Montana Code Annotated 2019



Part 5. Administration and Collection

Confidentiality Of Tax Records

15-31-511. Confidentiality of tax records. (1) Except as provided in this section, in accordance with a proper judicial order, or as otherwise provided by law, it is unlawful to divulge or make known in any manner:

(a) the amount of income or any particulars set forth or disclosed in any return or report required under this chapter or any other information relating to taxation secured in the administration of this chapter; or

(b) any federal return or information in or disclosed on a federal return or report required by law or rule of the department under this chapter.

(2) (a) An officer or employee charged with custody of returns and reports required by this chapter may not be ordered to produce any of them or evidence of anything contained in them in any administrative proceeding or action or proceeding in any court, except:

(i) in an action or proceeding in which the department is a party under the provisions of this chapter; or

(ii) in any other tax proceeding or on behalf of a party to an action or proceeding under the provisions of this chapter when the returns or reports or facts shown in them are directly pertinent to the action or proceeding.

(b) If the production of a return, report, or information contained in them is ordered, the court shall limit production of and the admission of returns, reports, or facts shown in them to the matters directly pertinent to the action or proceeding.

(3) This section does not prohibit:

(a) the delivery of a certified copy of any return or report filed in connection with a return to the taxpayer who filed the return or report or to the taxpayer's authorized representative;

(b) the publication of statistics prepared in a manner that prevents the identification of particular returns, reports, or items from returns or reports;

(c) the inspection of returns and reports by the attorney general or other legal representative of the state in the course of an administrative proceeding or litigation under this chapter;

(d) access to information under subsection (4);

(e) the director of revenue from permitting a representative of the commissioner of internal revenue of the United States or a representative of a proper officer of any state imposing a tax on the income of a taxpayer to inspect the returns or reports of a corporation. The department may also furnish those persons abstracts of income, returns, and reports; information concerning any item in a return or report; and any item disclosed by an investigation of the income or return of a corporation. The director of revenue may not furnish that information to a person representing the United States or another state unless the United States or the other state grants substantially similar privileges to an officer of this state charged with the administration of this chapter.

(4) On written request to the director or a designee of the director, the department shall:

(a) allow the inspection of returns and reports by the legislative auditor, but the information furnished to the legislative auditor is subject to the same restrictions on disclosure outside that office as provided in subsection (1);

(b) provide corporate income tax and alternative corporate income tax information, including any information that may be required under Title 15, chapter 30, part 33, to the legislative fiscal analyst, as provided in 5-12-303 or 15-1-106, and the office of budget and program planning, as provided in 15-1-106 or 17-7-111. The information furnished to the legislative fiscal analyst and the office of budget and program planning is subject to the same restrictions on disclosure outside those offices as provided in subsection (1).

(c) provide to the department of commerce tax information about a taxpayer whose debt is assigned to the department of revenue for offset or collection pursuant to the terms of Title 17, chapter 4, part 1. The information provided to the department of commerce must be used for the purposes of preventing and detecting fraud or abuse and determining eligibility for grants or loans.

(d) furnish to the superintendent of public instruction information required under 20-9-905;

(e) exchange with the department of labor and industry taxpayer and apprentice information necessary to implement 15-30-2357, 15-31-173, and 39-6-109; and

(f) provide the department of public health and human services with the information necessary to verify, as required under 53-6-133, the income reported by an applicant for medical assistance.

(5) A person convicted of violating this section shall be fined not to exceed $500. If a public officer or public employee is convicted of violating this section, the person is dismissed from office or employment and may not hold any public office or public employment in the state for a period of 1 year after dismissal or, in the case of a former officer or employee, for 1 year after conviction. (Subsection (4)(d) terminates December 31, 2023--sec. 33, Ch. 457, L. 2015; subsection (4)(f) terminates June 30, 2025, on occurrence of contingency--sec. 48, Ch. 415, L. 2019.)

History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 135, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 595, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 70, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 268, L. 2013; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 76, L. 2015; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 457, L. 2015; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 151, L. 2017; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 380, L. 2017; amd. Sec. 10, Ch. 415, L. 2019.