52nd Legislature

                      1991 Regular Session



Passed by the House March 19, 1991

  Yeas 98   Nays 0




Speaker of the

       House of Representatives


Passed by the Senate April 18, 1991

  Yeas 39   Nays 1




President of the Senate












Governor of the State of Washington



I, Alan Thompson, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1357 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.




                                      Chief Clerk











                        Secretary of State   

                       State of Washington  




                       ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1357



                             AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE


                     Passed Legislature - 1991 Regular Session



State of Washington              52nd Legislature             1991 Regular Session


By House Committee on Revenue (originally sponsored by Representatives Fraser, Holland, Wang, Wynne, Winsley, Moyer, Paris and May; by request of Department of Revenue).


Read first time February 28, 1991.  Relating to the public disclosure of tax information.

     AN ACT Relating to the public disclosure of tax information; amending RCW 82.32.330; adding a new section to chapter 82.32 RCW; and prescribing penalties.




     Sec. 1.  RCW 82.32.330 and 1990 c 67 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:

     (1) For purposes of this section:

     (a) "Disclose" means to make known to any person in any manner whatever a return or tax information;

     (b) "Return" means a tax or information return or claim for refund required by, or provided for or permitted under, the laws of this state which is filed with the department of revenue by, on behalf of, or with respect to a person, and any amendment or supplement thereto, including supporting schedules, attachments, or lists that are supplemental to, or part of, the return so filed;

     (c) "Tax information" means (i) a taxpayer's identity, (ii) the nature, source, or amount of the taxpayer's income, payments, receipts, deductions, exemptions, credits, assets, liabilities, net worth, tax liability deficiencies, overassessments, or tax payments, whether taken from the taxpayer's books and records or any other source, (iii) whether the taxpayer's return was, is being, or will be examined or subject to other investigation or processing, (iv) a part of a written determination that is not designated as a precedent and disclosed pursuant to section 2 of this act, or a background file document relating to a written determination, and (v) other data received by, recorded by, prepared by, furnished to, or collected by the department of revenue with respect to the determination of the existence, or possible existence, of liability, or the amount thereof, of a person under the laws of this state for a tax, penalty, interest, fine, forfeiture, or other imposition, or offense:  PROVIDED, That data, material, or documents that do not disclose information related to a specific or identifiable taxpayer do not constitute tax information under this section.  Except as provided by section 2(1) of this act, nothing in this chapter shall require any person possessing data, material, or documents made confidential and privileged by this section to delete information from such data, material, or documents so as to permit its disclosure;

     (d) "State agency" means every Washington state office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or other state agency; and

     (e) "Taxpayer identity" means the taxpayer's name, address, telephone number, registration number, or any combination thereof, or any other information disclosing the identity of the taxpayer.

     (2) Returns and tax information shall be confidential and privileged, and except as ((hereinafter provided it shall be unlawful for)) authorized by this section, neither the department of revenue ((or)) nor any ((member, deputy, clerk)) officer, employee, agent, ((employee,)) or representative thereof ((or)) nor any other person ((to make known or reveal)) may disclose any ((facts or information contained in any return filed by any taxpayer or disclosed in any investigation or examination of the taxpayer's books and records made in connection with the administration hereof)) return or tax information.

     (3)  The foregoing, however, shall not ((be construed to)) prohibit the department of revenue or ((a member or)) an officer, employee, agent, or representative thereof from:

     (((1) Giving)) (a) Disclosing such ((facts)) return or tax information ((in evidence in any court action involving)) in a civil or criminal judicial proceeding or an administrative proceeding:

     (i) In respect of any tax imposed ((hereunder or involving a violation of the provisions hereof or involving)) under the laws of this state if the taxpayer or its officer or other person liable under Title 82 RCW is a party in the proceeding; or

     (ii) In which the taxpayer about whom such return or tax information is sought and another state ((department and the taxpayer; (2) giving such facts and information to the taxpayer or his duly authorized agent; (3))) agency are adverse parties in the proceeding;

