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1000 CONFIDENTIALITY AND SECURITY OF DATA

Purpose of Provisions Prohibiting the Disclosure of Confidential Information

The purpose of the provisions in the Revenue and Taxation Code prohibiting the disclosure of information is to aid the administration of the income tax laws, property tax assistance laws, and certain other programs under the department's jurisdiction, by encouraging taxpayers and assistance claimants to make full and truthful disclosures on their income tax returns and property tax and renter assistance claims without fear that the information will be revealed or used against them for some other purpose.

1100 Confidential Information Defined

General Statement

Confidential information is any item of information submitted to, or developed within the department to administer its program responsibilities and not specifically made public information by statute. Included are federal and state tax return information, property tax and renter assistance claim information, political reform audit information, personnel records, informant and investigative files, and proprietary information. Employees have no authority to use such records and information for any purpose not specified by law. While the primary mission of the department is administration of tax law, there are many other programs, such as renter assistance, collections for other government entities, and financial audits of lobbying and political campaigning activities for which the department has responsibility, including the required safeguard of information.

It is a misdemeanor for an employee of the Franchise Tax Board to make any willful unauthorized inspection or unwarranted disclosure or use of state information (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 19542, 19542.1, and 19552). It is a felony to make any unauthorized disclosure of federal information (I.R.C. § 7213(a)(2). Willful unauthorized inspection, also informally referred to as "browsing," is punishable as a misdemeanor (I.R.C. § 7213A(a)(2)).

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1110 Personal Income Tax Return Information

General Statement

Except as provided by law, it is a misdemeanor for an employee of the Franchise Tax Board to disclose any confidential information submitted pursuant to the Personal Income Tax Law (Rev. & Tax. Code §§ 19542, 19542.1, and 19552). The restrictions on disclosure apply to all confidential information, including computer-processed data.

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1120 Confidentiality Provisions

Personal income tax return information which is protected by the confidentiality provisions in the law includes:

  1. All information contained in a tax return.
  2. Information that is contained in any audit, collection or investigation report.
  3. Information submitted by the taxpayer in connection with the taxpayer's income or tax liability.
  4. Information submitted by a person other than the taxpayer concerning the taxpayer's income tax liability or financial affairs (e.g., W-2's, 599 information, etc.).
  5. Information contained in or extracted from a federal tax return, Revenue Agent's Report, federal audit or investigation report, or any other documents obtained from the Internal Revenue Service, including data received in tape form or translated from tape to various documents.
  6. Information whether a personal income tax return has been filed by an individual.
  7. Information processed electronically or maintained in an electronic format that contains tax return information.
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1130 Bank and Corporation Tax Return Information

General Statement

Revenue and Taxation Code section 19542 prohibits the disclosure of any information relating to the "business affairs" of the corporation. "Business affairs" includes the details relating to the business activities of the taxpayer disclosed in the return such as financial and subsidiary information, but excludes extraneous matters discussed below. (Rev. & Tax. Code, § 19543.)

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1131 Confidentiality Provisions

Bank and corporation tax return information which is protected by the confidentiality provisions in the law includes:

  1. Any information contained in a tax return, other than that excepted by Revenue and Taxation Code section 19543.
  2. Information contained in any audit or investigative report.
  3. Information submitted by the taxpayer in connection with its income or tax liability.
  4. Information with respect to a taxpayer's business affairs submitted by a person other than the taxpayer, if such information was furnished pursuant to the provisions of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
  5. Information contained in or extracted from a federal tax return, Revenue Agent's Report, federal audit or investigation report, or any other documents received from the Internal Revenue Service, including data received in tape or disk form or translated from tape to various documents.
  6. Information processed electronically or maintained in an electronic format that contains tax return information.
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1132 Bank and Corporation Tax Return

Information that may be disclosed under Revenue and Taxation Code section 19543 consists of information extraneous to the business affairs of the corporation. Such disclosures may be made only if the request for information states the name of the corporation/organization in question, and there is no reason to believe the information will be used for commercial list purposes.

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1133 Exempt Corporations

If an organization is granted exempt status for any taxable year under Revenue and Taxation Code section 23701, anyone may inspect the application for exemption and supporting documents that were used to make the determination that the organization qualified for exemption. See Revenue and Taxation Code section 19565.

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1140 Federal Tax Return Information

In addition to state statutory provisions, federal law (I.R.C. § 7213(a)(2)) makes it a felony to disclose federal information obtained under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code except as authorized by the Internal Revenue Code. In other words, the restrictions applying to state information apply to federal information with certain additional limitations.

Similarly, federal law (I.R.C. § 7213A(a)(2)) makes it a felony to inspect federal information obtained under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code except as authorized by the Internal Revenue Code.

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1150 Homeowner and Renter Assistance Claim Information

General Statement

Revenue and Taxation Code section 20645 provides that property tax claims shall be treated as tax returns for disclosure purposes. As such, they are subject to the same confidentiality provisions.

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1151 Definition of a Property Tax and Renter Assistance Claim

A property tax or renter assistance claim is defined as all income-reporting documents, including any and all schedules, information, correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous data related thereto, that are filed in support of an assistance claim.

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1160 Political Reform Audit Report Information

General Statement

A political reform document is any form, report, statement, notice, or other document prescribed by the Fair Political Practices Commission to effect compliance with the objectives of the Political Reform Act of 1974. Included are all forms, reports, statements, notices, schedules, records, and other items of information from any source, which pertain to a potential audit or investigation to be undertaken by the Political Reform Audit Program.

Lobbyist and campaign statements are public documents available for inspection at the Secretary of State's Office; however, Government Code section 90005 directs that particulars of any record or information received during an audit shall not be divulged. Therefore, no member, employee, or agent of the Franchise Tax Board may divulge or make known in any manner the particulars of any record, document, or other information received during an audit.

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1200 Personnel Records

General Statement

The confidentiality of personnel records is governed by statute, State Personnel Board rule, and prevailing departmental policy. Access to his or her own personnel records by an employee is authorized by the Information Practices Act, Government Code section 18573 and Labor Code section 1198.5.

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1210 Definition of a Personnel Record

Personnel records include information-gathering files that contain data that will be used for employee development, training, job performance evaluations, payroll, employee benefits, retirement, history of employment, and separation information.

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1220 Confidentiality Provisions

Personnel records that cannot be disclosed to the public include (but are not limited to):

  1. Official personnel file information.
  2. Roster information.
  3. Attendance reports and related documents.
  4. Legal investigation file information on pending or potential punitive actions.
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1230 Personnel Information that may be disclosed to the Public

(Except under special circumstances, e.g., threat of harm)

  1. Appointment date.
  2. Class title.
  3. Class salary range.
  4. Employee's salary rate.
  5. Work location and telephone number.
  6. Assignment.
  7. Rehire information to prospective employers, if authorized by the employee.
  8. Conflict of Interest statement.
  9. Termination date.
  10. Time base - full time, part time or intermittent.
  11. Tenure - permanent or probationary.
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