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A. 1. If a timely protest is filed with the department, the comptroller shall refer the protest to the department of administrative hearings upon the written request of the taxpayer or tax collector or at such earlier time as the comptroller deems appropriate. The department of administrative hearings thereupon shall fix the time and place for a hearing, give written notice thereof, and appoint an administrative law officer who shall conduct the hearing. The director of the department of administrative hearings may also promulgate additional governing procedures for the conduct of hearings held under this section.
2. The administrative law officer is authorized to conduct hearings concerning any matter covered by this chapter or any ordinance and may determine the factual and legal matters raised by the parties to the hearing; provided, however, that the administrative law officer shall not hear or decide any claim that any ordinance is unconstitutional on its face or that the city council did not have authority to enact the ordinance. The administrative law officer also shall not hear or decide any claim not stated on the written protest, either as initially filed with the department or as subsequently amended prior to the hearing.
B. The administrative law officer may:
1. Examine any books, papers, records or memoranda bearing upon the business or activities of the taxpayer or tax collector;
2. Issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of any person having personal knowledge of any contested issue;
3. Issue subpoenas duces tecum for the production of books, records, papers, or memoranda;
4. Administer oaths;
5. Take testimony;
6. Make rulings as to the admissibility of evidence; and
7. Take any other action as may be required for the expeditious conduct of the hearing.
C. The administrative law officer is not bound by the technical rules of evidence. No informality in any proceeding or in the manner of taking testimony or receiving evidence shall invalidate any order, decision, or ruling of the administrative law officer.
D. The department's books, papers, records and memoranda or parts thereof may be proved in any hearing or legal proceeding by the original documents or by reproduced copy under the certificate of the comptroller. Without further proof, such original documents or reproduced copy shall be admissible into evidence before the department.
E. If the administrative law officer issues a subpoena or a subpoena duces tecum, the following rules shall apply:
1. Service shall be made as provided by the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, as amended;
2. Fees of witnesses for attendance and travel shall be the same as the fees of witnesses before the circuit court of Cook County and shall be paid after the witness is excused from further attendance;
3. When a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum is issued at the instance of either party, the administrative law officer may require that party to bear the cost of service and any witness fee. The administrative law officer may require a deposit to cover the cost of service and witness fees.
F. Any party to a hearing may apply to any judge of the circuit court of this state for enforcement of any subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued by a hearing officer holding a hearing authorized by this chapter.
G. The administrative law officer, or either party to a hearing, may cause witnesses to be deposed as provided by the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, as amended, and the rules of the Supreme Court of Illinois, as amended. At the option of the party to be deposed, any officer or employee of that party shall be deposed through written questions alone.
H. 1. At any hearing held under this chapter, the tax determination and assessment and the assessment of any nontax debt shall be prima facie correct and the protesting party shall have the burden of proving with books, records and other documentary evidence that it is incorrect. When interpreting any issue of law pertaining to a tax ordinance, the administrative law officer shall apply any applicable rules and regulations issued by the comptroller pursuant to chapter 2-32 or any tax ordinance.
2. At the conclusion of a hearing, the administrative law officer shall prepare a final decision containing findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall issue the final assessment.
3. The protesting party shall be given written notice of the decision and final assessment, this notice shall contain a statement of the cost of certifying the record to the circuit court of Cook County, computed at the rate of $0.20 per page. The party seeking judicial review of the decision and final assessment shall bear the cost of certification. If the protesting party prevails on appeal, then the city shall reimburse that party for cost of certification.
4. Items constituting the record may include notices and demands; the initial and any amended tax determinations and assessments; the initial and any amended assessments of nontax debts; the written protest and petition for hearing; all relevant pleadings, briefs and memoranda of law; evidence admitted at the hearing; the transcribed testimony given at the hearing; and the decision and final assessment of the administrative law officer.
5. Within ten business days of receiving an administrative law officer's final decision, either party to the proceeding may petition the director of the department of administrative hearings or his or her designee to review the final decision. A final ruling by the director of the department of administrative hearings or his or her designee to reverse or modify any decision shall be based on the record created by the administrative law officer, and the director shall not make any determination of credibility without consulting the administrative law officer. If the director of the department of administrative hearings or his or her designee does not act on a petition within ten business days after receiving the petition, the petition shall be deemed denied on that date and the determination of the administrative law officer shall be final. The failure to submit a petition for review shall not waive or affect a party's right to judicial review.
(Added Coun. J. 11-14-91, p. 7458; Amend Coun. J. 7-10-96, p. 24982; Amend Coun. J. 11-12-97, p. 56813; Amend Coun. J. 4-29-98, p. 66564, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 3-31-04, p. 20916, § 4.13; Amend Coun. J. 11-16-11, p. 13798, Art. I, § 3)