Tax Liability Appeals Process

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Overview

Employers who wish to dispute issues involving coverage, taxes or penalties can request a special hearing with TWC. The meeting, called a Rule 13 Hearing, allows employers a hearing in any case involving tax liability or any question relating to contributions or reimbursements. A TWC hearing officer will conduct a telephone hearing, which includes a Tax Department representative, then prepare a proposal for TWC Commissioners.  The Commission considers and decides Rule 13 tax cases at their regularly scheduled public meetings.

A request for a Commission Rule 13 tax hearing must be submitted in writing to the TWC Tax Department by mail or fax, as described on this page under Request for a Rule 13 Hearing.

The appeal process is structured so that you do not need an attorney. You may choose to have an attorney or other person represent you at your own expense.

There are two levels of appeal: 

  1. Request for TWC Rule 13 Hearing
  2. Motion for Reconsideration or Appeal to a Civil Court

You start with the first appeal level, and if you disagree with that decision, you may proceed to the other level.

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Request for a Rule 13 Tax Hearing

These instructions are for the first step in the employer’s appeal process, which is a Rule 13 hearing conducted by a TWC hearing officer from the Special Hearings Department.

The first step is to submit a written request to TWC for a hearing:

Mail:
Texas Workforce Commission
Attn: Tax Department/Status Section
101 E 15th St, Rm 514
Austin, TX 78778

Fax: 512-463-8185, Attention: Assistant Section Manager, Status Section

The Rule 13 hearing request must include the business name, address, tax account number, adverse tax determination and reason for the hearing request.

Keep a copy of your hearing request for your records.  You will receive a confirmation letter from the Special Hearings Department once the hearing request and tax file have been received in that department.

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About Rule 13 Tax Hearings

The Special Hearings Department has been designated by the Commission to hold Rule 13 Tax hearings.  Each case has a hearing officer designated to preside over the hearing.

The Rule 13 hearing is a telephone hearing, except that when a sign-language interpreter is required, the hearing may be in-person instead.

The employer may present testimony, witnesses and documents relevant to its case. A Tax Department representative will participate in the hearing.  During the Rule 13 hearing, the hearing officer will determine what is relevant and make sure that the record is complete. After the hearing, the hearing officer will prepare a proposal for the Commission to consider and decide at one of their public meetings.

Accommodations for Your Hearing

Inform the Special Hearings Department in writing as early as possible if you need accommodations for the hearing:

  • If you or your witnesses need interpreters – include needed languages
  • If you or your witnesses have a hearing impairment
  • If you need access to a telephone or fax machine

Hearing Notification Details

It may take six to eight weeks to receive a hearing information packet with information about your appeal. TWC will mail you the packet 10 to 20 days before your hearing.

The hearing information packet includes:

  • The Notice of Telephone Hearing, which includes the date and time of hearing, the telephone number to call for the hearing, and the name and contact information of the hearing officer assigned to the hearing
  • Instructions on how to participate in the hearing
  • Instructions on how to submit documents for the telephone hearing to the hearing officer and to the Tax Department representative
  • The case issues up for discussion

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Change Your Address

It is important that you keep your mailing address up to date because we will mail the hearing information packet and appeal decision to the address in our records. Change your address with us as needed in writing by mail or fax to the Special Hearings address or fax number listed under Contact Information.

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Preparing for Your Hearing

Allow enough time for your hearing. How long the hearing takes depends on many things, including the number of witnesses, documents, and issues in the case. Usually, hearings take from one to four hours to complete.

It is important to prepare all of the documentation, witnesses and evidence that you need to support your side of the issues. It is your responsibility to make sure that the hearing officer and the Tax Department receive copies of all the documents you wish to refer to before the hearing date. This will increase your credibility and allow the hearing officer to make a just determination of the facts.

Document Evidence You Want to Present at Your Hearing

Case documentation could include:

  • Letters and memos
  • Timecards
  • Handbooks or policies
  • Photos
  • Written agreements
  • Pay records

All documents must relate directly to the issues on the hearing notice. Be ready to tell who prepared the evidence and how it helps your case.

Any documents you want to present during the hearing must be provided to the hearing officer and to the Tax Department.

  • For a telephone hearing, mail or fax a copy of all of the documents you want to present to the hearing officer and to the Tax Department. Send them as far in advance as possible. Documents cannot be used if they are not provided in enough time before the hearing begins.
  • The hearing officer's address and fax number is on the first page of the hearing information packet, along with contact information for the Tax Department representative. If there is another party in your case, that person’s mailing address is also on the first page.
  • For an in-person hearing, you can bring the documents with you or send them in advance.

Calling Witnesses & Notifying the Hearing Officer

If you wish to call witnesses, they should have personal (first-hand) knowledge about the background, policies, incidents, or events regarding the issues on the hearing notice.

Contact your witnesses before the hearing and have them arrange their schedules so they can participate in the hearing.

During the hearing, you must give the hearing officer your list of witnesses and the contact phone numbers. Have your witnesses remain available for the call until the hearing officer or you release them from the hearing.

If your hearing is in person, have your witnesses appear at the hearing location at the time and date for the hearing, or they may participate by phone as stated above.

If You Need to Subpoena Witnesses

A subpoena is a written legal order that requires a person to appear at a hearing to testify or produce documents for a hearing.

