An ex parte communication is a communication made by one party to someone else while excluding the other party involved in the issue.
A hearing officer cannot communicate with audit personnel about the issues under review in the informal conference, without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to participate. This includes in person discussions, phone calls, and emails.
A hearing officer can have ex parte communications with audit personnel about ministerial, administrative, or procedural matters that do not address the substance of the issues or the positions taken in the audit.
If the taxpayer gives the hearing officer new evidence that should have been provided during the audit, the hearing officer can ask the auditor to review the new evidence and make a recommendation about how the evidence affects the issues. The hearing officer and the auditor can discuss this recommendation privately.