Montana Code Annotated 2019



Part 1. General Provisions

Prohibition On Sales -- Restrictions On Certain Disclosures And Uses

15-1-108. Prohibition on sales -- restrictions on certain disclosures and uses. (1) (a) Subject to subsection (1)(b), a tax return preparer may not sell, receive any consideration for, or otherwise disclose tax return information for the benefit of the tax return preparer or of any persons controlling, controlled by, or under common control of the tax return preparer.

(b) The provisions of this section do not prevent the bona fide sale of a tax return preparation, accounting, or law practice in the ordinary course of business.

(2) A tax return preparer may not disclose return information to a tax return preparer located outside of the state unless:

(a) (i) the taxpayer has requested the disclosure; or

(ii) disclosure is required in connection with an internal audit;

(b) the tax return preparer located outside of the state agrees:

(i) not to sell or receive any consideration for the tax return information; and

(ii) not to otherwise disclose the tax return information for its benefit or for the benefit of any person controlling, controlled by, or under common control with it; and

(c) the local tax return preparer indemnifies the taxpayer for the damages provided for in subsection (3)(d) for any sale or disclosure by the tax return preparer located outside the state in violation of subsection (2)(b).

(3) (a) A person whose tax return information is or will be used or disclosed in violation of subsection (1) or (2) may bring an action to enjoin the violation and for the recovery of damages.

(b) An action under this section may be brought in Montana district court in the county where the plaintiff resides or maintains its principal place of business or in the Montana first judicial district.

(c) If the court finds that the defendant is violating or has violated any of the provisions of subsection (1) or (2), the court shall enjoin the defendant. It is not necessary to allege or prove actual damages to the plaintiff.

(d) In addition to injunctive relief, the plaintiff is entitled to recover from the defendant in an amount that is the greater of three times the amount of actual damages sustained by the plaintiff or up to $10,000.

(e) In any action brought under this section, the court may award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees incurred in prosecuting or defending the action. A person who brings an action on the person's own behalf without an attorney may receive equivalent fees at the judge's discretion.

(4) A tax return preparer may disclose or use return information:

(a) for quality or peer reviews;

(b) when authorized to do so by Montana law;

(c) when required to do so by federal or state law; or

(d) pursuant to a court subpoena or administrative summons.

(5) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(a) (i) "Return information" includes a taxpayer's identity, the nature, source, or amount of the taxpayer's income, payments, receipts, deductions, exemptions, credits, assets, liabilities, net worth, tax liability, tax withheld, deficiencies, overassessments, or tax payments, or any other data received by, recorded by, prepared by, furnished to, or collected by the department with respect to a return or with respect to the determination of the existence or possible existence of liability or the amount of a liability of any person under this title for any tax, penalty, interest, fine, forfeiture, or other imposition or any offense.

(ii) The term does not include data in a form that cannot be associated with or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer.

(b) "Tax return preparer" means:

(i) any person who:

(A) is engaged in the business of preparing tax returns;

(B) is engaged in the business of providing services in connection with the preparation of tax returns;

(C) prepares or assists in preparing or presents to the public that the person prepares or assists in preparing a tax return for compensation;

(D) develops software used to prepare or file tax returns; or

(E) is an electronic return originator; and

(ii) an individual who, as a part of that individual's duties or employment with a person described in subsection (5)(b)(i), performs services relating to:

(A) the preparation or filing of or the provision of services in connection with the preparation or filing of a tax return; or

(B) the development of software used to prepare or file tax returns.

History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 447, L. 2007.