§231-7.5  Expedited appeals and dispute resolution program.  (a)  The department shall be authorized to implement an administrative appeals and dispute resolution program that shall expeditiously resolve all tax, penalty, interest, fine, assessment, and other such disputes between the department and the taxpayer or return preparer.  The director or the director's designee, who shall report directly and be answerable solely to the director, shall serve as an independent appeals officer and shall be authorized to compromise, settle, or otherwise resolve any dispute on any basis, including hazards and costs of litigation, considering equally the position of the taxpayer and the department on an impartial basis.  The independent appeals officer shall not be influenced by any department tax compliance initiatives and policies, or loss of revenue to the State.  Decisions of the independent appeals officer shall be in writing stating the facts, analysis, and conclusions in support, which shall be provided to the taxpayer and return preparer.  Persons who currently serve or have served in the previous five years as an auditor, audit supervisor or manager, collector, collection supervisor or manager, district manager or supervisor, or tax compliance administrator, shall not be eligible to be the director's designee.

     (b)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, including tax appeal procedures set forth under chapter 232, a taxpayer shall be eligible to petition the department once for participation in the administrative appeals and dispute resolution program after issuance of a notice of proposed assessment; provided that if a taxpayer has filed a tax appeal with the tax appeal court or other court, the taxpayer shall first be required to obtain the approval of the director and permission from the respective court prior to petitioning the department for participation.  The director shall have the right to deny a petition for cause.

     (c)  The department shall adopt procedures to carry out the purposes of this section, including procedures relating to ex parte communications between the director or the director's designee and other department personnel to ensure that such communications do not compromise or appear to compromise the independence of the administrative appeals and dispute resolution program.

     (d)  The director of taxation may appoint an administrative appeals officer as necessary to administer this section, and perform other duties as directed by the director.  The administrative appeals officer shall be exempt from chapter 76 and may be a legal or accounting professional; provided that no individual appointed under this section shall render legal services reserved to the attorney general under chapter 28. [L 2009, c 166, §15; am L 2012, c 189, §4]