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SECTION 1296
Secrecy of returns and reports
Tax (TAX) CHAPTER 60, ARTICLE 29-B
§ 1296. Secrecy of returns and reports. (a) Except in accordance with
proper judicial order or as otherwise provided by law, it shall be
unlawful for the commissioner, any officer or employee of the
department, any person engaged or retained by the department on an
independent contract basis, or any person who in any manner may acquire
knowledge of the contents of a return or report filed with the
commissioner pursuant to this article, to divulge or make known in any
manner any particulars set forth or disclosed in any such return or
report. The officers charged with the custody of such returns and
reports shall not be required to produce any of them or evidence of
anything contained in them in any action or proceeding in any court,
except on behalf of the commissioner in an action or proceeding under
the provisions of this chapter or in any other action or proceeding
involving the collection of a state assessment fee due under this
article to which the state or the commissioner is a party or a claimant,
or on behalf of any party to any action, proceeding or hearing under the
provisions of this article when the returns, reports or facts shown
thereby are directly involved in such action, proceeding or hearing, in
any of which events the court, or in the case of a hearing, the division
of tax appeals may require the production of, and may admit into
evidence, so much of said returns, reports or of the facts shown
thereby, as are pertinent to the action, proceeding or hearing and no
more. The commissioner or the division of tax appeals may, nevertheless,
publish a copy or a summary of any decision rendered after a hearing
required by this article. Nothing in this section shall be construed to
prohibit the delivery to a person who has filed a return or report or to
such person's duly authorized representative of a certified copy of any
return or report filed in connection with such person's state assessment
fee. Nor shall anything in this section be construed to prohibit the
publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification
of particular returns or reports and the items thereof, or the
inspection by the attorney general or other legal representatives of the
state of the return or report of any person required to pay the state
assessment fee who shall bring action to review the state assessment fee
based thereon, or against whom an action or proceeding under this
chapter has been recommended by the commissioner or the attorney general
or has been instituted, or the inspection of the returns or reports
required under this article by the comptroller or duly designated
officer or employee of the state department of audit and control, for
purposes of the audit of a refund of any state assessment fee paid by a
person required to pay the state assessment fee under this article.
Provided, further, nothing in this section shall be construed to
prohibit the disclosure, in such manner as the commissioner deems
appropriate, of the names and other appropriate identifying information
of those persons required to pay state assessment fee under this
article.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this section,
the commissioner, in his or her discretion, may require or permit any or
all persons liable for any state assessment fee imposed by this article,
to make payment to banks, banking houses or trust companies designated
by the commissioner and to file returns with such banks, banking houses
or trust companies as agents of the commissioner, in lieu of paying any
such state assessment fee directly to the commissioner. However, the
commissioner shall designate only such banks, banking houses or trust
companies as are already designated by the comptroller as depositories
pursuant to section twelve hundred eighty-eight of this chapter.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this section,
the commissioner may permit the secretary of the treasury of the United
States or such secretary's delegate, or the authorized representative of
either such officer, to inspect any return filed under this article, or
may furnish to such officer or such officer's authorized representative
an abstract of any such return or supply such person with information
concerning an item contained in any such return, or disclosed by any
investigation of liability under this article, but such permission shall
be granted or such information furnished only if the laws of the United
States grant substantially similar privileges to the commissioner or
officer of this state charged with the administration of the state
assessment fee imposed by this article, and only if such information is
to be used for purposes of tax administration only; and provided further
the commissioner may furnish to the commissioner of internal revenue or
such commissioner's authorized representative such returns filed under
this article and other tax information, as such commissioner may
consider proper, for use in court actions or proceedings under the
internal revenue code, whether civil or criminal, where a written
request therefor has been made to the commissioner by the secretary of
the treasury of the United States or such secretary's delegate, provided
the laws of the United States grant substantially similar powers to the
secretary of the treasury of the United States or his or her delegate.
Where the commissioner has so authorized use of returns and other
information in such actions or proceedings, officers and employees of
the department may testify in such actions or proceedings in respect to
such returns or other information.

(d) Returns and reports filed under this article shall be preserved
for three years and thereafter until the commissioner orders them to be
destroyed.

(e) (1) Any officer or employee of the state who willfully violates
the provisions of subdivision (a) of this section shall be dismissed
from office and be incapable of holding any public office for a period
of five years thereafter.

(2) Cross-reference: For criminal penalties, see article thirty-seven
of this chapter.

(f) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this
section, upon written request from the chairperson of the committee on
ways and means of the United States House of Representatives, the
chairperson of the committee on finance of the United States Senate, or
the chairperson of the joint committee on taxation of the United States
Congress, the commissioner shall furnish such committee with any current
or prior year returns or reports specified in such request that were
filed under this article by the president of the United States,
vice-president of the United States, member of the United States
Congress representing New York state, or any person who served in or was
employed by the executive branch of the government of the United States
on the executive staff of the president, in the executive office of the
president, or in an acting or confirmed capacity in a position subject
to confirmation by the United States senate; or, in New York state: a
statewide elected official, as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision
one of section seventy-three-a of the public officers law; a state
officer or employee, as defined in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (c) of
subdivision one of such section seventy-three-a; a political party
chairperson, as defined in paragraph (h) of subdivision one of such
section seventy-three-a; a local elected official, as defined in
subdivisions one and two of section eight hundred ten of the general
municipal law; a person appointed, pursuant to law, to serve due to
vacancy or otherwise in the position of a local elected official, as
defined in subdivisions one and two of section eight hundred ten of the
general municipal law; a member of the state legislature; or a judge or
justice of the unified court system; or filed by a partnership, firm,
association, corporation, joint-stock company, trust or similar entity
directly or indirectly controlled by any individual listed in this
paragraph, whether by contract, through ownership or control of a
majority interest in such entity, or otherwise, or filed by a
partnership, firm, association, corporation, joint-stock company, trust
or similar entity of which any individual listed in this paragraph holds
ten percent or more of the voting securities of such entity; provided
however that, prior to furnishing any return or report, the commissioner
shall redact any copy of a federal return (or portion thereof) attached
to, or any information on a federal return that is reflected on, such
return or report, and any social security numbers, account numbers and
residential address information.

(2) No returns or reports shall be furnished pursuant to this
subdivision unless the chairperson of the requesting committee certifies
in writing that such returns or reports have been requested related to,
and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress, that the
requesting committee has made a written request to the United States
secretary of the treasury for related federal returns or reports or
return or report information, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. Section 6103(f), and
that if such requested returns or reports are inspected by and/or
submitted to another committee, to the United States House of
Representatives, or to the United States Senate, then such inspection
and/or submission shall occur in a manner consistent with federal law as
informed by the requirements and procedures established in 26 U.S.C.
Section 6103(f).