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Office of Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Provides Record Support to Pennsylvania Taxpayers


Harrisburg, PA — The Office of Taxpayers' Rights Advocate (OTRA) has provided assistance to more than 6,000 Pennsylvania taxpayers over the last three fiscal years, helping some of the Commonwealth's most vulnerable residents resolve their state tax issues. OTRA is a specialized office within the Department of Revenue that provides support in very specific situations, such as when a Pennsylvanian is facing significant hardship, has a PA tax issue related to a divorce, or has unwillingly completed a tax return due to domestic violence or spousal abuse. 

"We're incredibly proud that the assistance OTRA provided over this three-year period is a record in its nearly 30-year history. This office plays a vital role in terms of the type of customer-centric support that our agency offers to Pennsylvanians," said Secretary of Revenue Pat Browne. "We want people to know that OTRA is here for those who have exhausted all other resources and who need specific, individualized assistance to resolve their PA tax concerns."

What is OTRA?

Created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1996 as part of House Bill 200 which established the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, OTRA provides free and confidential assistance to taxpayers with Pennsylvania personal income tax and inheritance tax concerns that have not been resolved through normal, established Department procedures. The office ensures that the Department of Revenue applies Pennsylvania laws fairly and equitably and does not hurt individual taxpayer rights.

OTRA closed more than 2,000 cases in Fiscal Years 2021-2022 (2,059) and 2022-23 (2,212). It is on track to surpass that benchmark again in Fiscal Year 2023-2024, having closed 1,807 cases through the end of March. Three months — April, May, and June — remain in the current fiscal year.

OTRA is a three-person office led by Vincent Pease, who was named the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate in March 2019. He has more than 18 years of experience with the Department of Revenue, working in various roles prior to being appointed to his current position.
When to Turn to OTRA

OTRA should not be a first point of contact, but rather a final resource when all other options related to personal income tax and inheritance tax have been exhausted. Taxpayers should first try to resolve any issues with these taxes by working directly with the Department of Revenue.

OTRA can help in the following situations:

  • Normal Procedures Have Been Exhausted – An issue or action by the Department of Revenue that has not been resolved by normal, established procedures can be brought to the OTRA.
  • Delays – When more than 180 days have passed without a resolution to your tax issue, OTRA can intervene.
  • Unfulfilled Commitments – If you have not received a promised response or resolution by an agreed-upon date, OTRA can help ensure that your rights as a taxpayer are protected.
  • Significant Hardship – If you are suffering, or about to suffer, a substantial hardship due to your tax situation, OTRA can step in to advocate on your behalf.

OTRA specializes in other specific concerns, including:

  • Relief from Joint Liability – Married taxpayers who file joint Pennsylvania personal income tax returns are jointly and individually responsible for the taxes, interest, or penalties due on joint returns, even if they later divorce. In some cases, OTRA can help relieve a spouse, or former spouse, from tax obligations attributable to a joint return.
  • Injured or Innocent Spouse Relief – In cases where one spouse wants to protect their share of overpaid tax from being applied toward their spouse's past-due personal income tax liabilities, child/spousal support liabilities, court-ordered obligations, or federal income tax debt, OTRA provides guidance and support.
  • Duress – OTRA offers assistance to domestic violence victims who have involuntarily completed a tax return due to spousal abuse or duress.

Contacting OTRA
Taxpayers can reach OTRA through the online Taxpayer Request for Assistance Form or by email (, phone (717-772-9347), or fax (717-787-8264).
More information on OTRA can be found on the Taxpayers' Rights Advocate page on the Department of Revenue website.

Media Contact: Kendra Martin,


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