House Bill 2087, introduced to the House Committee on Revenue in January, includes several important provisions that would give Oregon Taxpayers greater protections when dealing with the Department of Revenue’s collection unit. If passed, the bill would clarify and expand the existing Taxpayer Bill Of Rights by requiring the Department to provide taxpayers with a written and oral explanation of their rights and appeal procedures during the collection process. HB 2087 would also prohibit Department of Revenue collections personnel from contacting taxpayers who have a valid Power of Attorney for representation on file (except mailed notices).

Among the bill’s more transformative changes, the Department would be required to cancel any tax debt that has not been collected within 20 years of assessment. Although this is still double the IRS’s 10-year statute of limitations on collection, the new law would bring Oregon more in line with other states, such as California and Illinois, that have 20-year collection statutes. Another provision would obligate the Department to draft administrative rules setting forth the procedures used by the Department for reviewing and analyzing financial statements. Under the new standards, the Department would be required to consider the IRS collection financial standards when establishing payment agreements for past-due tax liabilities.

The first draft of HB 2087 includes some provisions that will likely be cut due to concerns about the state’s ongoing budget difficulties. For example, the bill calls for the creation of an administrative appeals office and a state taxpayer advocate, which would help prevent and resolve taxpayer hardships resulting from the Department’s collection activities, but with significant fiscal impact. Even without these provisions, the bill represents a huge step towards updating and improving the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The House Committee on Revenue held a hearing on the bill in early April, and a second version of the bill is expected soon. You can find the text of HB 2087 and track the bill’s progress on the legislature’s website’s HB 2087 page.