How to File a Protest
You must file a protest in writing within 60 days of the date on the Notice of Assessment (or refund denial letter). You must file this protest within the 60 days, even if you continue to communicate with the auditor or examiner. If you do not file the protest within the 60 days, you may pay the balance due, (if any) and file a timely refund claim. When a refund is denied, you must file a protest within 60 days to challenge the refund denial.
You must complete the protest according to Iowa Administrative Code rule 701—7.8. You may use the Protest - Appeal of Department Action, 76-500 form. For more information or questions about the protest process, contact the Hearings Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-242-5269.
If we dismiss your protest as untimely or for failure to respond to the Department’s motion to dismiss, you may apply for reinstatement. The Department makes the decision whether or not to reinstate an untimely or dismissed protest based on whether you provide evidence that you had good cause to miss the relevant deadline. You may use the Reinstatement of Dismissed Protest, 76-504 application. For more information, or questions about the reinstatement process, contact the Hearings Office at email@example.com or 515-242-5269.
You must submit your Application(s) for Reinstatement no later than 30 days from the date we dismissed the protest.
Protest Intake Process
Protests generally go through the following process. The Hearings Section reviews the documents you have submitted as part of the protest. If we find the documents to be complete and in proper format, the Hearings Section will docket them as a protest. If the documents provided are missing necessary information, you will be contacted by the Hearings Section and given 30 days to provide the missing information. If the missing information is provided, the protest will be reviewed according to the procedures described below. If the missing information is not provided, the protest will be dismissed. If the protest is dismissed, you may request reinstatement through the process described above.
Protest Review Process
The Department’s Appeals Section will review the matter to determine if a resolution can be reached without the need for a hearing. This is commonly referred to as “informal procedures.” Procedures at this stage include, but are not limited to, requests for additional information from the taxpayer, informal conferences to discuss the matter in person or over the phone, and settlements. If the matter is still not resolved, we will send you a Letter of Findings. You have 30 days to respond to the letter. If you disagree with the Letter of Findings, you may request a hearing. Failure to respond to the Letter of Findings or other requests in a timely manner may result in the dismissal of your protest.
Requests for Hearing
You do not have to go through the informal procedures described above or wait for a Letter of Findings to request a hearing. At any time after a proper protest is filed, you or the Department can waive informal proceedings and make a written request to begin a contested case hearing. If a proper protest has been pending before the Department for at least six months, you can make a written request to the Hearings Section to begin a contested case proceeding. If you do so, the Department must file an Answer within 30 days of receipt of your request. After the Department files its Answer to your protest, an Administrative Law Judge will issue a Notice of Hearing that sets the date, time, and location for the hearing.
If the Department fails to answer within the 30-day period, interest on an assessment is suspended from the time an Answer is required to be filed until the Department files an Answer If the protest involves a refund denial and the Department fails to answer within the 30-day period, interest on the refund accrues at twice the normal rate until the Answer is filed.
At the hearing, an Administrative Law Judge hears testimony and accepts exhibits from both you and the Department. This hearing is similar to a court of law but is more informal. It is important that all relevant information be presented because the record made at the hearing will be reviewed by the courts if your case is appealed to a higher level. You may represent yourself at the hearing or you may be represented by a person that meets the requirements of Iowa Administrative Code rule 701—7.6.
You and the Department may agree to have your protest set for expedited proceedings. This procedure is used in cases involving small dollar amounts that have no precedential value. Both you and the Department must agree not to conduct discovery. Both you and the Department must agree not to appeal the Administrative Law Judge’s decision under the expedited hearing format.
Both you and the Department may agree to present the contested case through a telephone hearing. The telephone hearing is usually not appropriate for complex cases or those involving numerous exhibits.
After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge issues a proposed order. If you and the Department agree with the order, the matter is considered resolved unless the Director reviews the proposed order on his or her own motion. If either party disagrees with the order, that party may appeal to the Director of the Department for a decision. The Director may hold a hearing and will issue a final decision. If you disagree with the Director’s decision, an Appeal may be made to the District Court. (Note: You also have the option to skip the appeal to the Director and appeal directly to the District Court.) District Court decisions may be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Recovering Litigation Expenses
You may be able to recover some of your administrative and litigation costs if an Order finds that the Department’s position was substantially unjustified on most issues. You must have given the Department all the information necessary to resolve your case and you must have requested recovery of those costs in your protest.