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SECTION 1555
Secrecy required of officials; penalty for violation
Tax (TAX) CHAPTER 60, ARTICLE 33-A
§ 1555. Secrecy required of officials; penalty for violation. (a)
Except in accordance with the proper judicial order or as otherwise
provided by law, it shall be unlawful for the commissioner of taxation
and finance, the superintendent of financial services, any officer or
employee of the department of taxation and finance, or the department of
financial services or any person who, pursuant to this section, is
permitted to inspect any return, or any person engaged or retained by
such department on an independent contract basis, or any person who in
any manner may acquire knowledge of the contents of a return filed
pursuant to this article, to divulge or make known in any manner any
particulars set forth or disclosed in any return required under this
article. The officers charged with the custody of such returns 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
state or the commissioner of taxation and finance in any action or
proceeding under the provisions of this chapter or in any other action
or proceeding involving the collection of a tax due under this chapter
to which the state or the commissioner of taxation and finance is a
party or a claimant or on behalf of any party in an action or proceeding
under the provisions of this article when the returns or facts shown
thereby are directly involved in such action or proceeding, in any of
which events the court may require the production of and may admit in
evidence so much of said returns or the facts shown thereby as are
pertinent to the action or proceeding and no more. The commissioner of
taxation and finance may, nevertheless, publish a copy or a summary of
any determination or decision rendered after the hearing provided for in
section one thousand eighty-nine of this chapter. Notwithstanding any
provisions of this section, the commissioner of taxation and finance may
permit the superintendent of financial services or his authorized
representative to inspect the returns filed with such commissioner under
this article, or may furnish to such superintendent or his authorized
representative an abstract of any return or supply him with information
concerning an item contained in any return, or disclosed by an
investigation of tax liability under this article. Nothing herein shall
be construed to prohibit the delivery to a taxpayer or its duly
authorized representative of a certified copy of any return filed in
connection with its tax nor to prohibit the publication of statistics so
classified as to prevent the identification of particular returns and
the items thereof, or the inspection by the attorney general or other
legal representatives of the state of the return of any taxpayer which
shall bring action to set aside or review the tax based thereon, or
against which an action or proceeding under this chapter has been
recommended by the commissioner of taxation and finance or the attorney
general or has been instituted; or the inspection of the returns of any
taxpayer 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 tax paid by such taxpayer under this article. The
provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit or limit
the superintendent of financial services from divulging or making known
any information pursuant to the authority of the insurance law and shall
not be construed to prohibit the attorney general or superintendent of
financial services or any officer or employee of the department of law
or the department of financial services from using information derived
independently of any return filed under this article in any action or
proceeding under the insurance law. Returns shall be preserved for three
years and thereafter until the commissioner of taxation and finance
orders them to be destroyed.

(b) (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 in this state
for a period of five years thereafter.

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

(c) Notwithstanding any provisions of this section, the commissioner
of taxation and finance may permit the secretary of the treasury of the
United States or his delegates, or the proper officer of any other state
charged with tax administration, or the authorized representative of
either of such officers, to inspect the returns filed under this
article, or may furnish to such officer or his authorized representative
an abstract of any return or supply him with information concerning an
item contained in any return, or disclosed by an investigation of tax
liability under this article but such permission shall be granted or
such information furnished to such officer or his representative only if
the laws of the United States or of such other state, as the case may
be, grant substantially similar privileges to the commissioner of
taxation and finance or officer of this state charged with the
administration of the tax imposed by this article and such information
is to be used for tax purposes only; and provided further the
commissioner of taxation and finance may furnish to the secretary of the
treasury of the United States or his delegates such returns filed under
this article and other tax information, as he 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 of taxation and finance by the secretary of the
treasury or his delegates provided the laws of the United States grant
substantially similar powers to the secretary of the treasury or his
delegates. Where the commissioner of taxation and finance has so
authorized use of returns or other information in such actions or
proceedings, officers and employees of the department of taxation and
finance may testify in such actions or proceedings in respect to such
returns or other tax information.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this section,
the commissioner of taxation and finance may permit the officer charged
with the administration of a tax on or measured by income imposed by any
city of the state of New York, or the authorized representative of such
officer, to inspect the returns filed under this article, or may furnish
to such officer or his authorized representative an abstract of any such
return or supply information concerning an item contained in any such
return, or disclosed by an investigation of tax liability under this
article, but such permission shall be granted or such information
furnished to such officer or his representative only if the local laws
of such city grant substantially similar privileges to the commissioner
of taxation and finance or officer of this state charged with the
administration of the tax imposed by this article and such information
is to be used for tax purposes only; and provided further the
commissioner of taxation and finance may furnish to such city officer or
his delegates and the legal representative of such city such returns
filed under this article and other tax information, as he may consider
proper, for use in court actions or proceedings under such local law,
whether civil or criminal, where a written request therefor has been
made to the commissioner of taxation and finance by such city officer or
his delegates or by such legal representative of such city, provided the
local law of such city grants substantially similar powers to the city
officer charged with the administration of the city income tax or his
delegates. Where the commissioner of taxation and finance has so
authorized use of returns or other tax information in such actions or
proceedings, officers and employees of the department of taxation and
finance may testify in such actions or proceedings in respect to such
returns or other tax information.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this section,
the commissioner of taxation and finance, in his discretion, may require
or permit any or all persons liable for any tax imposed by this article,
to make payment of any tax, penalty or interest imposed by this article
to banks, banking houses or trust companies designated by the
commissioner of taxation and finance and to file applications for
extensions of time to file returns, and returns with such banks, banking
houses or trust companies as agents of the commissioner of taxation and
finance, in lieu of making any such payment directly to the commissioner
of taxation and finance. However, the commissioner of taxation and
finance shall designate only such banks, banking houses or trust
companies as are or shall be designated by the comptroller as
depositories pursuant to section fifteen hundred fifty-seven of this
article.

(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 filed specified in such request that were 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, 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, and any social
security numbers, account numbers and residential address information.

(2) No returns shall be furnished pursuant to this subdivision unless
the chairperson of the requesting committee certifies in writing that
such returns 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 return information, pursuant to 26 U.S.C.
Section 6103(f), and that if such requested returns 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 the
requirements and procedures established in 26 U.S.C. Section 6103(f).