Overview of Multistate Voluntary Disclosure Process
Please view the links below for more information regarding the Multistate Voluntary Disclosure Program:
- General Terms
- Lookback Period
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Minimum Tax Liability for Voluntary Disclosure
- Confidentiality Protection
- Participating States
- Contact Information
- Procedures of Multistate Voluntary Disclosure
The Multistate Voluntary Disclosure Program (“MVDP”) provides a way for a taxpayer with potential tax liability in multiple states (including the District of Columbia) to negotiate a settlement, using a uniform procedure coordinated through the National Nexus Program (“NNP”) staff of the Multistate Tax Commission (“Commission”).
The Commission offers this service to encourage taxpayers to commence filing and paying taxes in states in which they may have substantial nexus, which is the connection between the taxpayer and the state arising from the taxpayer’s activities in that state, making the taxpayer subject to the state’s taxing authority.
A taxpayer with potential tax exposure in more than one state will find this service to be faster, more efficient, and less costly than approaching each state separately. There is no charge to the taxpayer for participation in the MVDP.
A state’s sales/use tax and income/franchise tax (including the Hawaii GET and Washington B&O tax) are the tax types generally subject to a voluntary disclosure agreement (VDA). Prior contact between a state and the taxpayer concerning a tax type disqualifies the taxpayer from participation in voluntary disclosure for that tax type. “Contact” includes filing a tax return, paying tax, or receiving an inquiry from the state regarding the tax type. Procedures of Multistate Voluntary Disclosure , Subparagraph 5.2.
Upon entering into a VDA with the state, the taxpayer is required to file returns, pay the tax due under the returns, and register with the state (if required) in return for waiver of penalty for the duration of the look-back period, as provided in the VDA. Interest is due on unpaid tax obligations incurred during the look-back period unless expressly waived by the state.
The lookback period includes the prior complete tax filing periods for which a taxpayer applying for voluntary disclosure relief must generally file returns and pay the past-due tax liability plus interest in return for the state’s waiver of tax liability for periods prior to the lookback period and penalties. The lookback period also includes the current incomplete tax filing period, the return for which must be timely filed and tax paid when due. For more information on the lookback period, see “What is the lookback period, and how is it determined?” in “Frequently Asked Questions.” For a list of lookback periods for participating states, see “Lookback Periods for States Participating in National Nexus Program” and “Sales/Use Tax Lookback Periods for Taxpayers with Economic Nexus Only.”
Minimum Tax Liability for Voluntary Disclosure
NNP staff do not process voluntary disclosure applications when the good-faith estimate of tax due to a state for the lookback period is less than $500. Taxpayers with minimal tax liability should pay such liability upon filing an initial return directly with the state.
Confidentiality rules are addressed in Procedures of Multistate Voluntary Disclosure, Paragraphs 6 and 7. The Commission treats the applicant’s identity as confidential during the voluntary disclosure process. The Commission will disclose an applicant’s identity to a state only after the applicant has entered into a VDA with that state. Until such agreement is signed, an applicant is known to that state only by its voluntary disclosure Case Number assigned by NNP staff. The Commission does not disclose the VDA or any of its terms to any other state. An applicant need not disclose any information that would reveal its identity prior to execution of a VDA.
Secure e-mail is available to send confidential taxpayer information.
- The Application
- The taxpayer (or representative) prepares the Application for Multi-state Voluntary Disclosure (application) online and submits it to NNP staff via a secure internet connection on the Commission’s website.
- The application will be submitted to the state as Exhibit 2 of the VDA.
- The application should be complete, as incomplete applications will be returned or not processed.
- The person completing and submitting the application on behalf of the taxpayer must provide contact information, including the person’s name, telephone number, email address, and mailing address. If this person is a representative (not including an employee) of the taxpayer, NNP staff may disclose this information to the state at any time during the voluntary disclosure process unless instructed otherwise by the taxpayer. However, if disclosure of such person’s information would also disclose the identity of the taxpayer, NNP staff will not disclose such information to anyone except:
1) to the state after a VDA has been entered into;
2) with the taxpayer’s permission; or
3) pursuant to a proper court order.
- The application form also requires information that will be necessary for NNP staff to prepare a VDA, such as:
- the applicant’s tax year;
- states (including District of Columbia) to receive voluntary disclosure proposals;
- description of the applicant’s activities in the state; and
- best estimate of the amount of tax due per tax type and tax year for the lookback period.
- NNP staff receives the application and prepares a draft VDA for review by the taxpayer.
2. The VDA
- NNP staff sends to the taxpayer a draft VDA.
- If acceptable, the taxpayer provides the NNP staff with written approval of the draft VDA and permission to forward it to the state.
- NNP staff sends the draft VDA to the state as the taxpayer’s offer of voluntary disclosure, along with the application as an exhibit (redacted of taxpayer identifying information).
- The application and the draft VDA contain the taxpayer’s factual representations, which the state will rely on in determining eligibility for voluntary disclosure. The taxpayer may withdraw or supplement an application prior to execution of a VDA with the state.
- The state may respond by signing the draft VDA and returning it to NNP staff to forward to the taxpayer for signature. The state may also counter-offer by not signing the draft VDA and then sending a State Response Form to NNP staff stating terms required before it will accept the taxpayer’s proposal. NNP staff can arrange a teleconference to facilitate communications during this time, if requested by either party and the situation warrants it.
- NNP staff will forward the state-signed VDA to the taxpayer/taxpayer representative, along with instructions for sending the taxpayer-signed VDA to the state, registering with the state, and filing back tax returns and payments. The taxpayer signs the VDA already signed by the state and returns it to the state together with registration (if required), tax returns, tax payment, and any additional required information completing the voluntary disclosure package.
- The state may bill the taxpayer for additional interest, if applicable, after receipt of the complete voluntary disclosure package.
The National Nexus Program serves only states that are members of the program. Please click here for a list of National Nexus Program Members.
A few states in the NNP require additional procedures. NNP staff can explain those more fully, if applicable. The Procedures of Multistate Voluntary Disclosure , govern the NNP staff and member states during the process. For further information, please contact:
Director, National Nexus Program
Multistate Tax Commission
444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 425
Washington, DC 20001-1538