     (b) Disclosing, subject to such requirements and conditions as the director shall prescribe by rules adopted pursuant to chapter 34.05 RCW, such return or tax information regarding a taxpayer to such taxpayer or to such person or persons as that taxpayer may designate in a request for, or consent to, such disclosure, or to any other person, at the taxpayer's request, to the extent necessary to comply with a request for information or assistance made by the taxpayer to such other person:  PROVIDED, That tax information not received from the taxpayer shall not be so disclosed if the director determines that such disclosure would compromise any investigation or litigation by any federal, state, or local government agency in connection with the civil or criminal liability of the taxpayer or another person, or that such disclosure is contrary to any agreement entered into by the department that provides for the reciprocal exchange of information with other government agencies which agreement requires confidentiality with respect to such information unless such information is required to be disclosed to the taxpayer by the order of any court;

     (c) Disclosing the name of a taxpayer with a deficiency greater than five thousand dollars and against whom a warrant under RCW 82.32.210 has been either issued or failed and remains outstanding for a period of at least ten working days.  The department shall not be required to disclose any information under this subsection if a taxpayer:  (i) Has been issued a tax assessment; (ii) has been issued a warrant that has not been filed; and (iii) has entered a deferred payment arrangement with the department of revenue and is making payments upon such deficiency that will fully satisfy the indebtedness within twelve months;

     (d) Disclosing the name of a taxpayer with a deficiency greater than five thousand dollars and against whom a warrant under RCW 82.32.210 has been filed with a court of record and remains outstanding;

     (e) Publishing statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular returns or reports or items thereof;

     (((4) giving)) (f) Disclosing such ((facts)) return or tax information, for official purposes only, to the governor or attorney general, or to any state ((department,)) agency, ((board, commission, council,)) or to any committee or subcommittee of the legislature dealing with matters of taxation, revenue, trade, commerce, the control of industry or the professions;

     (((5))) (g) Permitting ((its)) the department of revenue's records to be audited and examined by the proper state officer, his or her agents and employees;

     (((6) giving)) (h) Disclosing any such ((facts)) return or tax information to the proper officer of the internal revenue service of the United States, the Canadian government or provincial governments of Canada, or to the proper officer of the tax department of any state or city or town or county, for official purposes, but only if the statutes of the United States, Canada or its provincial governments, or of such other state or city or town or county, as the case may be, grants substantially similar privileges to the proper officers of this state; or

     (((7) giving)) (i) Disclosing any such ((facts)) return or tax information to the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of the Department of the Treasury, ((or the army or navy departments of the United States)) the Department of Defense, the United States customs service, the coast guard of the United States, and the United States department of transportation, or any authorized representative thereof, for official purposes;

     (j) Publishing or otherwise disclosing the text of a written determination designated by the director as a precedent pursuant to section 2 of this act; or

     (k) Disclosing, in a manner that is not associated with other tax information, the taxpayer name, business address, mailing address, revenue tax registration numbers, standard industrial classification code of a taxpayer, and the dates of opening and closing of business.

     (4) Any person acquiring knowledge of ((such facts)) any return or tax information in the course of his or her employment with the department of revenue and any person acquiring knowledge of ((such facts and)) any return or tax information as provided under (((4), (5), (6) and (7) above)) subsection (3) (f), (g), (h), or (i) of this section, who ((reveals or makes known)) discloses any such ((facts)) return or tax information to another person not entitled to knowledge of such ((facts)) return or tax information under the provisions of this section, shall upon conviction be punished by a fine ((of)) not exceeding one thousand dollars and, if the ((offender or)) person guilty of such violation is an officer or employee of the state, ((he)) such person shall forfeit such office or employment and shall be incapable of holding any public office or employment in this state for a period of two years thereafter.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 82.32 RCW to read as follows:

     (1) The director may designate certain written determinations as precedents.

     (a) By rule adopted pursuant to chapter 34.05 RCW, the director shall adopt criteria which he or she shall use to decide whether a determination is precedential.  These criteria shall include, but not be limited to, whether the determination clarifies an unsettled interpretation of Title 82 RCW or where the determination modifies or clarifies an earlier interpretation.

     (b) Written determinations designated as precedents by the director shall be made available for public inspection and shall be published by the department.

     (c) The department shall disclose any written determination upon which it relies to support any assessment of tax, interest, or penalty against such taxpayer, after making the deletions provided by subsection (2) of this section.

     (2) Before making a written determination available for public inspection under subsection (1) of this section, the department shall delete:

     (a) The names, addresses, and other identifying details of the person to whom the written determination pertains and of another person identified in the written determination; and

     (b) Information the disclosure of which is specifically prohibited by any statute applicable to the department of revenue, and the department may also delete other information exempted from disclosure by chapter 42.17 RCW or any other statute applicable to the department of revenue.