This informal mediation conference allows opposing parties the opportunity to discuss their concerns in a non-adversarial setting and to explore whether the dispute can be resolved without further hearings. It focuses on finding a workable solution that satisfies the law.
Mediation is Voluntary, Confidential and Cooperative
Your participation in a mediation conference is voluntary. If your appeal is scheduled for a mediation conference, you may waive the mediation conference and proceed directly to a hearing by signing and returning the TC 103 Hearing Request form fifteen (15) days prior to the scheduled mediation.
If your case is set for a hearing and you would like to try mediation, you may present that idea to the opposing party. If all parties agree to mediate the case, the Tax Commission will support that decision.
Mediation proceedings are intended to allow an open and confidential exchange of information among the parties and the mediator. Here is what you should know about confidentiality:
- Mediators are bound to confidentiality standards by the Code of Ethics for ADR Providers, as described in the Utah Rule of Court-Annexed Alternative Dispute Resolution, and by other Tax Commission policies and rules.
- The parties enter into a confidentiality agreement to guarantee that information disclosed in the mediation will remain confidential. The parties may use the Tax Commission's agreement form or any other form devised between them. Everyone who is present at the mediation should sign the agreement.
- Exhibits or any other written documentation submitted for discussion during the conference remain the property of the submitting party and do not become part of any Tax Commission record.
- If a party is going to appear at the mediation conference by telephone, that party should sign the Agreement to Mediate form and return it to the Tax Commission prior to mediation.
Mediation is not Litigation
The role of the mediator is to facilitate the discussion, not decide the outcome or impose a solution. The mediator will:
- Explain the process and enforce the rules.
- Encourage examination of the dispute from various perspectives.
- Help keep emotional or side issues in check.
- Answer procedural questions.
The mediator will NOT advocate for either party, choose sides or render a decision. The parties may ask the mediator for an opinion of probable outcome of the case should it go to hearing, but the mediator's opinion is only informal and nonbinding. It should not be considered a final decision.
Selecting a Mediator
You have two options:
- The Tax Commission will provide a mediator at no cost to you; or
- You and the opposing party may agree to use an independent mediator. If you use an independent mediator, you and the opposing party are responsible for the cost. You may split the cost between you according to your agreement.
Representative at the Mediation
The mediation process is informal. You may be represented by legal counsel or any other person of your choice, but it is not required. If you will be represented at the mediation conference by legal counsel or other representative, please provide written authorization to the Tax Commission and the opposing party of that fact at least 10 days before the date of the mediation conference.
If the mediation process resolves some or all of the issues under appeal, you will be asked to work with the other party to prepare and sign a settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement will stipulate what issues have been resolved. Settlement agreements or stipulations must be submitted to the Tax Commission for approval. If you use a mediator provided by the Tax Commission, the mediator will process the agreement document for you. If you use an independent mediator, you must submit the agreement in writing to the Tax Commission Appeals Unit for processing.
The Commission will issue you a final order that disposes of the issues settled through mediation. If any issues are reserved for hearing, or if the Commission finds that it cannot accept the agreement, your appeal will be set for a hearing.
What happens if the Dispute is not settled by Mediation?
If it appears that mediation cannot resolve the matter, the mediation conference can be terminated at any time. In that event, the matter will be scheduled for a formal hearing.
- Mediation Conference scheduled. Parties have opportunity to opt out.
- Parties meet with a mediator and work toward agreement.
- If parties agree, both parties sign a stipulation and the Commission issues an order approving their agreement.
- If the parties do not agree, the matter is scheduled for Formal Hearing.
- If the parties come to an agreement through the mediation process, their stipulated agreement is submitted to the Commission for approval.
- If the parties cannot reach agreement, the matter is scheduled for a Formal Hearing.
- The Commission issues its Decision and Order from the Formal hearing.
- Either party may seek judicial review within 30 days to District Court or the Utah Supreme Court