1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. Tax
  4. Article 21: Highway Use Tax


Section 514 Secrecy of returns

Tax (TAX)

1. Except in accordance with proper judicial order or as in this section or otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful for the tax commission, any tax commissioner, any officer or employee of the department of taxation and finance, or any officer or person who, pursuant to this section, is permitted to inspect any return or report or to whom a copy, an abstract or a portion of any return or report is furnished, or to whom any information contained in any return or report is furnished, 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 or report filed pursuant to this article, to divulge or make known in any manner the contents or any other information relating to the business of a carrier or other person contained in any return or report required under this article. The officers charged with the custody of such returns or 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 state, the department of taxation and finance, the department of transportation or the tax commission in an action or proceeding under the provisions of this chapter, the vehicle and traffic law or the transportation law, or on behalf of the state or the tax commission in any other action or proceeding involving the collection of a tax due under this chapter to which the state or the tax commission is a party or a claimant or on behalf of any party to any action or proceeding under the provisions of this article or the vehicle and traffic law or the transportation law when the returns or the reports or the facts shown thereby are directly involved in such action or proceeding, or on behalf of officers to whom information shall have been supplied as provided in subdivision two of this section, in any of which events the court may require the production of, and may admit in evidence so much of said returns or reports or of the facts shown thereby as are pertinent to the action or proceeding and no more. The tax commission may, nevertheless, publish a copy or a summary of any decision rendered after the formal hearing provided for in section five hundred ten of this chapter. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the tax commission, in its discretion, from allowing the inspection or delivery of a certified copy of any return or report filed under this article or of any information contained in any such return or report by or to a duly authorized officer or employee of the department of transportation, or by or to the attorney general or other legal representatives of the state when an action shall have been recommended or commenced pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the vehicle and traffic law or the transportation law in which such returns or reports or the facts shown thereby are directly involved; 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 tax paid by any person under this article; nor to prohibit the delivery to any person, or a duly authorized representative of such person of a certified copy of any return or report filed by such person pursuant to this article, nor to prohibit the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular returns or reports and the items thereof; nor to prohibit the publication of delinquent lists showing the names of taxpayers who have failed to pay their taxes at the time and in the manner provided by section five hundred six of this chapter, together with any relevant information which in the opinion of the tax commission may assist in the collection of such delinquent taxes. Returns and reports shall be preserved for four years, and thereafter until the tax commission orders them to be destroyed.

  2. The tax commission, in its discretion and pursuant to such rules and regulations as it may adopt, may permit the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States, or the appropriate officers of any other state which imposes a similar highway use tax, or the duly authorized representatives of such commissioner or of any such officers, to inspect returns or reports made pursuant to this article, or may furnish to such commissioner or other officers, or duly authorized representatives, a copy of any such return or report or an abstract of the information therein contained, or any portion thereof, or may supply such commissioner or any such officers or such representatives with information relating to the business of any person making returns or reports hereunder. The tax commission may refuse to supply information pursuant to this subdivision to the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States or to the officers of any other state if the statutes of the United States, or of the state represented by such officers, do not grant substantially similar privileges to the tax commission of this state, but such refusal shall not be mandatory. Information shall not be supplied to the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States or the appropriate officers of any other state which imposes a similar highway use tax, or the duly authorized representatives of such commissioner or of any of such officers, unless such commissioner, officer or other representatives shall agree not to divulge or make known in any manner the information so supplied, but such officers may transmit such information to their employees or legal representatives when necessary, who in turn shall be subject to the same restrictions as those hereby imposed upon such commissioner, officer or other representatives.

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

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

  4. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision one of this section, the tax commission, in its discretion, may require or permit any or all persons or carriers liable for any tax or fee imposed by this article, to make payment of any tax, fee, penalty or interest to banks, banking houses or trust companies designated by the tax commission and to file returns and reports with such banks, banking houses or trust companies as agents of the tax commission, in lieu of making any such payment directly to the tax commission. However, the tax commission shall designate only such banks, banking houses or trust companies as are or shall be designated by the comptroller as depositories pursuant to section five hundred fifteen.

  5. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section: (a) Upon agreement with the heads of the department of motor vehicles, the department of transportation, the department of environmental conservation, the division of state police, the thruway authority, the United States department of transportation, and the United States department of homeland security (or any other federal agency which may assume the duties of either or both of such federal agencies), the commissioner may disclose to such agencies the name, address, employer identification number, vehicle identification number, application status information, and other appropriate identifying and application information, of persons holding a certification of registration or license under this article, persons whose certificate of registration or license under this article has been revoked, suspended or surrendered, and persons whose application for a certificate of registration or license under this article has been denied, for the purposes of improving the safety and security oversight of the motor carrier industry and coordinating and streamlining the credentialing process for such industry administered by such agencies.

  (b) Any information disclosed by the commissioner pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subdivision may, pursuant to such agreement, be re-disclosed by and among the heads of such agencies and may also be re-disclosed to the heads of comparable agencies of any other state, the District of Columbia or any province or territory of Canada in furtherance of the purposes specified in this subdivision.

  6. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision one 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.

  (b) 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).