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September 9, 2004
Councilman David A. Worthington
749 S. Seivers Blvd.
Clinton, Tennessee 37716
Dear Councilman Worthington
Your questions about the confidentiality of business tax license have been referred to me. The recorder is correct in denying you access to the business tax returns.
TCA 67-1-1702. Confidentiality- states that returns, tax information and tax administration information shall be confidential and, except as authorized by this part, no officer or employee of the department and no other person, or officer or employees of the state, who has or had access to such information shall disclose any such information obtained by such officer or employee in any manner in connection with such officer’s or employee’s service as an officer or employee.
TCA 67-1-1704 states that such records are available to officers and employees where official duties require such inspection or disclosure for administration purposes.
While you as a councilman are responsible for the administration of municipal services at the local level, including business tax collection, you are not authorized to release any of the data. You are not authorized access to data except for administration purposes. It may seem that you should have access, however, the state law requires confidentiality. There are two ways that you may obtain the information: (1) Obtain the permission of the State Commissioner of Revenue or (2) Obtain a release of the return from the individual business.
It is a Class E felony for any person who has or had at any time access to any return or tax information to disclose to any person, except as authorized by law, and such return or tax information. That is a good reason for the recorder to deny access to the business tax returns.
I am enclosing information relating to the business tax laws for your information. Please call me if you have questions or comments.
Municipal Management Consultant
CC. City Recorder Fagan