money, and it sets the interest rate those institutions must pay for state deposits. BF&R also processes liquid fuel tax refunds for various entities permitted by law such as farmers, volunteer fire and ambulance service companies, municipalities, and schools.
To view the first issue of Matters of Appeal and to learn more about BF&R, visit www.patreasury.gov/bfr.html.
Media contact: Elizabeth Foose, 717-787-2991 or