Subpoenas may be issued at the discretion of the hearing officer. A request for a subpoena will be granted only after the hearing officer determines that the records or witnesses requested to be subpoenaed are relevant to the issues on appeal.

TWC pays the applicable fees for issuing a subpoena.

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Withdrawing Your Appeal

If you no longer want to proceed with the hearing, you have the option to withdraw your appeal.  Only the individual who filed the appeal can withdraw or cancel the appeal.

The withdrawal of your appeal must be done in writing or recorded by contacting the hearing officer and also must contain the specific words that you wish to "withdraw your appeal."

The appeal can be withdrawn either before or during the hearing.

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Participating in Your Rule 13 Hearing

Before the Hearing

For telephone hearings, you must provide a phone number where we can reach you for the hearing. Provide your contact information on the day of your hearing, at least 10 minutes before your hearing is scheduled to begin.  You can give us your phone number by calling the TWC Special Hearings Department at 800-687-4243 and speaking with the receptionist.  Please have your case number ready and tell the receptionist that it is for a tax hearing.

If you do not call in on time, you may not be allowed to participate in the hearing.

Beginning the Hearing

When it is time for the hearing, the hearing officer will call you and connect all witnesses to a conference call. The hearing will begin when everyone is connected.

All of the hearings are scheduled for the Central Time zone. If you have any questions about when you should call, please call the toll-free number listed on the Notice of Telephone Hearing.

Why You Should Participate

It is very important that you provide your phone number for your hearing before the scheduled hearing time and that you take part in your appeal hearing. The hearing officer makes their proposal to the Commission based entirely on the evidence given at the appeal hearing.

If you find you cannot participate in the hearing for any reason, mail or fax a written postponement request as soon as you can. TWC rules allow hearing officers to delay or reschedule hearings only in specific, limited cases.

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What Happens in the Rule 13 Hearing

All hearings are recorded. The law requires the hearing officer to give a very specific opening statement at the beginning of each hearing. This opening statement includes:

  • Information identifying the case for the record
  • What determination and issues are on appeal
  • Who is taking part in the hearing
  • Each party’s rights
  • The procedures used for the hearing

The hearing officer will put everyone who will speak under oath, and then answer questions about the opening statement before hearing any testimony.

If you have more than one person present, you must designate one primary representative, which may be you or your chosen representative. That primary representative will be able to:

  • Question the witnesses
  • Give their own testimony
  • Look at and object to documents

Order of Testimony in a Hearing

The hearing officer will hear statements from the employer and any witnesses, one at a time.  The hearing officer will question the witnesses, and then allow them to add relevant information.

The hearing officer will discuss any documents that were sent in or that are part of the case file.

The hearing officer will question the Tax Department representative, and allow them an opportunity to add any further relevant information.

The hearing officer will then let the employer add any new testimony before ending the hearing by allowing both sides to make a closing statement.

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What to Do If You Did Not Participate in the Hearing

If you did not participate in the Rule 13 hearing, please contact the hearing officer as soon as possible. It is possible that the hearing can simply be rescheduled if a written decision has not yet been issued by the Commission. If you did not participate, receive a written Commission decision, and disagree with the decision, you can submit a Motion for Reconsideration within 30 calendar days after the mailing date of the decision, as described below. However, you must show that you had a good reason for missing the prior hearing.

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After the Hearing

After the hearing is complete, the hearing officer will prepare a written proposal for the Commission to consider and decide upon in one of their regular public meetings.  It may take four to six weeks to receive the written decision of the Commission.

Request an Audio Recording of Your Hearing

You can request a CD copy of the recording of your hearing. Your written request must include identifying information:  your name, case number, TWC Tax ID number, telephone number and mailing address.

Mail or fax your request in writing to the TWC Special Hearings Department:

Special Hearings
Texas Workforce Commission
Attn: CD Duplication
101 E 15th St, Rm 406
Austin, TX, 78778

Fax: 512-463-9318, Attention: CD Duplication

It usually takes one to two weeks for you to receive your copy. The first copy is free; there is a small charge for any additional copies. Only the employer or designated representative can request a copy of the recording.

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Motion for Reconsideration

If you disagree with the Commission’s decision, you may request a Motion for Reconsideration within 30 calendar days after the date TWC mailed you the Commission decision. TWC will grant the Motion for Reconsideration only if you show these three things:

  • Important new information about your case
  • A compelling reason why you did not present the new information earlier
  • Why you think the new information could change the Commission decision

You can submit your written Motion for Reconsideration by mail or fax to the address or fax number in the instructions included with your Commission decision. You cannot file a Motion for Reconsideration by email or telephone. If you choose to fax the information, keep the paperwork that indicates successful transmission of your Motion for Reconsideration.

If you ask for reconsideration and the Commission denies it, you can still appeal that decision to a civil court.

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Appeal to a Civil Court

You may appeal to a civil court after the date TWC mailed you the Commission decision. You must have completed the appeal process available through TWC, except the optional Motion for Reconsideration, before appealing to a civil court. The instructions for submitting an appeal to a civil court are included with the Commission decision.

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Contact Information

Last Verified: July 30, 2014

Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
Deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired customers may contact Relay Texas: 800-735-2989 (TTY) and 711 (Voice). Equal opportunity is the law.

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